The Seattle Mariners are on their way out of Houston with their tails between their legs after suffering through a brutal four-game sweep. Do you want to forget this series? I want to forget this series. But we should resist the temptation to blank this one out. Like it or not, we may have learned a lot here.
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The Houston Astros have now won ten in a row, and hey, maybe they’re good. Sure would explain why they’re playing so good, anyways. They’ve got a seven game lead over the second place Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who, by the way, are three games under .500. Which puts them one game ahead of the fourth place Mariners. All of which says quite a bit about the AL West.
What this says is that the division isn’t what we thought it’d be. The assumption based off what we knew going into the season is that Anaheim, Seattle, and probably Oakland were going to duke it out for first place (and maybe a wild card or two) while Texas and Houston had a heated race for fourth. It’s now pretty obvious that Houston is better than expected, while the SEA/OAK/LAA triumvirate is perhaps worse than it seemed.
If the second-place team in the West is a game ahead of Seattle and three games under .500, then it’s not as big of a deal that the Mariners are where they are right now. But then there’s Houston. If they’re even half this good – which seems likely, as explained yesterday – then yeah, the eight games between the M’s and first is really significant. Look at FanGraphs playoff odds. The M’s are less likely to make the postseason than Houston! That’s almost unbelievable!
This series taught us that the bullpen’s woes aren’t going to be an easy fix. Who on this team has been dialed all year? Carson Smith and nobody else – or at least that was the answer until today, when he (finally) allowed a run in the big leagues. Fernando Rodney‘s been on lately, but don’t forget his early skid. That skid was awful, and it didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.
Danny Farquhar and Charlie Furbush have had their struggles, and Dominic Leone‘s rough March has rolled over into April/May. Tyler Olson isn’t ready for the major leagues, and Lucas Luetge probably shouldn’t be the one to replace him. This is roughly the same bullpen from last year, but it was never going to be the same. That was an anomaly. What we’re seeing right now might be closer the group’s true talent level – as much as it hurts to admit.
When Hisashi Iwakuma comes back it’s likely going to be Taijuan Walker – and not Roenis Elias – who loses his spot in the rotation. Walker’s start was the worst of the bunch this series, and really he just hasn’t made the leap to the bigs yet. I mean sure, he’s here, physically, but he’s still not doing what he needs to do with his pitches. There’s something mental going on here, and it’s probably the kind of issue best worked out in the minors.
Want positives? Nelson Cruz is totally out of his mind. Seth Smith is awesome. Logan Morrison is coming around, and boy is it fun to watch. Told ya the hits would start to drop! Some nice hitting up and down the lineup this series – lots of bombs. Houston’s like that.
Another positive is that Chris Taylor is playing well in Tacoma, but that wouldn’t be such a huge positive if it weren’t for Brad Miller‘s troubles throwing to first. Miller, of course, is a shortstop. Shortstops shouldn’t have trouble throwing to first, which is usually no more than ~100 feet away. Throwing to first is a third baseman problem. Above average defensive shortstops shouldn’t have this issue.
But Miller’s got a bit of a history with errors – remember his time in Tacoma before being called up? He’s got range, he’s got hands, he’s got instincts… he just mangles a lot of easy plays. That’s long been his biggest wart defensively, but now it’s getting to be too much. He’s been an offensive bright spot for much of the year, but is putting himself at risk based on stupid, mindless errors in the field.
The 2015 Seattle Mariners are Brad Miller. They’re hitting the ball well – that’s a big thing! But the little things count too, and they’re doing those things wrong. As a result, they’re losing more often than not. Also they’ve been pitching poorly. Brad Miller would pitch poorly, I presume, were he ever to pitch.
A frustrating series, to be sure, but one that had lots of takeaways. At the end of the day the biggest takeaway is this: the Mariners lost four of four to the Astros and everything sucks. This totally sucks. The Astros are unbearable. I hope they lose fifty straight. Jerks.