The Bullpen Was Too Much Miss, Not Enough Hit

Unless you take that phrase literally, in which case “miss”ing bats is a good thing and getting your balls “hit” is a bad thing, in which case I hate the title of this post already.

The amount of power a bullpen holds over the quality of your team’s baseball season is pretty obscene.  Granted, every area of a baseball team plays its part – hitting, defense, starting pitching, baserunning – so to get to a point where your bullpen can make or break your year means you need your starters to keep you in the game, you need your hitters to give you a lead, your defense needs to not give the other team extra outs, and you can’t take away outs from your own team by getting picked off or taking an extra base you shouldn’t have.

So, while the hitting for the Mariners wasn’t good for the longest time (mostly during the Jackie Z era), it didn’t really matter if our bullpens were good or not.

But, it’s a new day.  Our hitting is solid, our starters – for the most part – keep us in ballgames (even if they’re not particularly dominating), our defense is good enough (again, for the most part), and while our baserunning is pretty bad, it’s also a pretty small part of the game of baseball, all things considered.  A team like 2016’s Mariners had it all going for them, meaning the bullpen was the most important factor in deciding whether or not we’d make the playoffs.

And, as you can tell by our absence, obviously the bullpen wasn’t quite good enough.

For starters, the Mariners were 30-30 in 1-run games.  This is actually what one would expect.  If you’re significantly better, then it would stand to reason that you’re luckier, as these sorts of things tend to even out over time.  If you’re significantly worse, then it would stand to reason you’re unlucky.  So, we can throw luck right out the window as far as the Mariners are concerned.

The Rangers, on the other hand, were 36-11 in 1-run games, which is, like, an all-time crazy record for 1-run games.  Their dumb ass luck ran out though, when they got swept by the Blue Jays in the ALDS, going 0-1 in the playoffs in 1-run games.

Anyway, here are the records of the A.L. playoff teams in 1-run games:

  • Texas:  36-11
  • Cleveland:  28-21
  • Boston:  20-24
  • Toronto:  21-25
  • Baltimore:  21-16

So, as you can see, there’s a good mix.  Texas, Cleveland, and Baltimore were all over .500; Boston and Toronto were both a few games under.  What I noticed straight away is that the Mariners were involved in significantly MORE 1-run games than any of these teams.  37% of our games were decided by a single run.  Looking at it another way, 73% of our games (119) were decided by 4 runs or less.  So, we played a lot of close games.  I’d wager we were among the league leaders in close games.  As such, the performance of our bullpen meant a lot more than that of the rest of the American League.

The Mariners were involved in 74 save opportunities this season; we converted 49 of them, for a save percentage of 66%.  The league average was only 68%, so that doesn’t put us too far behind the 8-ball.  But, how does that compare to the playoff teams?  Let’s take a look:

  • Texas:  56 of 73, 77%
  • Cleveland:  37 of 48, 77%
  • Boston:  43 of 61, 70%
  • Toronto:  43 of 65, 66%
  • Baltimore:  54 of 68, 79%

So, as you can see, 4/5 playoff teams had superior save percentages than the Mariners.  If we’d just saved 70% of our opportunites – 2% above league average, and right in line with the playoff teams – that’s 3 more wins you could add to our total, which just so happens to be the number of games the Mariners missed the playoffs by.

The story of the 2016 Mariners bullpen kicks right off with injuries.  Charlie Furbush was a guy we’d penciled in for a significant role, but he didn’t throw a single inning.  Ryan Cook was another guy we brought in, at least on a tryout basis, but he’s a guy who’d had success as recently as 2014, and was one of the better relievers out there in 2012 & 2013; he too never pitched an inning for us.  Then, there’s Evan Scribner, who didn’t throw his first Major League pitches until September, when it turned out he’s actually terrific!  So, right off the bat, we were at a disadvantage, meaning guys like Joel Peralta and Steve Johnson were getting extended looks early in the season.

Then, you have Tony Zych, who made the Major League roster out of Spring Training.  He had the best fastball on the team, and arguably the best “stuff” of any of our relievers.  He made it to 10 appearances before he got hurt and was lost for the year (for all intents and purposes; he came back in late August for a couple of innings, but had to be quickly shut down again).  And, of course, there was Joaquin Benoit, who got hurt in April, returned about a month later, but was not the rock we needed out of our 8th inning set up guy.  He ended up being traded to Toronto for Drew Storen, where the change of scenery did both of them good.

It’s really quite remarkable, not just how the bullpen ended up looking compared to how we pictured it at the beginning of 2016, but also how it evolved throughout the season.  On top of those other injuries, Storen, Wilhelmsen, Nick Vincent, and Steve Cishek all found themselves on the DL at one point or another.  When you factor in how the starters weren’t always (or even USUALLY) at their best, this bullpen was continuously taxed nine ways from Sunday, all the way until September, when we were finally allowed to expand our roster.

This, of course, affected how we shaped the rest of our roster the first five months of the season, bringing into question why Major League Baseball limits teams to 25-man rosters, when so much of the game is specialized by way of bullpens and platoons and pinch runners and defensive replacements.  It makes no sense, when you think about it, but that’s baseball for you.  It’s the “neither here nor there” of professional sports.

If you want to know how the bullpen was doing at a particular point in the season, just look at the schedule.  You don’t need to hunt for stats to figure out when this bullpen was rolling vs. when it was sucking my will to live.  In the month of May, for instance, it was on a nice little run (the Mariners just so happened to have gone 17-11 in May); in the month of June, they fell apart (the Mariners just so happened to have gone 10-18 in June).  They were great in early August, terrible in late August, and so on and so forth.  This was one of the streakiest Mariners teams in recent memory, and those streaks almost always coincided with how the bullpen was doing.  They’d go long stretches of scoreless baseball, followed by painful stretches of agonizing baseball.  And, in the end, it all added up to 3 too many blown saves.  Who were our culprits?

Well, the first name that comes to mind is Steve Cishek, who started the season as this team’s closer, but lost that job on August 1st, after yet another meltdown.  Of his 7 blown saves, the Mariners were only able to come back and win 1 of them.  He also cost us 3 other games when he came into the game tied and took it on the chin.  Immediately after ceding control of the closer’s job to Edwin Diaz, he went on the DL, only to return to be a masterful set up man.  He’s also under contract for next year, so bank on him being back.

Edwin Diaz was lights out through his first three months or so.  We started him off slowly, but he quickly earned higher leverage roles when it was readily apparent that he was striking out everybody he faced.  He blew three saves, but we were able to come back and win two of those games.  He took 3 other losses when he came into a tie situation, but two of those games were in his pre-closer days.  He did end up taking the loss in the season-deciding game on October 1st, but he was in his 3rd inning that day, and was clearly over-worked to that point.  Diaz will go into 2017 as the frontrunner for the closer role.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to manage his outings a little better.  He was on pace to make something like 74 appearances over the course of a full season, so maybe we can try to shave off 5-10 next year, since he’s still a growing boy and all.

When you take a look at the actual numbers for our bullpen, one name sticks out like a sore thumb:  Nick Vincent.  Even though he had a spell on the DL, he’s one of those constants you can point to on this team this year.  He was brought in just before the regular season, and almost immediately entered the regular rotation as one of our high-leverage pitchers.  What sticks out is that Nick Vincent of all people was involved in 9 save situations, and somehow managed to blow SIX of them!  One fewer than Steve Cishek, and double the number of blown saves of Edwin Diaz; what in the holy fuck?

As I’ve said before, Vincent isn’t bad, but he’s also not a guy – in an ideal world – you want in there late in the game with a lead.  He’s a guy who should be used earlier in games, when the starter gets knocked out prematurely.  Or, put him in there in the 6th/7th innings, or in games where it’s close but we’re trailing.  I’m not saying he can’t handle the pressure of high-leverage, game-winning situations, but I’m VERY MUCH saying his stuff is weaksauce and I’m surprised guys didn’t smack him around more than they did.  Unfortunately, the 2016 Mariners bullpen was far from an ideal world, so he was counted upon more than he should’ve been.  It’s one of the reasons why he hit the DL in the first place; he simply wasn’t used to pitching that much, and his body couldn’t take it!

His semi-saving grace is that only 3 of his 6 blown saves led to losses.  But, again, he accounted for 4 other defeats in tie-game situations.  Of our pitchers who were exclusively relievers, who threw a minimum of 20 innings this year, Vincent was one of only two who had a negative Win Probability Added, leading me to believe that it’s pretty difficult for a reliever to GET a negative rating for this stat over the course of a full (or even PARTIAL) season.

For what it’s worth, Vidal Nuno is the other reliever to have a negative WPA.  I was about to dismiss his numbers though, as he seemed to be used mostly in mop-up duties, but apparently he appeared in the 4th most high leverage situations of guys in our bullpen at 16.  The only people to appear in more high leverage games were Vincent (24), Diaz (26) and Cishek (37).  Diaz had a whopping 1.9 WPA (meaning he alone was worth nearly 2 wins by himself), and Cishek actually had a respectable 0.7 WPA (or he was worth nearly 1 win by himself).

