SETTING SAIL ON A SEASON TURNAROUND
OFFENSIVE ATTACK HEATS UP
GOOD MIX OF VETS AND ROOKIES
The biggest bat in the Mariners lineup has been the boom stick of DH Nelson Cruz. Turning 37 years old on July 1, the veteran is hitting for a .297/.379/.564 slash line. He leads the club with 14 homers, 45 RBI, and 24 extra-base hits.
Perennial all-star candidate, 34-year old veteran second baseman Robinson Cano, is having another solid season. Cano is hitting .282, and his 29 runs are tied for the Seattle team lead. His 10 homers, 34 RBI, and 20 extra-base hits are all second to Cruz on the Mariners team leader boards.
A trio of rookies are all contributing greatly to an improved Seattle attack. Outfielders Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger (currently on the DL) are each hitting well above the .300 mark. They have combined for 41 runs scored, six home runs, and 32 RBI.
The third of the trio is utility man Taylor Motter. The 27-year old has appeared at both corner outfield spots, and at every position on the infield. He stepped in admirably to start at shortstop for Segura during the former’s two-week DL stint back in April, and is now reprising that role once again.
KING FELIX BEGINS WORKING BACK
On the mound, you would normally expect ‘King Felix’ to lead the Mariners staff. However, Felix Hernandez has been ineffectual this season, and is now on the Disabled List. He is now beginning the process of working back from a bout with bursitis in his pitching shoulder.
Slated to make a rehab appearance tonight at Triple-A Tacoma, Hernandez will be on an innings limit. The Rainier’s manager, former big leaguer Pat Listach, was quoted by T.J. Cotterill of The News Tribune.
ROTATION SLOWED BY INJURIES
Not only has Seattle lost its ace, they have also been without their projected #2 starter, Hisashi Iwakuma, for over a month now. The Japanese import is also battling shoulder woes.
Iwakuma tossed a couple of simulated innings on Saturday, his first time on a mound since his last start back on May 3. The hope is that if his rehab progresses without setbacks, Iwakuma can return to the rotation by the end of June.
In their absence, a pair of 28-year olds have stepped up big in the Seattle rotation. Ariel Miranda has gone 6-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.173 WHIP mark. The righty from Cuba has allowed just 55 hits in his 67.1 innings over a dozen starts with a solid 61/24 K:BB ratio.
James Paxton has been the Mariners best starter when available. He has a 4-0 record with outstanding 1.26 ERA and 0.930 WHIP marks. Paxton has yielded just 29 hits over 43 innings with a 51/11 K:BB ratio.
However, Paxton too has missed time with injuries, which have been a problem throughout his career. After being out for most of May, the lefty returned to the hill last week.
He didn’t miss a beat in completely shutting down a strong Colorado Rockies lineup. Paxton remaining healthy, especially while Hernandez and Iwakuma remain out, will be a key going forward.
BULLPEN HAS MOSTLY BEEN SOLID
In the bullpen, young closer Edwin Diaz was briefly removed from the role recently in order to work on some mechanical issues. Those quickly resolved themselves, and he has returned to closing down games. Diaz has nine Saves, allowing just 15 hits over 22.1 innings with a 29/12 K:BB ratio.
He has been setup by solid work from lefty James Pazos and right-handers Nick Vincent and Tony Zych. The hope is that veteran Steve Cishek, who just returned from his own DL stint, can further lengthen the Seattle bullpen.
John McGrath at The News Tribune quoted Servais on the recent turnaround in the Mariners fortunes.
As the weather finally warms up in the Pacific Northwest, the local ball club is also warming up. If they can just find a way to get and stay healthy, the Mariners may well sail back into contention this season.