Before we all go jumping off of buildings, I’m gonna wait and see how this plays out. Given the timing of this – with the All Star Break next week – it might not be the worst thing in the world.
Remember last year, when the Mariners were sort of barely clinging to contention for the second wild card spot, and going into the All Star Break I was talking about how we needed – above all else – to maximize James Paxton the rest of the way? He spent most of the month of May on the shelf, then had a really rocky month of June as he worked his way back to his usual dominance. Well, it was paid off in July, when he went 6-0 and won the A.L. Pitcher of the Month award. He had a 1.37 ERA and went at least 6 innings in all 6 of his starts. I figured: yes, get him as many starts as humanly possible between now and the end of the year (even if it meant having him pitch every 5th day regardless of off-days, and shuffling the rest of the rotation around him accordingly), and MAYBE the Mariners would be within reach of the wild card by the end of the year.
What happened? He made 2 starts in August before going back on the DL, struggled through half of September, and had 1 more quality start the rest of the way (on October 1st, the final game of the season). The Mariners finished under .500 and out of the playoffs, and his absence was one of a million reasons why this team underachieved.
Of course, that made one of the keys to this 2018 season to: Keep Paxton Healthy. His entire offseason program was centered around making all of his starts for the first time in his career. He’s been the ace of this staff through the first half, but obviously it’s all coming to a head with this injury he suffered last night.
After biffing that series against the Rockies over the weekend, the M’s didn’t play their best baseball against the Angels in Anaheim. In fact, in two of these games they might’ve played their very worst baseball of the season.
On Tuesday, Leake could only make it through 4 innings, giving up 7 runs (5 earned), and the bullpen allowed them to tack on a couple more to really put it away. Anaheim’s starter left injured in the third, but we couldn’t take advantage of their bullpen and ended up losing 9-3. Haniger had a good game – with a double, a homer, and 3 RBI – but everyone else was unremarkable at best.
The M’s didn’t completely shit the bed this series, as they notched a win on Wednesday behind Marco Gonzales’ 7 shutout innings, on 2 hits and 0 walks. David Freitas of all people hit a homer (the first of his brief Major League career), and Nelson Cruz hit a 2-run single to put the M’s up 3-0. The bullpen was able to keep it that way, with a scoreless inning apiece from Colome and Diaz (for hold #14 and save # 36, respectively).
That led us into last night’s game, with a chance to win the series and feel a lot better about things heading into Colorado this weekend. But, Paxton apparently never felt right even in his warmups, and just prayed that his back would loosen up during the game. It didn’t, and he was pulled 2 outs into the first inning. We were up against Anaheim’s best pitcher, and our bullpen couldn’t keep us anywhere even remotely in it (behind a 4-run inning from the completely inept Nick Rumbelow, who spent most of the year on the DL, and was mystifyingly called up after a short stint in Tacoma – THREE GAMES – even though he really has no Major League success of which to speak whatsoever! Why are we moving Heaven and Earth to get this guy to the bigs when it’s clear he needs a lot more seasoning in AAA?).
(I mean, Rumbelow has made 8 appearances – all defeats – and has given up at least 1 run in 5 of those games! How much more do you need to see out of this guy? You’re telling me there’s absolutely NO ONE ELSE down in Tacoma who can take this guy’s spot? It’s not like he’s out of options, so what the fuck?).
Anyway, getting back, the M’s lost last night 11-2. We put Andrew Romine in there to pitch the bottom of the 8th because it got so out of hand (he gave up 2 runs, yet still managed to get Trout & Pujols out, which is something he’ll have to tell the ol’ grandkids one day). It was ugly, to say the least (I’m glad I slept through this entire series, to be honest).
Aside from being super proud of my boy Marco (and, SUPER DUPER proud of my fellow M’s fans for voting Jean Segura into the All Star Game this week), it hasn’t been so hot for the Mariners of late. That’s 5 losses in 8 games, following our 8-game winning streak, following our 3-7 stretch against the Red Sox & Yankees. A real rollercoaster; the All Star Break can’t come soon e-fucking-nough.
3 more games. Felix is on the DL for the break, Paxton looks like he’ll join him there; Zunino has been keeping the shelf nice and warm with his own issues. This isn’t trending in the right direction. All of these guys need to come back fast, and not just so we can put a bunch of other guys down; the rest of the team absolutely needs to stay healthy as well.
The A’s have won a million games in a row and are now only 5 games behind us for that second wild card spot. We’re a full 3 games behind the Astros for the division. And, even though it’s essentially meaningless, our run differential is all the way down to +5. We’re 22 games over .500 and just 5 runs over .500! Do you know how insane that is? It’s insane, just in case you forgot.
We’ve got Christian Bergman going tonight. He has 1 start this year with Seattle, where he went 7 shutout innings (in a game we somehow lost 5-1) before being sent right back down to AAA. He’s been pretty good, but far from amazing, in Tacoma, so while I like him as a spot starter type, I’m pretty lukewarm on the idea of him making many multiple starts for the Mariners this year.
So, get well soon James Paxton! And, when you do come back, don’t suck balls for a month like you did last year!