Most of the guys had their ups and downs, but I’d like to point out a few of the good ones.  Drew Storen was actually pretty great, especially considering Toronto was THIS CLOSE to DFA’ing his ass before they traded him to us for Benoit.  Tom Wilhelmsen, same deal (especially considering his stint in Texas, when he was worth -0.9 WPA in 21 games before they did DFA his ass).  Mike Montgomery was also one of the good ones, which is why it’s so unfortunate that he was traded away to the Cubs mid-season.  He’s a pretty rock solid reliever, and he’s good for the occasional spot start, which in my book makes him invaluable, but in the Mariners’ book makes him worth Dan Vogelbach.  Scribner, as I said before, had the all-world September; and Arquimedes Caminero has some lethal stuff, if only he can harness it.

Going into 2017, there’s a lot to like about this unit.  We’re, unfortunately, going to be without Charlie Furbush again, as he needed surgery that would keep him out ANOTHER year, but hopefully with certain guys returning, we can solidify this part of our team and not have to worry about it so much.

Guys I like:

  • Edwin Diaz
  • Steve Cishek
  • Evan Scribner
  • Tony Zych

If we can get these guys back and keep them healthy, that’s as good a foundation to a bullpen as can be.

Guys I like, sort of:

  • Drew Storen
  • Nick Vincent
  • Tom Wilhelmsen
  • Vidal Nuno

Storen isn’t under contract, so the team would have to go out and re-sign him, but I think for the right price, that could be a nice little move for this team.  The rest of these guys, I could take or leave.  I don’t totally trust any of them in high leverage situations, so I’d PREFER they stick to 6th/7th innings, or in extras; but, I also wouldn’t be devastated if the team traded them away or otherwise got rid of them.

Guys I find interesting:

  • Arquimedes Caminero
  • Dan Altavilla

Caminero I talked about before.  Altavilla is another one of these guys (like Diaz) where the Mariners brought him up straight from AA.  He was called up late in the season for the team to get a look at him, and only 3 of his 15 appearances were in high leverage situations, but he showed good stuff, and if he carries that over into Spring Training, I could easily see him making this roster.  If he proves he’s got what it takes to do well in those high leverage situations, he could find himself quickly climbing into the Guys I Like category.

All the other bullpen guys on the roster feel like Spring Training fodder and little more.  The team is in desperate need of a quality left-handed reliever, so I’d expect them to make a move in that regard in the not-too-distant future.  My way-too-early prediction for next season has our bullpen looking like this:

  • Diaz – closer
  • Cishek
  • Scribner
  • Zych
  • Vincent
  • Altavilla
  • Random Lefty Not Currently In The Organization

Depending on the lefty, that strikes me as a bullpen we can work with!  Again, assuming they’re utilized properly.

Mr. Dipoto’s Wild Ride

Jerry Dipoto was hired to be Seattle’s general manager on September 28, 2015.  His first major move was claiming Cody Martin off waivers from Oakland on October 19th.  Four days later, he hired Scott Servais to be his manager.  From there, we were off and running in the Jerry Dipoto Era.

He made a lot of moves in the ol’ transactions wire, both large and small.  I tried to pull most of the ones relevant to the 2016 Mariners’ Major League ballclub.  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to go ahead and rank his moves from most impactful to least, with commentary on each.  At the very bottom of the post, I’ll throw in a section with just the transactions in chronological order, so you can see them all lined up in a neat little pile.

Also, if you want to know my overall thoughts on Dipoto’s first year as the GM of the Mariners, you’ll find my closing arguments at the bottom (just before the chronological list of important transactions).  This post has TL;DR written all over it!

12/2/15 – Baltimore Orioles traded C Steve Clevenger to Seattle Mariners for RF Mark Trumbo and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser.

This one feels like cheating, but I’m still putting this at #1 because it’s so laughably lopsided against the Mariners, it harkens back to the Bill Bavasi glory days.  Trumbo was an All Star outfielder on a wild card team who hit 47 homers, 108 RBI, and all around had his best season ever.  Granted, the same problems were still there – a low batting average, a not-great on-base percentage, a shit-ton of strikeouts – but if you’re just talking about the right-handed half of a corner outfield platoon, making just a hair over $9 million, would you rather have his massive bat or Franklin Gutierrez making $2.5 million?  I know we love Guti and all of that, but his defense isn’t all that much better than Trumbo’s, and there’s no comparing the hitting numbers.  Even in a very minor role, Guti still had a down year by his standards.  And, of course, who can forget what we got back in return?  Aside from salary saved (that, as far as I can tell, ended up going to Joaquin Benoit, so *fart noise*), we got a left-handed backup catcher in Steve Clevenger who hardly ever played, then broke a bone in his hand, then said a bunch of racist shit on Twitter, then was suspended for the rest of the year, before ultimately (I’m assuming) being released.  On top of ALL of that, this trade had a direct impact on the standings.  The Orioles probably would’ve made a different move to acquire a power bat, but it almost certainly wouldn’t have been as good.  And, we ended up finishing 3 games behind Baltimore in the wild card.  So, we sent what would become their very best power bat and run producer to our direct rival, who snatched up the final A.L. playoff spot by just a handful of games.  Inauspicious start to say the least.

11/16/15 – Texas Rangers traded CF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass to Seattle Mariners for RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, CF James Jones and PTBNL (3B Patrick Kivlehan).

Let’s follow that turd sandwich with the opposite of that (vagina pizza?).  The Rangers ended up signing Ian Desmond on a 1-year, $8 million deal later on in the offseason (leaving me to wonder why we just didn’t fucking do that, but whatever), so I don’t totally understand why they were so keen to let Leonys Martin go, but obviously they didn’t see him in their future plans.  Martin ended up starting for us from day 1, playing a superb centerfield, and even blowing away his season high for homers with 15.  All in all, he was slightly better than we thought he’d be, with two more years of Arbitration to go.  While he’ll never be a superstar, he’s a solid offensive piece and an elite defensive talent.  The fact that we ended up getting back 2/3 of this trade for nothing later in the season is the hilarious part, along with the fact that Wilhelmsen was a dumpster fire while wearing a Rangers uniform (and sort of his usual okay self when the alleged double-agent returned to Seattle), and the fact that James Jones is who we thought he was.  We essentially gave the Rangers nothing and got a starting centerfielder for a minimum of 3 years in return.  Not too shabby.

12/18/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Hisashi Iwakuma.

We all know the story of how the Mariners got Iwakuma back in the fold, but if you don’t know, go here and read this.  What I will say is, to anyone making any sort of argument that the Mariners’ cost-cutting measures helped pave the way for Kuma’s return, you can go fuck yourself, because you’re full of shit.  Those moves were made well before we got Kuma back, and were under the assumption that he was going to go elsewhere for a higher guaranteed contract than we were willing to pay.  The owners, to their credit, opted to make room in the budget to bring him back when the opportunity presented itself, and it paid off pretty well, all things considered.  Without Kuma, things could’ve been A LOT worse (I don’t know if I made that point well enough in that linked post up there, but it’s true; the AAA starting prospects were pretty shabby).

12/14/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Steve Cishek.

Two years, $10 million, plus incentives.  He secured 25 saves and blew 7 of them.  That’s a lot of blown saves in what amounted to a little over half a season’s worth of closing ballgames, particularly for a team that finished 3 games out of the wild card.  Overall, his numbers actually look pretty good on the season, and at times he approached the level of dominance he once had back in 2013.  But, a career-high 8 homers allowed really did him in.  He was pretty dominant against righties, but lefties hit 5 of those 8 homers, in significantly fewer plate appearances.  With him losing his job to Edwin Diaz the way he did, he projects to be an 8th inning set up man in 2017, with an outside chance of regaining his closer’s job should Diaz falter in his Sophomore season.

12/9/15 – Milwaukee Brewers traded 1B Adam Lind to Seattle Mariners for RHP Carlos Herrera, RHP Daniel Missaki and RHP Freddy Peralta.

Meet Adam Lind, your left-handed first baseman platoon partner.  He had a few memorable late-game hits (walk-offs and whatnot), but for the most part Lind was a huge disappointment.  His numbers took a significant dive compared to his career norms, and they never really recovered the way we all hoped.  He was essentially a replacement-level player making $8 million.  On the plus side, we likely didn’t give up anyone special to get him, but suffice it to say, first base is the hole that can never be filled.

7/31/16 – Seattle Mariners traded LHP Wade Miley to Baltimore Orioles for LHP Ariel Miranda.

12/7/15 – Boston Red Sox traded RHP Jonathan Aro and LHP Wade Miley to Seattle Mariners for RHP Carson Smith and LHP Roenis Elias.

Ahh, the Miley deals.  I ranked the deal sending him away higher than the deal bringing him in for a couple reasons.  For starters, while he spent more time in Seattle doing everything he could to ruin our playoff chances, we were able to deal him to our main rival in Baltimore, where he proceeded to do everything he could to ruin their playoff chances.  We were able to dump salary (and increase theirs), while at the same time getting in return a potential future starter, at a minimum salary, with many years of club control.  On the flipside, those Red Sox really swindled us good!  Though, it had no effect on the 2016 season, as neither Smith nor Elias hardly played at all due to injuries/ineffectiveness.  The decider could be Jonathan Aro – who made all of one appearance with the big league ballclub – but I’d put my money on Carson Smith returning at some point and being a dominant late-game reliever.

11/5/15 – Seattle Mariners traded SS Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison and RHP Danny Farquhar to Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Nathan Karns, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and CF Boog Powell.

