The Mariners finished the month of April with a 13-10 record, which is probably the best record the Mariners have had in the month of April in quite some time. But, I’m not going to go back and look it up, because who cares? It could be the best April the Mariners have had since 2003, but more likely it’s the best April the Mariners have had since 2014; whatever the answer is, it’s not going to impress you, so let’s move on.
The Mariners have won 6 out of 8 series, somehow without ever having swept another team away. They’re on a 5-series winning streak, which is always nice, and one game into this Oakland series, they’re 1-0, with Felix set to go against some rookie tomorrow.
The Mariners have just been good! All around, in all facets. They’re 6th in the A.L. in runs scored, they’re 2nd in homers, and 5th in on-base percentage. Which is pretty amazing, considering the Mariners are 12th in the A.L. in batting average at .232. The Mariners are averaging 4.2 runs per game, which is great considering the Mariners are 10-1 when they score 4 runs or more. And, you know, it could be argued that the Mariners have been a little unlucky (and therefore could be even BETTER offensively), since they have a .262 batting average on balls in play (when the rule of thumb is that the MLB average babip is .300). A lot of that comes down to just a miserable start from Kyle Seager (which he appears to be in the opening stages of coming out of) and a not-so-great start from Robbie Cano (which he is definitely on his way out of). To be as good as we’ve been offensively, with two of your most important hitters yet to really break out … I’d say we’re in for some good things in the months to come.
On the pitching side of things, the Mariners have the second-best ERA in the A.L. at 3.04. I know nobody wants to hear about ERAs anymore, so how about this: the Mariners have the second-best FIP at 3.53. And the second-best batting average against in the A.L. at .224. Does that float your boat? The Mariners have allowed the 4th-fewest walks, and that’s with Felix being uncharacteristically wild in his 5 starts, allowing 18 of ’em so far! The Mariners have been this good while being pretty middle of the road as far as giving up extra base hits, so it’s not like we’re due for a regression in that area. The Mariners are 2nd in strikeouts, which is fantastic.
Of course, a big part of our success has been the bullpen, which has only blown 3 saves so far this year. It’s early, and 3 blown saves doesn’t sound all that impressive when you figure we’ve only played in 25 games (way to be league-average, guys!), but 10 of these games have been decided by 1 run (the Mariners are 5-5, which – if you think about it – is better than being worse than 5-5) and 16 of these games have been decided by 3 runs or less. The bullpen is currently posting a 2.41 ERA (I know, I know), with our five best guys (Cishek, Zych, Vincent, Montgomery, and Nuno) all with FIPs of 3.07 or less.
Another huge factor in the solid start has been the relative health of the Seattle Mariners. Only Joaquin Benoit and Charlie Furbush have seen time on the DL, and both are pretty close to starting their rehab assignments. Granted, with as thin as the bullpen was coming into the season, you really don’t want to see the bulk of your injuries come from that region, but right now it’s only two guys.
What’s more, no one has really under-performed to the point that they needed to be sent down to Tacoma, which is INSANE, because usually we have 3-4 guys who deserve to be sent down by the time May rolls around! Ketel Marte bounced back from a sluggish start in a big way, Karns has battled and – over his last two starts – has gotten his pitch counts under control, Walker has been lights out in his second full year, Zych has been one of our very best (and most under-utilized) relievers in a world where Joel Peralta has been hogging all the high-leverage situations, Montgomery has come in and given the team exactly what it asked for, and Vincent has come in and blown everyone’s expectations out of the water!
The Mariners are a very veteran team. In fact, they’re one of the very oldest teams in the A.L. That’s important, because veterans won’t get shaken up about a slow start, or a random mid-season cold streak. But, they can’t do it all. You need your young, cheap players to be effective, and the Mariners are getting that in spades. Even Leonys Martin, whose offensive numbers are predictably awful, has given us superb defense, and just enough power to justify his everyday player status.
It’s been a fun start to the season. Here’s to five more months just like April!