On the heels of Cleveland’s first professional sports championship since 1964, one might think 2016 is a year of endless possibilities. But, then you remember that Cleveland is only a 2-hour drive away from where Ohio State plays their football and basketball games, and you stop feeling as sorry for a region that’s been laden with as much success in college sports as you could ever want (3 Final Fours in my lifetime, 2 college football national championships in the same span). When you double down on all the amazing people who’ve met their maker in 2016 (Ali, Prince, Bowie, Shandling, Rickman, Haggard, fuckin’ Abe Vigoda!), and you know without a shadow of a doubt that 2016 is just as shitty as all the other years, probably moreso.
So, no, this won’t be the year the Seattle Mariners end their drought. This team, as currently constructed, will not make the World Series. And, if things don’t turn around in a hurry, this team won’t even contend for a post-season spot.
Let’s see, where do we begin? OH I KNOW THE PITCHING, DUMMY!
Felix Hernandez is just now starting his throwing program. To this point, while in a boot, he’s only been able to throw while sitting in a chair, so it’s pretty safe to say we’ve got a way to go before he’s back in action. It’s been somewhat okay, since James Paxton has looked remarkably solid in his first four starts.
But, then there’s Wade Miley. He was struggling before he went on the DL, and now he’s been replaced by call-up Adrian Sampson, who started on Saturday. He went 4.2 innings, giving up 4 runs. It’s hard to say how he looked, mostly because I was busy for the first half of that game and unable to watch him perform. Plus, he was going up against the Red Sox, who have the American League’s best lineup by FAR. Probably have to give him a couple starts before you figure out what you’ve got, but by that point Wade Miley should be back, and even then I highly doubt Sampson is going to give you anything better than what Miley could, so whatever.
Which brings us to Taijuan Walker, who has some sort of calf issue that has flared up in multiple games this year, causing those starts to be cut short. Including the last two times out, including yesterday’s 2-1 nailbiting loss. Might that game have gone differently with a healthy Walker? Well, considering he threw 5 shutout innings without the full use of the lower half of his body, and that he was still only at 88 pitches at that point, you have to figure he had at least one more inning in him. That might’ve saved us from one of the bullpen guys who gave up those runs, and left us in a better position to win it late. Then again, with the way the Red Sox are all-around great, it probably wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.
Either way, it’s looking like Walker will need to be shut down for a start or two, which means we’ll have to dip even FURTHER into our AAA reserves. I think it’s putting it kindly (and wildly understating things) that we’re seeing diminishing returns from this market.
Now, with word that Tony Zych isn’t anywhere CLOSE to returning, you have to look at a bullpen that’s average at best. Edwin Diaz has looked pretty good, but not great, and I’ve noticed an immediate drop in his fastball velocity since his first start. Was he just amped up for his first Major League appearance, and this is closer to who he really is? Or, is it something more sinister that we don’t know about?
The hitting is still more or less fine, but it’s not good enough to overcome all the shortcomings on the pitching side of things, and it’s still going to be shut down by dominant pitchers from time to time.
I don’t know what else to say. There really ISN’T anything else to say! The Mariners have four games in Detroit this week before a nice, long homestand, with a day off next Monday. We’ve still got the best road record in the A.L., but it’s dropping. We’re still 3 games under .500 at home. And, oh yeah, the stupid fucking Rangers have manhandled everything in their path; they currently hold an 8.5 game lead over us in the West. Our poor play has even cost us our Wild Card spot, as we’re 2 games out, with the Blue Jays wedged in between us and the Royals.
We’re in a real bad spot right now. I’m no longer having any fun with this season. I think it’s almost time to crawl into my hole and wait out the summer until Training Camp starts.