I downgraded this move mostly for the incomplete/unknown nature of the various players involved.  I will say that Brad Miller ended up hitting 30 homers for Tampa, and playing a decent number of games at first base, leading me to wonder what could have been had we held onto him and Trumbo and either platooned them both at first, or at various positions around the field.  Miller’s overall batting numbers are nothing to write home about, but those homers would’ve looked awfully nice in a Seattle uniform.  In return, we got about half a season out of Karns, who was mostly mediocre.  He’s still a starter with lots of club control, but now he’s injured, and I’d say no news is bad news when it comes to his injury, as it doesn’t appear he’s anywhere close to returning to action.  And, if he does, will he ever make good on his promise?  I’m starting to have my doubts.  The one saving grace might be Boog Powell, but he spent most of 2016 suspended for ‘roids or some damn thing.  Besides, at best he appears to be a 4th outfielder, so all in all, I’d say this is another major trade we got killed in.  It particularly hurts because Brad Miller is cheap, versatile, with lots of club control, and we essentially got back nothing in return.

12/3/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent LF Norichika Aoki.

Aoki signed a 2-year deal, but only 2016 was guaranteed.  His 2017 option would’ve vested at 480 plate appearances, but he only managed 467.  He ended up earning just shy of $6 million this year, but lost out on $6 million next year by 13 PA’s.  He likely would’ve had a lot less, but he ended the last two months absolutely on FIRE at the plate, and we couldn’t sit him.  Even with his finish, I’d say he was a net-negative for this team, considering his defense was pretty galling, and his base running was even worse.  The team already has Seth Smith under club control next year, so I can’t imagine we bring Aoki back unless we deal Smith first.  File this under:  Eh, It Was Worth A Shot.

3/30/16 – San Diego Padres traded RHP Nick Vincent to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL.

Faced with a bevy of bullpen injuries in Spring Training, this was an underrated move just before the regular season that ended up paying off.  Until it stopped paying off, like a hot black jack table with a new dealer.  All in all, Nick Vincent was a fine reliever in 2016, but he was savagely over-used, and I can’t really blame Servais for it either, because he didn’t really have a whole lotta options in the first half of the season.  It wasn’t until Dipoto made all of his summer deals when the Mariners could finally cobble together a workable bullpen.  By that point, injuries (directly attributed to said overuse) piled up on Vincent, sending him on a DL stint.  He did return, and was okay, but by that point he was behind a number of superior relievers, which was appropriate.  Vincent should be nobody’s 8th inning guy.  Save him for the blowouts and the extra innings affairs and you’ll be in better shape.

11/23/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent C Chris Iannetta.

He started off hot in April, cooled off in May, and I contend he ended up losing his starter’s job because the team overused him (though, this time I DO blame Servais).  We brought Clevenger in here in that ill-fated Trumbo deal, so why didn’t we use him more?  Was he REALLY that terrible?  If so, why bring him in in the first place?  Seems to me they made a snap judgment in Spring Training, refused to give Clevenger a consistent chance, even though when he did start, he looked pretty okay.  Iannetta, on the other hand, proved to be a pretty big disaster defensively, and his power was drained to zero by the second half of the season.  Now, it’s neither here nor there that Clevenger ended up breaking his hand, opening the door for Mike Zunino’s triumphant return.  All I know is Iannetta is under contract at over $4 million next year, and he figures to be this team’s backup catcher.  Not ideal use of funds.

2/3/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent 1B Dae-ho Lee to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

Oh how I love Dae-ho Lee, let me count the ways!  He started the season by knocking Jesus Montero off the roster, which is always nice.  He secured the right-handed platoon of first base, and ended up by and large outplaying Adam Lind.  On top of that, some early heroics endeared him to the fanbase for all eternity.  But, he did cool off considerably as the season went along, and with that his playing opportunities dwindled.  He spent some time in Tacoma, to regain his swing, but never really made much of an impact in the stretch run.  His defense was a pleasant surprise, and his ability to go the other way kept opposing defenses honest.  Then again, his base running was predictably bad.  But, he was cheap, earning just $1 million, while being worth every penny.  Word is the team wants him back for 2017, and I don’t blame ’em!  I’d like to see him back as well!  I don’t know if he’ll ever be an everyday starter, but I’m curious to see how his game will grow now that he’s got a season’s worth of experience in the Majors.

11/11/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RF Franklin Gutierrez.

As noted above in the Trumbo section, this turned out to be less than ideal.  Complain all you want about there not being any right handed power bats on the market, but we fucking gave one away in Trumbo!  The plus side on Guti is that he’s cheaper, he’s well-liked in the clubhouse, and he doesn’t need to or even want to play everyday.  He’ll always be as prepared as can be in a pinch, so that’s not something to worry about.  But, in the end, he’s another year older, and his body has been ravaged by injuries and illnesses over the years.  His defense has taken a huge step back, and I don’t think any part of his game is ever going to get better; it can, indeed, only get worse.  Sounds like the team wants him back too, but I think that’s a mistake.

7/20/16 – Seattle Mariners traded RHP Jordan Pries and LHP Mike Montgomery to Chicago Cubs for 1B Dan Vogelbach and RHP Paul Blackburn.

Oh what could’ve been with Mike Montgomery.  As I’ve written about repeatedly, this was a deal made to sell high on an iffy bullpen piece, for hopefully a future starter at first base.  Montgomery proved with his ongoing stint with the Cubs that he’s here to stay, and this one might end up backfiring even more depending on how long and impressive his Major League career ends up being.  Shades of Matt Thornton, if you ask me.  In return, Dan Vogelbach, who got a cup of coffee with the Mariners, but still looks pretty raw.  He figures to get a shot in Spring Training (at least in a platoon role), but I have serious doubts.  If anything, he probably figures to be a placeholder until one of our other impressive first base prospects is ready to make the jump.  Don’t be shocked if, come June 2017, D.J. Peterson has supplanted Vogelbach (that is, assuming we don’t go out on the open market to bring in a veteran).

7/26/16 – Toronto Blue Jays traded RHP Drew Storen and cash to Seattle Mariners for RHP Joaquin Benoit.

11/12/15 – San Diego Padres traded RHP Joaquin Benoit to Seattle Mariners for RHP Enyel De Los Santos and SS Nelson Ward.

The Joaquin Benoit deals!  He cost upwards of $8 million this year, and he ended up being a total dud, first hitting the DL for a protracted injury, then being a lump of crap upon his return.  Makes you wonder how he was ever good in the first place, but then he went to Toronto and pitched lights out the rest of the year.  Hence why that deal is ranked higher.  I don’t think we gave up much of anything to get him (seemed like a cost-cutting move by the Padres, if anything), but we did end up getting back an interesting piece in Drew Storen.  One of those Change of Scenery deals that ACTUALLY works, as Storen was MUCH better as a member of the Mariners than he was in a Blue Jays uni.  Of course, this move helped/hurt both teams, as Toronto was the other wild card team that had us by 3 games by season’s end.  They got the better of us ever-so-slightly, as Benoit proved to be the healthier option than Storen, and the more important piece to their bullpen than Storen was to ours.  Both are UFA’s this year, and neither figures to make a substantial salary; I could easily see Storen returning to Seattle if the price is right.

2/9/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Joel Peralta to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

6/22/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent Tom Wilhelmsen.

12/8/15 – Oakland Athletics traded RHP Evan Scribner to Seattle Mariners for RHP Trey Cochran-Gill.

I’m going to start lumping a bunch of moves in, as I failed to anticipate how long this post would end up being.  Peralta was a longtime vet brought in on an invite to Spring Training.  He ended up winning a job in our bullpen thanks to lots of injuries ahead of him.  He was also pretty okay in March, but it would not last long.  We ended up designating him for assignment in June, after it was clear his Major League career was done.  Similarly, Tom Wilhelmsen – in on that Leonys Martin deal – had a hard luck stint with the Rangers.  They’d finally had enough of him by June, and we were more than happy to bring him back.  A veteran, making the minimum, familiar with the organization, willing to go to Tacoma to work on some things, while at the same time able to fill in on Seattle’s bullpen that was sort of in shambles at this point of the season.  Wilhelmsen ended up being who we thought he was, which is far from elite, but at the same time far from the waste of space he was for Texas.  Scribner spent the bulk of 2016 on the DL.  He returned in September and was FAR AND AWAY our best reliever in those 12 appearances, giving up 0 runs and only 5 hits in 14 innings.  Where was THAT when we needed it April through August?  He’s under club control for three more years, and if he pitches anywhere close to what he was in September, this trade with Oakland looks MUCH better than it already is.

6/22/16 – Toronto Blue Jays traded LHP Wade LeBlanc to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL.

One of these days, I’d like to write a book about Wade LeBlanc’s 2016 season, because something sure as shit doesn’t add up.  We traded for him at probably our lowest point in the season (most likely for cash), and he was inserted into our rotation when most everyone else was injured.  AND HE WAS ALL RIGHT!  He didn’t turn the world on with his smile or anything, but he was somewhat competent!  He had 5 quality starts out of 8, and he looked no worse than Ariel Miranda.  Of course, there’s no point in having both Miranda and LeBlanc in your rotation at the same time, unless you’re just riddled with injuries, but who’s to say LeBlanc couldn’t have taken to a bullpen role?  He sure as shit took to it with Pittsburgh, when we dealt him to the Pirates in September!  He gave up 1 earned run in 12 innings with them!  I hope that PTBNL we get back from the Pirates is something more than just the cash we gave away to the Blue Jays in June.

