Last year, the Seattle Mariners won 87 games. By pythagorean record, they should probably have won more – Baseball-Reference has them as more of a 91-win team. They were probably the best team in baseball not to make the postseason. The 2014 M’s got off to a 7-11 start through their first eighteen games.
Fast forward one year to the present, and the Mariners are again 7-11 through their first eighteen games. Remember how good last year’s team was, after starting exactly this poorly? Remember that this team is supposed to be as good as that team, if not a little better. Now, knowing that, you can freak out if you want to. But you probably shouldn’t.
Playing at home against the truly crappy Minnesota Twins, the Mariners treated their fans to a delightful Felix Hernandez start before dropping the next two games of the series. That included James Paxton‘s strikeouts-and-walks-fest last night and Roenis Elias‘s 2015 debut today. They’re right back where they were at this point in 2014, except fans are disappointed because this time there were expectations involved.
Are you desperate for a warning sign that this isn’t the same team as last year, and is, in fact, the dreaded “same ol’ Mariners?” The M’s have a -22 run differential right now, worst in the AL. There’s no shiny pythagorean record to fall back on right now. The naysayers have a good point.
First, the positives. Felix! Felix threw his best outing of the season. Felix leads all AL pitchers in WAR, and is currently on pace for career-bests in ERA, FIP, strikeout rate, walk rate, and… everything, really. The King, amazingly, is improving, again, as usual. He’s the best ever.
Elias had a nice outing today, going 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and three walks. He allowed six hits and two earned runs. Paxton struck out seven in 4.1, but was shaky other than that. Counts as a positive since at least more of the runs he allowed were unearned. Carson Smith still seems like one of the best young relievers in the game. Some good pitching in this series, to be sure.
Power! Seth Smith hit his first home run of the season today, and Austin Jackson went yard yesterday. Logan Morrison finally got one past the track on Friday, and Nelson Cruz sent one 459 feet. The M’s have some good, strong hitters. We knew that, and now we still know.
Apr 26, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitter Seth Smith (7) rounds the bases after hitting solo home run in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
The negatives? Winning one out of three against Minnesota, for starters. The bullpen was very well-rested and still played a critical role in the undoing of this series, as bad outings from Dominic Leone and Yoervis Medina played a huge role in yesterday’s loss. This team is ironing out it’s issues, but some slower than others.
Then there was today’s bullpen culprit, young lefty Tyler Olson. Olson allowed two runs on two walks and a game-winning triple without recording a strikeout. He’s had trouble with free passes all season, and now has the 5.00 ERA to show for it.
Look, Olson is a good pitcher. We’ve seen flashes of it this year, and I’m not even talking only about spring training. But it’s time for him to go away for a little while. He could use some AAA exposure, and soon. Lucas Luetge was sent down today to make room for Roenis Elias, meaning he can’t be recalled from the minors for ten days. When those ten days are up, Olson is probably going down. Or maybe he’ll be in Tacoma even sooner. Seems like time to see what Jesus Montero can do in the majors, no?
The M’s lost to the bad Twins, just as they lost to the bad Astros. Next up they’ll face the bad Rangers in Arlington, with Taijuan Walker, J.A. Happ, and King Felix getting starts. Time for an upswing. It’s been time for an upswing.
More from Emerald City Swagger
- Seattle Seahawks: To rest or not to rest, that is the question
- Washington State Football: What you need to know for 2018 Alamo Bowl
- Washington Basketball: 3 takeaways from Huskies win over Sacramento St.
- Seattle Seahawks: 12s still waiting to exhale
- Seattle Seahawks: 4 Takeaways from 26-23 Loss to the 49ers