God Damn These Mariners Have Been Annoying So Far!

Suffice it to say, I’ve been on vacation for Spring Break the last week. It was, uhh, not warm.

Frozen Lake Is Frozen

So, yeah, I haven’t had to slog through these 4-6 Mariners like the rest of you. I went to the game on Opening Night, the M’s won a thrilling 3-0 game over the Guardians that just zipped by, then I took the next day off of work, then I flew out to Minnesota with my family for lots of indoor activities at an otherwise lovely timeshare.

But, I’ve also been there with you, at least following along on Twitter. And it hasn’t been pleasant! Every time I turn around, the Mariners are blowing leads, getting hurt, giving up huge chunks of runs, throwing the ball all over the field (except where it’s supposed to go), and otherwise struggling to consistently hit offensively (with a few exceptions).

I can’t even can absolutely begin to tell you what’s the most disappointing aspect of these 2023 Mariners through 10 games, and (all apologies for the recency bias) I’m leaning towards the bullpen.

Yesterday’s game was potentially HUGE, and it’s infuriating to me that we blew it. Just, in general, the difference between being 5-5 and 4-6 is everything. 5-5 is so much more palatable, after a 2-5 start (with series losses at home to both the Guardians and the fucking Angels). While 4-6 obviously isn’t the end of the world, that game was the nail in the coffin for our season series against Cleveland. Had we won, we would’ve been 4-3 against them on the year (and, as such, had the tiebreaker over them come playoff time). Instead, they’re the ones who are 4-3 over us, and will take that advantage with them through the rest of the season. Cleveland figures to be direct competition with us, either as divisional champs, or as wild card fodder. Now we have to beat their record by a game if we want to stay ahead of them in the seeding.

What the fuck happened to Matt Brash?! What was all this shit about him having the best slider in Major League history? Seems a little premature and totally outlandish, if you ask me. We were fucking all set up with a 2-run lead in the bottom of the 9th and he fucking gagged it away. We really need him to come through, as the bullpen has been regularly taxed in this early going, and now that we’re down Andres Munoz (one of a disturbing number of injuries to high profile pitchers already, not even two weeks into the season), Brash figures to get the lion’s share of high-leverage situations not going to Paul Sewald.

Frankly, ONE injury is too many. But, we lost Robbie Ray after his first start of the season (after he looked so effective in Spring Training), forcing our hand in starting Chris Flexen, who is … fine. Munoz’s arm was not responding after outings, which is concerning to say the least, given the way he throws. Then, I heard Evan White has another major injury that’s going to cost him the first half of this season (if we’re lucky, it won’t be the whole year; either way, it’s another huge setback to his development).

And, oh by the way, Matt Festa has stunk (and was demoted to Tacoma this week), Brash has two blown saves already, Penn Murfee has two losses on the year (in spite of his 0.00 ERA), Diego Castillo has been predictably ineffective, and we had to call up someone named J.B. Bukauskas, who is someone I’ve never heard of in my life.

You can’t really absolve the starters though, because other than Luis Castillo (who has been OUTSTANDING through two starts, so it’s probably time to jinx him as he takes the hill later today), they’ve been pretty rough. Certainly not the strength of this team that we were all counting on heading into this season. Of course, it’s too early to panic, but not too early to at least be a little concerned.

I’ll be honest, the offense as a whole is pretty much what I expected. We’ve scored 43 runs in 10 games, that feels pretty close to what this team is. .234/.299/.374 as a team; you kinda expect the on-base numbers to improve, and the power numbers to drastically improve, but for now it is what it is. France, Julio, Cal, and Suarez are all top-notch. Kelenic has been showing some excellent progress (also helped by the lack of a shift).

But, on the flipside, we’re still waiting for Teoscar to get going. Kolten Wong has been a disaster. Indeed, all the newcomers – including Pollock, Hummel, and La Stella – have been atrocious so far. Combine that with getting nothing out of Murphy, Haggerty, or Moore (who’s still injured), and things could really be a lot better.

I think what’s most infuriating has been the defense. I don’t know if this is randomness or what, but there have been some serious breakdowns in the field, and that’s not helping matters in the slightest. Not with how the pitching has sucked, and how the hitting is just barely keeping its head above water.

I think what’s been most concerning has been our lack of success in the close games. We’re only 2-4 in games decided by 2 runs or less. That’s gotta change, and in a big way, if we want to contend for the division this year. The down-roster part of our bullpen needs to step it up in a big way. I’m including Brash in that, because until he proves over a lengthy period of time that he can hang, I can’t say I totally trust him in high-leverage situations.

I guess the good thing is, no one is running away with the A.L. West so far. We’re tied in record with Houston. The A’s are who we thought they were (2-7), and the Rangers and Angels are only 5-4 (hardly world beaters, as expected). It’s all still there for us, but we can’t go digging ourselves too big of a hole. We can’t come to depend on crazy-insane surges over the course of a season, like last year when we won 14 in a row and 22 out of 25. That doesn’t just happen every year.

But, also, we can’t freak out at every 4-6 stretch. Because this won’t be the only time this season where the Mariners play at a .400 level. It’s a long year. 152 more games to go.

Let’s go out tonight and get a W to start the new week off on a brighter note.

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