8/6/16 – Pittsburgh Pirates traded RHP Arquimedes Caminero to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL and Future Considerations (LHP Jake Brentz and RHP Pedro Vasquez).

10/19/15 – Seattle Mariners claimed Cody Martin off waivers from Oakland Athletics.

Caminero came to Seattle and tore the A.L. a new asshole with his 100mph fastball.  Unfortunately, when teams started sitting dead red, and when he lost his command, they tore him a new asshole right back.  You can’t help but be intrigued by a guy like that, and hopefully our coaches are able to work with him mechanically to help him reign in some of that explosiveness.  Regardless, we’ve got 4 more years of club control on a guy with a ton of upside, so I like the move.  As for Cody Martin, I don’t know what to tell you.  He made a couple of spot starts for us, and a few more relief appearances, but other than mop up duty in extra innings games, he didn’t provide much of an impact.  He started primarily with Tacoma, and he figures to do more of the same in 2017.

3/1/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent CF Guillermo Heredia.

8/31/16 – New York Yankees traded RF Ben Gamel to Seattle Mariners for RHP Jio Orozco and RHP Juan De Paula.

I honestly have no idea where Heredia came from, what he was doing for the entirety of the 2015 calendar year, or anything other than we signed him as a free agent out of Cuba.  But, he tore through the minors and was called up to be primarily a defensive replacement in the outfield.  He figures to compete with Ben Gamel, among other guys, to be one of this team’s reserve outfielders.  Heredia bats righty and Gamel lefty, so it’s not like they’re in direct competition, but they sort of are, with Heredia on the inside track considering this organization’s lack of right handed bats.  They’re both for the most part on the same level, talent-wise, with Heredia having the higher ceiling, and Gamel more likely to be Major League-ready.  The 2017 outfield figures to be pretty jam-packed, with centerfield already on lockdown, so guys like Heredia and Gamel have a long way to go.

8/1/16 – Seattle Mariners claimed 1B Mike Freeman off waivers from Arizona Diamondbacks.

6/19/16 – Seattle Mariners traded SS Chris Taylor to Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Zach Lee.

11/20/15 – Seattle Mariners traded CF Ramon Flores to Milwaukee Brewers for 2B Luis Sardinas.

The Mariners never really figured out their reserve infielder spot.  Ultimately, Shawn O’Malley took the bull by the horns, but he’s not really much better than any of these guys listed here.  Luis Sardinas had the first crack at the job, but quickly proved to be ineffective (ultimately traded away to San Diego in August).  Chris Taylor had about the shortest opportunity I’ve ever seen, but in what I want to say was his only start with us this year, he had 2 errors and was sent away almost immediately afterward.  He ended up predictably doing nothing for the Dodgers (after his leadoff triple with them right after the trade), so no big loss.  Mike Freeman had some memorable plate appearances (particularly in that Anaheim series during Griffey weekend), and should be around to compete for the backup infielder spot next year.

3/17/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Steve Johnson to a minor league contract.

8/6/16 – Toronto Blue Jays traded LHP Pat Venditte to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL (2B Tim Lopes).

11/6/15 – Seattle Mariners claimed LF Daniel Robertson off waivers from Los Angeles Angels.

1/12/16 – Los Angeles Dodgers traded RHP Joe Wieland to Seattle Mariners for SS Erick Mejia.

These last deals aren’t really even worth mentioning, but I stuck them down here at the bottom anyway.  Steve Johnson appeared in 16 games, almost exclusively as the very last man in the bullpen.  When it became readily apparent he was a waste of space, we cut him loose in mid-June.  Pat Venditte is the switch-pitcher we brought in, who got his cup of coffee with us in September, almost exclusively in blowout situations.  I don’t know if he’ll ever be much more than a novelty.  Robertson appeared in 9 games, and for the life of me, I can’t remember a thing about any of ’em.  Apparently, they took place in July.  He obviously didn’t make much of an impression, as he didn’t return in September with the rest of the call-ups.  Finally, Joe Wieland appeared in one game, making a spot start on August 12th against the A’s.  He gave up 6 runs in 5 innings, as we lost 6-3.  We ended up trading him to the Braves in September, rendering him as little more than a trivia question answer, and not even an interesting one.

***

So, all in all, how would I rate Jerry Dipoto’s first year on the job?  I’d say of all the moves I listed above, about half of them were good and half of them were bad.  I would say the trades were particularly bad (including the Trumbo, Lind, 1st Miley, and Karns deals) with only the Leonys Martin deal having a real positive impact.  He was able to find a lot of value towards the back-end of the roster, particularly the bullpen, as the season went along, and he was smart to fill the roster with veterans, considering the closing competitive windows of our aging stars.  Ultimately, the Mariners improved by 10 games in his first year, so that’s certainly a feather in his cap.  But, I think a lot of that was achieved by players already here.  Cano having a bounce-back year, Seager improving, Zunino improving, Paxton making more of an impact, and so on and so forth.

What Dipoto needs to do now is find a way to fill some of these holes that are still dogging us.  First base, short stop, corner outfield.  He needs to find cost-effective ways to bolster our pitching staff.  And, let’s face it, he needs a little luck to go his way.  This team is close.  So very close to making the post-season and breaking this streak.  But, at the same time, it’s also pretty damn close from bottoming out yet again.  Is Dipoto the man for the job?  Time will tell, but I’m going to reserve any enthusiasm I have for the man until I see some actual results on the field.

It’s playoffs or bust, Jerry!  You’ll get a “good job” out of me when I see some rings on the fingers of these players.

***

Important Mariners Transactions for the 2016 Season

  • 10/19/15 – Seattle Mariners claimed Cody Martin off waivers from Oakland Athletics.
  • 11/5/15 – Seattle Mariners traded SS Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison and RHP Danny Farquhar to Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Nathan Karns, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and CF Boog Powell.
  • 11/6/15 – Seattle Mariners claimed LF Daniel Robertson off waivers from Los Angeles Angels.
  • 11/11/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RF Franklin Gutierrez.
  • 11/12/15 – San Diego Padres traded RHP Joaquin Benoit to Seattle Mariners for RHP Enyel De Los Santos and SS Nelson Ward.
  • 11/16/15 – Texas Rangers traded CF Leonys Martin and RHP Anthony Bass to Seattle Mariners for RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, CF James Jones and PTBNL (3B Patrick Kivlehan).
  • 11/20/15 – Seattle Mariners traded CF Ramon Flores to Milwaukee Brewers for 2B Luis Sardinas.
  • 11/23/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent C Chris Iannetta.
  • 12/2/15 – Baltimore Orioles traded C Steve Clevenger to Seattle Mariners for RF Mark Trumbo and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser.
  • 12/2/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Justin De Fratus.
  • 12/3/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent LF Norichika Aoki.
  • 12/7/15 – Boston Red Sox traded RHP Jonathan Aro and LHP Wade Miley to Seattle Mariners for RHP Carson Smith and LHP Roenis Elias.
  • 12/8/15 – Oakland Athletics traded RHP Evan Scribner to Seattle Mariners for RHP Trey Cochran-Gill.
  • 12/9/15 – Milwaukee Brewers traded 1B Adam Lind to Seattle Mariners for RHP Carlos Herrera, RHP Daniel Missaki and RHP Freddy Peralta.
  • 12/14/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Steve Cishek.
  • 12/18/15 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Hisashi Iwakuma.
  • 1/7/16 – Seattle Mariners released RHP Anthony Bass.
  • 1/12/16 – Los Angeles Dodgers traded RHP Joe Wieland to Seattle Mariners for SS Erick Mejia.
  • 2/3/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent 1B Dae-Ho Lee to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
  • 2/9/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Joel Peralta to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
  • 3/1/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent CF Guillermo Heredia.
  • 3/17/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Steve Johnson to a minor league contract.
  • 3/28/16 – Toronto Blue Jays claimed 1B Jesus Montero off waivers from Seattle Mariners.
  • 3/30/16 – San Diego Padres traded RHP Nick Vincent to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL.
  • 5/29/16 – Texas Rangers traded 3B Patrick Kivlehan to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL (RHP Justin De Fratus).
  • 6/2/16 – Seattle Mariners designated RHP Joel Peralta for assignment.
  • 6/17/16 – Seattle Mariners designated RHP Steve Johnson for assignment.
  • 6/19/16 – Seattle Mariners traded SS Chris Taylor to Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Zach Lee.
  • 6/22/16 – Toronto Blue Jays traded LHP Wade LeBlanc to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL.
  • 6/22/16 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent Tom Wilhelmsen.
  • 7/20/16 – Seattle Mariners traded RHP Jordan Pries and LHP Mike Montgomery to Chicago Cubs for 1B Dan Vogelbach and RHP Paul Blackburn.
  • 7/26/16 – Toronto Blue Jays traded RHP Drew Storen and cash to Seattle Mariners for RHP Joaquin Benoit.
  • 7/31/16 – Seattle Mariners traded LHP Wade Miley to Baltimore Orioles for LHP Ariel Miranda.
  • 8/1/16 – Seattle Mariners designated 3B Patrick Kivlehan for assignment.
  • 8/1/16 – Seattle Mariners claimed 1B Mike Freeman off waivers from Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • 8/6/16 – Toronto Blue Jays traded LHP Pat Venditte to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL (2B Tim Lopes).
  • 8/6/16 – Pittsburgh Pirates traded RHP Arquimedes Caminero to Seattle Mariners for PTBNL and Future Considerations (LHP Jake Brentz and RHP Pedro Vasquez).
  • 8/15/16 – Seattle Mariners sent Daniel Robertson outright to Tacoma Rainiers.
  • 8/15/16 – Seattle Mariners traded 2B Luis Sardinas to San Diego Padres for Player To Be Named Later.
  • 8/31/16 – New York Yankees traded RF Ben Gamel to Seattle Mariners for RHP Jio Orozco and RHP Juan De Paula.
  • 9/13/16 Seattle Mariners traded LHP Wade LeBlanc to Pittsburgh Pirates for PTBNL.
  • 9/14/16 Seattle Mariners traded RHP Joe Wieland to Atlanta Braves for PTBNL.

