Is it time to jump ship yet?
After losing 6 games in a row to the Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins one would think that coming home, having ace hurler Felix Hernandez on the hill, and having the luxury of the abysmal hitting Houston Astros to punch around that the Seattle Mariners would snap out of their losing streak.
Despite a team batting average of .191 the Astros lived up to their name by rocketing several Hernandez pitches for 6 runs. Worse still, the offense which looked so potent in the early part of the season still did not show up.
It got worse the next night when the M’s could only manage two runs and struck out 11 times against a pitcher with career high of 8 strikeouts.
Is it already time to call the Mariner’s season a lost cause?
Not just yet, in my opinion, but I’ll grant you, this does not feel good right now if you are a Mariners fan and it’s such a turnaround from the early part of the season. It hurts so much because of how well we saw the Mariners are capable of playing during that first series against the Angels.
Here’s some comparisons.
In those 3 games to open the 2014 campaign the Mariners scored 26 runs. Since that time the Mariners have played 17 games with a record of 4-13. During those 17 games the M’s have only scored 45 runs. That’s just over 2.5 runs per game. They were averaging 9 runs per game.
Batting averages have slipped as well. During the 8 game losing streak the Mariners are batting an awful .204 overall.
They also have allowed their season batting average with runners in scoring position fall nearly 70 points this past week to .229.
Sloppy play has not helped the Mariners when it comes to keeping the other team from scoring either.
Kyle Seager has had a couple of miscues as of late. One was one of those catch but not a catch replay things but then against the Astros he did flat out drop one which lead to 4 unearned runs off Felix.
Seager is not alone. Abraham Almonte over ran a ball against the Astros. Stefen Romero missed a play in the outfield as did Dustin Ackley. Mike Zunino allowed a run to score on a passed ball a couple of nights ago. Justin Smoak double clutched and missed a runner at home recently.
Not all of these plays go down as errors but these are the kinds of plays that have to be made, particularly when you aren’t scoring a bunch of runs yourself. They create extra work for your pitching staff and tend to wear out your bullpen.
Outside of the last half of his last start Hernandez has been about as good as we have ever seen him. Unfortunately there isn’t much else to talk about here that’s positive. Injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton have really forced guys that belong in AAA or the bullpen to step up and start.
Unfortunately, in most cases, they haven’t been successful.
Erasmo Ramirez and Roenis Elias look green out there.
They are nibbling on the rare occasions they get ahead of hitters or falling behind early in the count both of which is driving their pitch counts up early in games. That causes the bullpen to get active earlier in the game.
Then you throw in a few defensive miscues and we all know what happens from there– bullpen burnout.
The bullpen, in particular Tom Wilhelmsen, has not been good as of late. In fact I’m ready to push Wilhelmsen over a cliff at this point. Hector Noesi got two pitches before he was released. Wilhelmsen has had much more than that.
I love his stuff. It’s electric. How do you not like a guy that can throw 97mph and has a wicked Uncle Charlie too?
Too many walks followed by big hits are what have plagued Whilhelmsen to this point. Unlike Noesi, Wilhelmsen has options.
It’s time he goes down to AAA.
There is no easy solution to fix the hole the Mariners have dug for themselves at the bottom of the sea. Iwakuma is the starter closest to coming back to the rotation. Maybe if he can get it going it can take some of the pressure off these younger pitchers and put them back into their comfort zones.
As far as the hitting goes, the Mariners just have to be more selective. Brad Miller and since his recall, Nick Franklin, both seem to be swinging dead chickens at everything thrown their direction. They are batting .115 and .069 respectively during the losing streak.
Dustin Ackley has been the most consistent hitter this year and I thought it was wise to see McClendon move him up to the 2 hole so that Robinson Cano and Corey Hart could hit with guys on base a bit more often.
Ackley responded by going 0-9 with 6 strikeouts in those two games.
Should Mariners fans hit the panic button in mid to late April? I’m not ready to push it but I tell you what — My finger is on the button.