It’s still early
The Seattle Mariners kicked the baseball season off with a bang but quickly learned it’s going to be a roller-coaster year. It’s now 2 weeks into the season and the Mariners are sitting at a disappointing, yet respectable 6-8 overall record. With all of the adjustments in the lineup and changes to the rotation, things are supposed to look up. Especially after the spring training this team had.
Things have definitely changed this season. The hitters brought in to hit are, well, hitting and while the team’s biggest strength last year has become a weakness (pitching), it hasn’t faltered enough to raise eyebrows…yet.
This is a new Mariners team. A team who is looking to climb out of the dark cellar of last place and sub-.500 finishes by changing things up a bit. A lot has happened in the first 2 weeks of this young season.
Let’s play catch up, shall we?
Felix Hernandez started off the year in true Felix fashion. He shut the A’s out through 7.2 innings en route to a 2-0 Opening Day win. Since then, though, Felix has had his early struggles. While there is no reason to worry this early in the season, it seems pretty unlike Hernandez.
Nonetheless, King Felix is still getting his. In 3 games, he has a 1-2 record and 3.05 ERA. In his 20.2 innings so far, Hernandez has given up 19 hits and surrendered 8 runs (7 earned). He has allowed 2 home runs already and has walked 5 and stuck out 16 batters thus far. Opponents are hitting .241 off of him so far this season.
Hisashi Iwakuma is this year’s Jason Vargas – solid and underrated. Iwakuma has had the best start to the season among the starting 5. Being that we’re only 2 weeks into the season, it’s no big deal, really. Kuma can appreciate the job he has done early on, but must realize that there’s still over 5 months of baseball to be played.
In 3 starts, Iwakuma has a 2-0 record and a 2.18 ERA. Over his 20.2 innings so far this season, Kuma has given up 9 hits, 5 runs, and 4 home runs. He’s only walked 1 batter this season and struck out 16. Opponents are batting an ice cold .129 against him.
Joe Saunders was one of 2 wild cards in the early rotation, to say the least. He’s an aging veteran that hasn’t been able to really stick with a team since he left the Angels. Well he’s landed in Seattle now and fighting to stay relevant while the Mariners are trying to get the last bit of productivity from the old workhorse.
Saunders started off rocky, but evened himself out in his 3 games of action so far this season. He’s sporting a 1-1 record and a 2.08 ERA. He’s gone 17.1 innings so far, giving up 16 hits and 5 runs (4 earned) while walking 7 and striking out 10. Opponents are batting .258 off Saunders so far.
Rookie Brandon Maurer commanded a lot of hype coming into this season. After shutting down AA Jackson last season and spring training this season, it was a no-brainer to give the kid a shot. His first 2 outings this season were scary, there’s no denying that. The third game in, though, Maurer finally put together a strong performance and showed why Wedge allowed him to skip over AAA to make the big league roster.
In 3 games, Maurer has gone a total 12.2 innings. He currently has a 1-2 record and an ERA of 9.95. He’s given up 20 hits this season, 14 runs, and 2 home runs. He’s walked 2 batters and struck out 8 so far, allowing a .364 opponent batting average.
Blake Beavan was the odd starter out with 2 trips to the mount this season instead of 3 like everyone else. Those 2 starts have been rocky, too. He’s sporting an 0-1 record and an 8.44 ERA. He’s given up 16 hits, 10 runs and 3 home runs. He’s walked 1 and struck out 6 while allowing a .348 opponent batting average.
Unfortunately for Beavan, though, he was the first rotation casualty of the year. The Mariners made a deal with the Colorado Rockies, who had JUST got pitcher Aaron Harang from the Dodgers. Harang will now take Beavan’s rotation spot while Beavan will be moved to the bullpen to help out in long relief.
Stephen Pryor is still a candidate to slide into the closer role one day. His performance this season has been practically perfect and can only help his chances to get the first crack at closing games out if Wilhelmsen gets moved or injured. He has been lights out and there’s nothing more you can really say.
He’s appeared in 7 games, throwing 7.1 innings and holding a 0.00 ERA. He’s given up 3 hits, a walk and 7 strike outs thus far. Batters are struggling to hit him, with an opponent average of .120.
As of today, though, Stephen Pryor was put on the 15 day DL. I’ll monitor his progress.
Oliver Perez has been a dark horse in the bullpen. Coming into the season, some wondered how a veteran Perez would perform among a bullpen full of young guys and less experience. He has showed them how to be a solid relief pitcher so far.
In 7 games, Perez is sporting a 1.35 ERA, giving up 4 hits and a run coming off of a solo home run. He’s walked 1 and struck out 5. Opponents are hitting just .182 against him.
Charlie Furbush has been used differently this season, sometimes being called upon to get just 1 out in a game. In his 6 appearance so far, he has thrown 4 innings and holds an ERA of 4.50.
He’s given up 3 hits, 2 runs and a home run. He is a dead even 5 walks to 5 strike outs, but is holding opponents to a .214 batting average.
Carter Capps would be the other immediate closer option to Pryor. This season he has not helped his case, though as he has been hit pretty hard so far in his 6 games of action. He’s gone 7 innings, allowing 11 hits, 6 runs and 2 home runs. He’s walked 2 and struck out 10. Opponents are hitting .344 off Capps this season.
Kameron Loe was going to be called on for long relief outings this season. With the shaky 3-5 spots in the starting rotation, the bullpen knew they were going to get some work. Loe has been called upon quite a bit, but has made it hard to do so.
In 4 games, Loe has gone 6.3 innings, allowing 11 hits, 8 runs and 6 home runs already this season. He has an ugly 10.80 ERA, has walked 1 and struck out 3. Opponents are eating him alive, hitting .367 so far this season.
Because of the need for more stability in long relief, Blake Beavan will be replaced in the starting rotation to work long relief in the bullpen. This led to the release of Loe, who has since signed on with the Cubs.
It seemed only fitting to close out with the closer Tom Wilhelmsen. The Bartender is perfect in save opportunities this year, converting all 5 of his save chances so far. He has a 1.80 ERA in 5 innings of work. He’s given up 1 hit, 1 run, 4 walks and 2 strike outs. Opponents are hitting a dismal .063 off him.
Earlier I mentioned Capps and Pryor as closer options. While Wilhelmsen is in no current danger to lose his job, I tend to look past right now to the trade deadlines and am reminded of how the Mariners work during those times.
If Wilhelmsen keeps performing lights out, his trade value will increase and the Mariners could possibly move him.
Otherwise, I would like to see The Bartender serve many more as Mariners closer.