Mariners Keep Throwing Shit Against The Wall, Desperate For Some To Stick

There have been a TON of moves this month, as the Mariners have tried to replace struggling players, have tried to overcome an over-worked bullpen, and have been dealing with a grip of injuries.  So, where do I begin?

Triple-A short stop Chris Taylor was traded to the Dodgers for a similarly-disappointing prospect, in Triple-A starter Zach Lee.  Lee went directly to Tacoma where he’s made one start so far, going 6 innings and giving up 5 runs in about what you’d expect the Mariners would get for someone like Chris Taylor.  Taylor, on the other hand, just got called up to the Dodgers today, making his first start for them, going 1 for 4 with a triple and a run scored, because fuck me.  Fuck us.  Fuck every God damn one of us.

The Mariners made another trade last week, getting starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc from the Blue Jays for Cash or a Player To Be Named Later.  LeBlanc had been in Triple-A for Toronto, putting up some pretty solid numbers, which leads me to believe that he’s better than everyone the Mariners have in Tacoma right now.  That goes double since Adrian Sampson – who made one start for the M’s in Boston last week – injured his arm and is out for the year.  So be it.  At least LeBlanc looked good, shutting out the Cardinals over 6 innings last Friday.

I don’t know if he forces the hand of the Mariners, but right now – believe it or not – there’s actually a numbers crunch in the rotation!  Count ’em out:  Kuma, Paxton, Walker returns this week after getting skipped in the rotation to rest his leg, Miley returns this week after making a start in Everett, and Karns is still a thing that exists for now.  That makes five, with LeBlanc possibly busting down the door.  I don’t know if one quality start is enough to supplant someone like Karns, but this may be more of a case of a guy playing his way OUT of the rotation, rather than LeBlanc playing his way in.

Of course, there’s also the bullpen to think about, running an absurd 8-deep at this point (with Aoki trying to regain his stroke in Tacoma).  The usual suspects are still hanging in there – Cishek, Benoit, Montgomery, Nuno, Vincent, Diaz – with Donn Roach and David Rollins currently rounding it out.  Roach pitched twice over the weekend, once well, once not so.  Rollins is more of a lefty specialist who has two scoreless appearances to his name so far.

Jonathan Aro got a call up for about a minute, making one scoreless appearance.  Cody Martin got a call up at the beginning of the month, making two appearances and getting a win in that crazy comeback game in San Diego.  Steve Johnson was DFA’d and I have no idea what he’s up to.  Tony Zych was bumped to the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man (looking no closer to returning to action whatsoever).  And … who’s that making his glorious return to Seattle?

WHO’S THAT WARMING UP IN THE BULLPEN?

OH MY GOD, IT’S TOM WILHELMSEN!!!

He of the 10.55 ERA with the Texas Rangers was released and refused an assignment with their Triple-A squad, so the Mariners snapped him up and yeah, even he made an appearance last week, pitching a scoreless inning before being sent down to Tacoma to work on his shit.

For what it’s worth, in what was once a multi-person (Wilhelmsen & Kivlehan have since returned to the Mariners’ organization for nothing) trade with the Rangers for Leonys Martin, it’s now turned into a straight up James Jones for Leonys Martin swap, which is a fucking STEAL for the Mariners rn.

Anyhoo, does everyone got it?  Are all those transactions registering?  Is your head swimming like mine?  At this point, it’s WAY too early to make assumptions that any of these moves are going to work or not work.  But, I think we can all agree this shitty month of June has made the Mariners as desperate as can be.  It’d be nice if at least a COUPLE guys went right.

Who Are The Real Mariners?

I use this logic a lot when I’m describing a team:  good teams find a way to win close games.  Conversely, bad teams find ways to lose those games.  In the first two months, by and large, the Mariners were finding ways to win those 50/50 games they would’ve lost in years past.  In June, where we’re halfway through and the Mariners are already 4-9, the Mariners are finding every way imaginable to lose the games they were just winning a few weeks ago!

Last night, the Mariners did everything right.  They jumped all over a good pitcher early, locking in a 5-2 lead before Walker fell apart and had to be pulled due to an achilles injury.  Still, it was 5-4 heading into the 7th inning, and you know what?  That should be enough.  The bullpen has one fucking job.  Each guy in that bullpen, ALL they have to do, is get somewhere between 1-3 batters out when you’re at that point in the game.  Generally:  one guy pitches the 7th, one guy pitches the 8th, and Cishek comes in to close it out in the 9th.

HOW FUCKING HARD IS IT TO GET THREE HITTERS OUT?

A one run lead heading into the 7th should just be a victory for your team, period.  If you can’t hold that down, then you have no business playing in this league.

But, fine, you know what?  The Mariners did this bullpen a huge favor by tacking on TWO MORE runs in the top of the 7th!  So, a 1-run lead became what should’ve been an insurmountable 3-run lead, and at this point you’re just TRYING to give away baseball games if you blow a 3-run lead with three innings to go!

So, in trots Nick Vincent, he of the 87 mph fastball that lopes gently across the plate; it’s a wonder how he’s not hit harder more often.  He, of course, gave up a hit and a walk before allowing the game-tying 3-run homer, and it was all academic at that point.  Mike Montgomery came in and proceeded to suck the dick of everyone in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and what was once a sure-thing victory turned into yet another demoralizing defeat.

Did you know the Mariners are winless in the last five games decided by 1 run?  That, of course, is dating back to the series with the Twins, where all this misery started in the first place.  So, what is it?  Who are the REAL Mariners?  Was it the team rocking and rolling through most of the first two months of the season?  Is that team just hitting a rough patch?  Or, are THESE the real Mariners?  And THESE Mariners just happened to have been playing an unsustainably-good brand of baseball for the first 8 weeks of the season?

I’m afraid I’m out of answers on this one.  Trying to figure out the Seattle Mariners makes my head hurt.

Again, I hate to be a broken record, but I have no problem whatsoever with the hitting.  Granted, the Mariners were 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position last night … BUT THEY SCORED SEVEN FUCKING RUNS!  I don’t give a SHIT how they score them; if they’re consistently averaging over 5 runs per game, they’re doing their jobs!  If they score SEVEN runs in a game, they should damn well win that motherfucking game!  So, shove your devil’s advocate argument up your fucking asshole, because I’m not buying it!

This is all on the pitching, which is – for the record – the part of the team that was most overhauled in the offseason.  I’ll praise Jerry Dipoto until the cows come home for the way he invigorated the lineup and our defensive presence; but by the same token, you have to criticize him a little bit for the way the pitching was handled.

If you even want to call Iwakuma a “positive” presence on this team, then I’ll give you that, but you’ve got to give ME the fact that Dipoto was lucky to have him fall in his lap.  Iwakuma was all but a Dodger until they backed out of the deal, at which point suddenly Mariners ownership found a few extra sheckles to give him a deal.  But, I wouldn’t say that was Dipoto working his Dipoto Magic.

Wade Miley has been a disaster to this point.  That’s not to say he won’t turn it around, but halfway into June, Miley sucks.  To get him, we gave up a young, cheap starter with lots of club control (Roenis Elias, who by the way, we’ll be seeing start against us when we hit Boston this weekend) and a potentially-elite reliever in Carson Smith, who is awesome when healthy (and also cheap, with lots of club control), but obviously hasn’t been this year.

I’m not actually mad at the Karns deal at all.  I’ll give Dipoto a pass on this one, considering he got Karns by trading away a lot of our garbage from the previous regime (Brad Miller, LoMo, and Danny Farquhar).  Karns still has upside, and/or could be trade bait for someone better in the short term.

That takes us to the bullpen, which was largely overhauled.  A couple of guys haven’t even pitched for us yet, so their injury-plagued seasons are on Dipoto.  Benoit missed a bunch of time, and hasn’t been the lockdown set-up man we all thought he was going to be (he also has a ridiculous salary to boot).  Peralta was a disaster who we kept around for as long as we did due to injuries to other guys.  Cishek has 3 losses and 4 blown saves on his record already.  Nick Vincent has looked okay, but he’s probably not fit for the advanced bullpen role he’s been thrust into.  Am I missing anyone?  I guess Steve Johnson is a thing, and not a very good thing at that.

I dunno.  We’re talking about a lot of guys who are coming off of down years.  The Mariners under Jackie Z were largely predicated on bringing in guys on value deals, who were good TWO years ago, but struggled the year prior, thus why they were so cheap to bring in to begin with.  I hate that line of thinking, even if it’s probably best applied to the bullpen, whose wonky nature will see guys dominate one year, then look like total and complete ass the next year, while largely throwing the same exact stuff (see Benoit, for instance; or see Fernando Rodney in San Diego, who has STILL not given up an earned run, after sucking all ass around town for the Mariners last year).

Are these good Mariners having a bad run, or bad Mariners finally showing their true colors?  I suspect the answer is somewhere in between.  These are the Mariners.  Sometimes they’re going to look like world-beaters, sometimes they’re going to look like the worst team in baseball.  They’re a whole lot closer to being a .500 team than anyone wants to believe, especially considering exactly 3 weeks ago, we were 10 games OVER .500.

I hate sports.

Welp, The Mariners Really Mariners’d Their Way Through That Rangers Series

Did the Mariners climax on the evening of June 2nd, when they made that huge comeback against the Padres to go to 31-22 on the season?  I remember, right around that time, feeling a level of excitement I haven’t felt since 2001 or so.  We were riding high, and we had a stretch of 6 games in 10 days against the Rangers, to see if we could prove that we’re the real thing or not.

In those 6 games, we went 1-5, and for the most part looked pretty bad against the clearly-superior Rangers.  After getting swept on the road half of the 6-game series, there was hope of the Mariners flipping the script on them – and their season as a whole – by doing the opposite at home (particuarly with Adrian Beltre on the shelf).  We got off to a good-enough start by winning on Friday (in spite of our best efforts to blow that game; luckily, the Mariners managed to play add-on in the bottom of the 8th inning to make the Rangers’ would-be game-tying homer in the 9th obsolete).  And, for a while there on Saturday, it looked like that sweep might be within reach!

I was there on Saturday, having come into a suite ticket with all the fixin’s, and it looked like a night for the ages.  James Paxton followed up last Monday’s performance with another gem, going 6.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing 6 hits & 2 walks against 7 strikeouts.  The Mariners scored their lone run in the 5th off the bat of Adam Lind (who failed in his attempt to set the Major League record by being the 5th Mariners player in a row to hit multiple homers in a game), and the bullpen did its job to keep the Rangers scoreless headed into the top of the 9th.

With Beltre out, it was Prince Fielder who picked up ABs this weekend.  Fielder had rightly been benched for being an overpaid tub of goo, but of course, with this being the Mariners, he busted out to completely dominate.  In this case, Steve Cishek decided to go right after him (as you should, because walking a .200 hitter would be a disaster), and Fielder turned it around and knocked it out of the park to tie the game.

The last couple of innings were a blur, but suffice it to say the Mariners’ bats stayed quiet.  The Rangers took the lead in the 11th and that was that.

As for yesterday’s game, what can you say?  Another Wade Miley dud.  And Steve Johnson showed you what he’s capable of doing when you give him lots of opportunities (hint:  he sucks).  The offense didn’t get its shit in gear until the last couple innings, but by that point it was far too late.  I guess the game ended with Cano trying to stretch a single into a double, but if you’re really going to get upset about that – in a series where the Mariners were pretty awful in a lot of different areas – then you do you.

I guess one silver lining is that we don’t have to play the Rangers again for a while.  We went from holding a marginal lead over them, to now being 5 games back.  Maybe by the end of August, we’ll have figured out how to beat them.

We’re now a modest 5 games over .500, and firmly in the Wild Card race, but it’s plain to see the Mariners need some help on the pitching side of things.

How much longer of a leash can we extend Wade Miley?  He’s got 4 quality starts out of 13; that type of production isn’t going to keep us in contention.

Is there any way we can trick some other team into taking Karns off our hands as one of the primary prospects in a Rent-A-Starter deal?  Karns is who he is, and that’s pretty much a Five & Diver who might ultimately be better suited as a reliever.

Considering Felix is looking like he could be out as much as 8 weeks (or until the end of July), the Mariners are probably going to have to make a deal for a starter sooner rather than later.

Also, I can’t be the only one who has no belief in Cishek’s ability to close out an important game.  Not in the way Fernando Rodney would get abused – either via the walk, or the dink n’ dunk variety of hits, before a full-on explosion – but in the way that Cishek is either on fire, or he’s giving up a bomb, and pretty much nothing in between.

Is it just me, or does this season feel like it’s going down the shitter?

The Mariners Broke Their Mini Losing Streak

Of 4 games.  Was damn near 6 games, if we never manufactured the greatest comeback in franchise history last Thursday.

For those of you who don’t mind a little standings-watching in early June, the Mariners have dug themselves quite a hole, as they trail the Rangers by 4 games (for the record, if you DO mind a little standings-watching, go fuck yourselves; seriously, what’s the big fucking deal if I check the standings every now and then?).  Obviously, it’s not the end of the world, and there’s a lot of baseball left to play, but it’s crazy how hot the Rangers have been lately (and ohbytheway, they’re going to be in town for another weekend series starting Friday; WILL THE MARINERS BE SWEPT AGAIN?  Stay tuned).

As the old saying goes, a really long journey starts with a first step!  And that first step for the Mariners was getting off the schneid.  They did it in a somewhat improbable way, in that Wade Miley was at the helm of a solid pitching performance!  Seven innings of 4-hit, shutout ball was just what the doctor ordered, as the Mariners – behind Nelson Cruz’s two homers – chased Cleveland’s starter in the fourth inning.  From there, it was cruise control to the finish and a 7-1 victory.

Aside from the Miley start he so desperately needed to work his way back to respectability, I didn’t find a whole lot about last night’s game very interesting.

Monday’s game, however, is another story.

Granted, Monday’s game was a 3-1 loss for the good guys, as the offense just never could get going.  But, the story here was all about the pitching.

James Paxton took the mound for his second start in the Majors this season.  He didn’t disappoint.  He went 6 innings, holding Cleveland to 5 hits and 1 walk, while giving up 3 runs (1 earned) and striking out a whopping TEN batters.  If Chris Iannetta would’ve come down with the throw at the plate – tagging out the runner who ended up scoring – which by all accounts was right on the money and a catch he should’ve made, odds are that game is a lot different.  At the very least, you can make an argument that Paxton gets a no decision instead of a loss; at best, who knows if he gives up that solo homer the next inning?  Maybe he would’ve gotten a shutout victory!

Nevertheless, Paxton’s performance was absolutely legendary.  It has, quite honestly, forced me to re-think my whole stance on his very existence!  This is a James Paxton the likes of which I’ve never seen before, and I’ve been watching him pitch off and on since 2013!  He’s always been big, and he’s always been a lefty, and when he’s been healthy, he’s been a promising potential piece of some brilliant future Mariners team.  But, of course, he’s never been able to stay healthy – and maybe that’ll continue.  All I know is, while he’s been good, he’s never been anything special.

Paxton has always had an okay fastball.  I couldn’t tell you where he would average in the past, it’s been so long since I’ve seen the Paxton Of Old; but it feels like he was usually somewhere around 93 mph.  That’s an okay fastball.  Not great, not elite, but better than the finesse schlubs like Miley and Joe Saunders and the like.  Paxton’s issue has always been with his control, working those edges of the strike zone, staying away from the middle of the plate.

But, this year?  Shit, he’s topping out at 100 mph!  Where the FUCK did THIS come from?  And, I’m not just talking about him hitting triple digits in the first inning, before getting tired and settling into the 95 mph range.  I mean he’s in there, over 100 pitches, still hitting 100 on the radar gun!  With a nasty slider or curve or whatever to keep hitters off-balance.

I mean, are you JOKING me?  As I said before, now I have to re-think everything!  Going into this year, and even through the first couple months of the season, when Paxton was toiling away in Tacoma, working on his velocity and his command, I had him pegged as prime trade bait.  Should the Mariners be in contention at the trade deadline – which it looks like they will be – James Paxton (packaged with another guy or two, perhaps, from the lower minors) could be flipped for another team’s 2-month rental.  Whatever this year’s version of David Price is, the ace starting pitcher on the last year of his rookie deal, who will be a difference-maker for a quality team in the post-season that needs an extra little push.

But NOW?  After seeing THIS?  I mean, obviously, it’s only two starts (of him throwing 100 mph heat), but if this is the new normal for James Paxton, are we better off keeping him, inserting him into the starting rotation for good, and riding him to post-season glory?

Before, Paxton always projected – at least, in my eyes – as topping out as a quality #2 starter.  But, with this type of stuff, the sky is the limit.  Tall lefty, throwing 100 mph, with a biting slider:  that’s ace material.  That’s Randy Johnson material.  That’s the second coming of The Big Unit, with Mr. Snappy’s command being all the difference between him being a solid mid-rotation pitcher and him being the other ace this team needs (when Felix comes back healthy, of course).

If he keeps this up, this is truly a gift from the gods.  If he works out, first of all, I don’t see how you send him back to Tacoma.  Either you ride with a 6-man rotation, or you make a tough call on Walker or Karns (with the way Walker’s been pitching over the last month, that call might not be so tough if it continues).  But, if this works out, and we get ace production from this unlikeliest of sources, then if we do need to make a deal at the deadline, it won’t necessarily have to be for a starting pitcher!  We can use that to shore up the bullpen, or bolster some of our hitting depth, or fix some other hole that comes up at the time.

Oh yeah, and don’t think I’m sitting here sleeping on Edwin Diaz.

In the very same game where Paxton was as dominant as he was, Edwin Diaz made his Major League debut.  Previously a minor league, AA starting pitcher with issues (mainly that he doesn’t have a quality third pitch to get lefties out on a consistent basis), the Mariners – earlier this very season – converted him to a reliever (because relievers are better able to get away with only having two quality pitches, especially when one of them is the fastball Diaz is sporting).  After making essentially five starts, Diaz had all of 11 appearances where he went 2 innings or less (“relief” appearances, for all intents and purposes).  In those appearances, he pitched a total of 13.2 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned), 7 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 19.

That was, apparently, all that mattered for the Mariners.  To be fair, the M’s have been struggling with that final bullpen spot.  Joel Peralta turned back into a pumpkin, and we’ve seen guys like Mayckol Guaipe, Cody Martin, and Steve Johnson all occupy that spot, with varying results.  While Johnson is still on the roster, he’s not a guy you want to count upon in high-leverage situations.  Tony Zych had a setback recently and doesn’t appear to be close to returning.  So, essentially, the Mariners have been relying on a 5-man bullpen, and those guys were getting seriously over-worked.  If we’re content with Steve Johnson being the last man in the bullpen (to be used during blowouts and as a last resort in extra innings situations), the team desperately needed another quality arm it could mix into the rotation in the 7th and 8th innings.  Enter Edwin Diaz.

Like Paxton, Diaz also hits triple digits on the radar gun (topping out at 101 mph).  Unlike Paxton, Diaz has a lot of run on his fastball, making it remarkably more difficult to hit.  And, for a 22 year old kid making the leap from AA to the Majors, in his first-ever appearance, he had absolutely no trouble whatsoever locating the strike zone (10 of his 11 pitches were strikes).  He ended up striking out 1 batter in his first perfect inning, before returning to the dugout to a standing ovation from the home crowd.  All in all, not a bad start to a career.

As I said before, this could also be a gift from the gods.  I’ve said all along the Mariners needed another top-notch starter; and I think we’ve all been in agreement that the bullpen could use a little life injected into it.  With Diaz, maybe we’ve found that guy (yet again, saving us from later having to trade for that guy).  As Zych and Furbush get healthy, there will be a roster crunch, but that’s a GOOD problem to have.  No one ever complained about having too much quality depth.

The M’s Made The A’s Their B’s

17 hits, 13 runs, and a big early lead led to a cruise control effort out of Iwakuma in yesterday’s 13-3 win.

You can’t talk about yesterday’s game without talking about a certain maligned first baseman.  I can’t stand these exercises, but I’m going to show you two slash lines and you tell me who they belong to:

  • Player A – .216/.246/.319/.565
  • Player B – .242/.270/.400/.670

Give up?  (don’t follow me on Twitter?)  Player A is Adam Lind, at the end of Tuesday’s game; Player B is Adam Lind, at the end of last night’s game.  That’s what going 4 for 4, with 2 homers, a double, 6 RBI, and 3 runs scored looks like.  He went from being more or less a joke, to being a decent contributor in the matter of four at bats.

Would you like to see him walk more?  Of course.  Would you like that slugging to be a bit higher?  Who WOULDN’T want that?  But, if you look at those numbers now, compared to the rest of the lineup – which we should all agree by now, is a very good hitting lineup – he’s not that far off.  He’s lumped right in there with Aoki and Lee and Seager, which isn’t bad company.

Next up, I don’t want to spend a ton of time praising him, because I still think he’s been pretty disappointing this season, but Hisashi Iwakuma did a good job doing his job.  The Mariners were up 7-1 after three innings, and from there it was just a matter of running through the rest of the game without mucking things up too badly.  Iwakuma went 7 innings, and sure, he gave up 3 runs, but he didn’t walk anybody, he was economical with his pitches, and he picked up a bullpen that had been a little over-worked over the last week.  Just going that extra inning, getting through seven, can really make all the difference.

From there, the Benoit Recovery Train muscled through another shutout inning, and Steve Johnson got some work in a low-leverage situation.  I’m particularly interested in how Benoit comes back from his DL stint, especially after that rocky first outing back on the team.  He’s a VERY important part of this bullpen, so it’ll be nice to have him back to his usual dominating self.

The lone bit of bad news was Leonys Martin – superstar from the last week, including Tuesday’s game-winning homer – pulled a hammy in an attempt to steal second base.  Martin is hopeful – with today’s off day – that he’ll only miss a couple/few days.  Obviously, it’s a problem if it continues to nag at him and requires a DL stint.  So soon after Ketel Marte’s injury, when he too was showing a lot of promise at the plate, it’s a little frustrating.  But, you’re never going to make it through the season 100% healthy.  Nevertheless, the guys you hate to lose the most are the guys playing up the middle – catcher, short stop, second base, centerfield.  Our defense takes a hit, and weirdly enough, so does our offense.  Without Marte and Martin, our baserunning is affected, and we haven’t had a defensive centerfielder this good since Guti’s prime.  So, get well soon you kids!

Props to Cruz & Cano for each hitting a homer.  Props to Aoki for two more hits.  Props to Sardinas for two hits in his return to the Bigs (in place of the overmatched Chris Taylor).  Props to Seager as well for two more hits, in his continuing climb out of the cellar.

Well-deserved day off today before a mean stretch of ballgames heading into June.  The Mariners are clinging to that 1.5 game lead over the Rangers – who simply WILL NOT slag off, even though our run differential is crushing theirs!

You want to hear something cool, almost two months into the season?  The Mariners are currently 1 game behind the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League.  How about THAT?  I know it’s too early to scoreboard watch, or to focus in on the standings, but you know what?  That’s all I would do as a kid when I followed sports, and I remember having a MUCH better time of it.  RIDE THOSE HIGHS, BABY!  We’re 28-18, 10 games over .500!

In the immediate future, we’ve got three games at home against the worst team in all of baseball – the Minnesota Twins (which should finally get our home record above .500 for the first time all year) – followed by four more games against the Padres, who are 10 games under .500 as we speak.  You’d REALLY like to see the Mariners pad their record over those next seven games (5-2 or better would be ideal), because then we get to a fun patch.

Once we dispose of those losers, we hit a run where we play those very pesky Texas Rangers six times in ten days.  We’re talking about a REAL opportunity to put some distance between ourselves and our most prominent divisional rival at the moment.  You see, we have these six games, and then we don’t play the Rangers again until the last three days of August (who knows?  By then, the Rangers might not even be in it anymore!).  So, it’s going to be really important to continue padding our lead while we’re playing so well.  Winter is coming The dog days are coming.  And Hell’s coming with them.

Mariners Swept Reds, Maintain First Place

Friday’s game looked like a distressing start to the season.  Iwakuma was once again just okay, in giving up 3 runs over 6 innings.  The Reds were up 3-1 by the time we got to their bullpen, at which point everything changed.

Last year, the Mariners had a pretty awful bullpen.  But, this year’s Reds team might have the worst-ever!  Save the numbers for some Reds blogger, but I’ll say they really saved our bacon on this night.

In the final three innings on Friday, we managed to turn a 3-1 deficit into an 8-3 victory.  Dae-ho Lee was the big hero, with a pinch-hit 2-run single in the 7th to give us the lead; he’d follow that up with a solo homer in the 9th, as a little icing on that cake.  Cruz also had a homer, Seager had a double, and Martin had a nice day where he got on base all four times.

Saturday’s game was a 4-0 victory for Felix Hernandez, but wasn’t nearly as dominating as the score suggests.  Felix once again had awesome stuff, moving all around the plate, and was able to go 6 innings of 4-hit ball, but he did walk 3 batters, and had a couple of scary bases-loaded situations in the 3rd & 5th innings.  Fortunately, Joey Votto has been having just a horrific season, and was the final out both times.

Martin had another fantastic game, with a homer and a couple walks.  But, it was Guti who broke the game wide open with a 3-run blast in the 4th inning.  It was an upper deck shot (official distances vary) and easily the longest home run for the Mariners this season (and likely one of the top 5 in all of baseball).

Sunday’s game, once again, felt like a real cold fish.  I feel bad automatically assuming the worst out of every Wade Miley start, but to his credit he didn’t do a whole lot to elicit any confidence out of me.  In the first inning alone, he gave up three hard hits and hit a batter, en route to putting us in a 3-0 hole.  As is his way, he quickly settled down after that, ending up with a so-so line of 6 innings and 4 earned runs, with 6 strikeouts against 1 walk.

The Mariners managed to chip away against their starter, getting 2 back in the 3rd, and the other 3 in the 5th.  Martin had the series to end all series, finishing the weekend 4 of 5 on Sunday.  He’s lifted his average from .182 on May 2nd, to .252 today.  That’s big.  He’s shown vastly unusual power numbers – compared to the rest of his career – with 8 homers so far, while his career high in ANY season has been 8, (and with 20 homers TOTAL through his career before this season), but if he can get his regular hitting numbers up to snuff, he might be the greatest pickup in an offseason full of tremendous pickups.

Couple other notes from the weekend:

Ketel Marte sprained his thumb from sliding into 2nd base, which is going to cost him a 15-day DL stint.  Chris Taylor was brought up as insurance, with Shawn O’Malley taking over the everyday short stop role until his return.  It doesn’t sound like anything serious, but this team could ill afford to play with a 24-man roster (while Marte heals up), when literally no one else on the team is qualified to play short stop, so they HAD to make the move.

As a quick aside, I wondered what the Mariners might do with Marte out, if O’Malley got hurt and the team never called up anyone to fill in as insurance.  My best guess:  the team would have to make due with Kyle Seager at short stop (I THINK he has some experience, maybe in the low minors, or in his college days), and slide Dae-ho Lee over to third base, where he has experience from playing in Korea.  THAT … would be entertaining for about an inning, and then I think I’d have my fill (sort of like when you have a position player pitch in a blowout game to save your bullpen).

My final note is on that bullpen, specifically the Mariners’.  I don’t know if it was because we were playing in a National League park, or if it was just coincidence, but every starter this weekend went exactly 6 innings, leaving the remaining 3 innings – each game – for the bullpen.  On Friday, we had Montgomery, Vincent, and Peralta each pitch a scoreless inning (Peralta getting those garbage innings, what with his recent struggles).  On Saturday, we had Nuno, Montgomery, and Peralta each pitch a scoreless inning (Montgomery looks like he’s going to take over for Peralta and start getting some of those high-leverage situations, since he’s been so rock solid this year).  On Sunday, we had Vincent, Benoit, and Cishek each pitch a scoreless inning (Vincent appears to be the right-handed option behind Benoit – and sometimes in place of Benoit – since he’s been a monster against right-handed batters).

It’s interesting how quickly things have shaken out in the bullpen.  Peralta’s usage will, hopefully, continue to go down as guys like Vincent, Montgomery, and Nuno continue to show their value.  Steve Johnson – the last man in the ‘pen – appears to be reserved for blowouts and desperate, extra innings-type situations, at least until Furbush comes back, at which point – in spite of there being three lefties in the ‘pen – we will have some semblance of a FULL bullpen.  And, I know we’re a ways off, but when Zych comes back, we might have a difficult decision to make (not so difficult in my eyes – just dump Peralta – but it might be difficult for the team/management).

At least for now, it’s nice to know the team can take a long approach with Zych, making sure he’s at full strength, before thinking about bringing him back up.  Anyway, it might be another 3-4 weeks AT LEAST before a bullpen move is made, for either Furbush or Zych.

Don’t look now, but the Mariners are smack dab in the middle of a stretch of 26 games in 27 days.  They get another home off-day this Thursday, before 17 in a row.  It’s been a remarkably friendly schedule for the Mariners so far this season – with 7 off days through the first 7 weeks (including this Thursday).  While June is a bit of a bear with a 10-game East-Coast road trip, we still have 2 off days there, and another bunch of off-days in July with the All Star Break.  But, if you take a look at late July, all the way through August, the Mariners will play 33 games in 34 days.

So, you know, good to pad our record now, while the going is still good.

The Mariners Got The Blowout Victory They Were Looking For

Come for the dangling prepositions in the title, stay for the analysis of a game I didn’t even watch!

Boy, that was really something, wasn’t it?  Here’s Baltimore – one of the hottest teams in the American League – having feasted on the bottom-feeders in recent weeks, to achieve the best record in the league, hosting Seattle, who just lost three in a row at home to the struggling, infirmed Angels.  Shirley, the Mariners would find it tough sledding in the bandbox that is … whatever they call the Orioles’ stadium (don’t call me surely).

That’s when the 3-4-5 hitters decided to drop the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B all over the place.

  • Cano – 3 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored
  • Cruz – 3 for 3 with a homer, 5 RBI, and 2 runs scored
  • Seager – 2 for 4 with a homer, 3 RBI, and 1 run scored

All 10 runs batted in were batted in by those three players in a 10-0 rout to open up the series.  Wade Miley had a semi-efficient 6 innings of 2-hit ball, Nuno pitched in (!) with a couple of perfect innings, and Steve Johnson got some work in as our last man out of the bullpen (now that Mayckol Guaipe has been returned to Tacoma, with Benoit coming off of the DL).

The Mariners really needed a win, they really needed a soft landing for the bullpen, they needed to give an extra day off to Peralta and Cishek to get their heads clear, and they needed to get the game completed under the shadow of some suspect weather conditions.  It was really the most perfect start to this road trip (where it’ll be a MIRACLE if we get through it without a game being cancelled and needing to be made up during the dog days of the season where the Mariners are short on extra days off).

Also, as I said before, I didn’t watch the game, but my hat’s off to Miley for repeatedly getting through that lineup without getting killed.  I’m not holding out hope that he’s going to be anything more than what we thought he was, but as long as he’s not anything less, I think we can be okay.  A guy like Miley is just what this team needs.  THIS team.  Where the hitting is professional, and runs are scored at a respectable pace.  But, if you put Miley in the rotation in some of those prior Mariners teams – with the likes of Ackley, Smoak, and the rest of those duds – we’d be constantly pulling our hair out whenever Miley took the mound.

Miley needs run support.  Those infantile offenses who struggled to score 3 runs on a nightly basis would NEVER be able to do the job.  Yeah, Miley will eat up innings, and he’ll “keep you in ballgames”, but only if your offense is scoring 4+ runs a night.  Anything less and you might as well roll with me out there on the mound, because I’ll get you pretty close to the number of Quality Starts that Miley will get you on an annual basis (relatively speaking).

Honestly, it always feels good when we make it through a Miley start with a victory, because I know Taijuan Walker is right around the corner.  And then we’ve got an increasingly more interesting Karns, before it’s right back to the top of the rotation with Felix again.  I guess what I’m really trying to say is:

Wade Miley shouldn't be a chore!

Wade Miley shouldn’t be a chore!

Chris Iannetta Is Your Hero Of The Day

Yesterday, I threw up a bonus post on the majesty that is Dae-ho Lee and how he seems to have the perfect sixth sense about knowing when the Mariners need an extra special offensive bump, and then giving them said bump.  Then, later that same afternoon, in pinch hit duty for Lind (who, again, aside from a meaningless single in the bottom of the third, was absolute dogshit at the plate), the Herculean Korean stepped into a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 10th inning with a chance to BLOW my fucking MIND!

Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Was he overpowered by a middling right-handed reliever?  Or, did his clairvoyance show him a different path?

… baseball destroyer

Chris Iannetta, leading off the bottom of the 11th, was your man, busting a home run ball out to right center.  Considering the circumstances, I’m sure the Rays wanted this one as badly as can be, to avoid the sweep, to right the ship, to prove that their hard work in even getting to that point wasn’t in vain.  I’ll admit, I’m as high as can be on the Mariners so far in 2016, but the way things were going, I didn’t think we had a chance in Hell of winning that game.  Kudos to Iannetta, as he rightly deserves being singled out.

I think the real story, though, is what the bullpen was able to accomplish.  Steve Cishek was unavailable, as he appeared in 6 games in 9 days between May 2nd and May 10th, including a 2-inning appearance on the 7th, and a 4-out save on the 10th.  Likewise, Joel Peralta has also been seriously over-worked and was also unavailable.  Or, in other words, the Mariners were unable to use their two best relievers in a game that would go 11 innings.

In a game where Taijuan Walker was CRUISING through five, before totally falling apart in the sixth, walking three batters, giving up a grand slam to fully gag away our 4-0 lead, and ultimately being unable to get out of the inning.  The likes of Mike Montgomery (2.1), Nick Vincent (1), Vidal Nuno (0.1), and Steve Johnson (1.2) had to go the final 5.1 innings while only giving up a single run.  Granted, it was Nick Vincent giving up the solo homer in the 9th to blow the save opportunity, but all things considered, this game could’ve gone sideways nine ways from Sunday, and yet the guys were able to hold the fort until the cavalry came riding in.

Particular propers go to Steve Johnson, who got the first win of his Major League Seattle Mariners career by polishing off the final five outs of the game.  At no point whatsoever was it pretty; at one point in the 10th, with two of Nuno’s runners on base, Johnson walked the bases loaded and it looked like he couldn’t get his pitches to do ANYTHING that he wanted.  But, he forced a foul out to third before getting a groundout to short to keep it tied.  Then, again in the 11th, he let two runners on and the Mariners had Mayckol Guaipe (the final available reliever) warming up in the ‘pen.  If Johnson didn’t do what he did – which was induce the last two batters to fly out – Guaipe would’ve come in and finished the job by, I’m sure, letting the Rays score four runs to put the game out of reach.

I’ve seen parts of two seasons now out of Mayckol Guaipe and I’ve yet to see ANYTHING out of this guy.  Whatever he’s got in AAA does not translate to the Majors whatsoever.  Not that I’m any more confident in Steve Johnson’s abilities – he of the 89mph fastball and the 63mph curveball and THAT’S IT – but I will say that Guaipe needs to be the first guy sent down to Tacoma when Benoit returns.  Guaipe has 25 career Major League appearances, and he’s been scored upon in a whopping 15 of them!  That’s not even counting however many inherited runners he’s allowed to score!  Guaipe is a fucking loser, and that’s all there needs to be said about that.

Steve Johnson might also be a fucking loser, but yesterday he was a winner, and in his career that’s infinity more wins than Guaipe has.

Getting away from that unpleasantness, I will say that today’s off-day couldn’t come soon enough.  With the bullpen as taxed as it is, giving everyone a day to rest will replenish everything for an important series against the Angels this weekend.  Practically everyone is injured in Anaheim, which means we’re catching them at the right time, which means we need to continue their downward spiral and maintain our momentum.

Also, not for nothing, but Chris Archer is yet another Ace that the Mariners have toppled this year.  Five innings, four earned runs, and damn near took him down in the bottom of the first, with three of those runs.  This offense might not be perfect, but it’s light years from where the Mariners were even last year, where they were dominated by elite pitchers on the reg.