Photo Courtesy Jennifer Buchanon-USA Today Sports
By Braught / PNW Sports Fans
Today I received a text from a friend saying “I know it’s early but you can’t have downward spirals like this.” He was referring to the Mariners and their current 4 game losing streak. (Which will be snapped tonight as Cruz has just homered again.) I had to set him straight.
Normally I am a pessimistic Mariner fan. I’ve been through it all and been disappointed by almost all of it, holding onto only the small things, like Guti being resurrected last year. But this team has me optimistic. They have their warts and may not be as good as their May had us believing but here’s why I am optimistic as of June 7th.
The Mariner’s, losers of 8 of the last 11 games, have been operating without their starting SS, starting CF and their ace has missed his last two starts. Getting swept by the lowly Twins at home, with Felix and Taijuan pitching, is still unacceptable but the rest of the losses are unfortunate. Marte has been a solid SS for the M’s and on pace for a WAR over 3. Martin started the year off cold from the plate; he showed his power but wasn’t getting hits. Right when he was turning the corner and putting it all together he got hurt. Despite that cold start he is still batting. 262 with and OPS of 127. With Martin missing, we’ve had to see Aoki in CF. That isn’t a pretty site if your team is expected to make the playoffs.
Both of these guys will be back soon, Marte currently with the M’s and Martin playing in Tacoma come Thursday. Now Felix, hasn’t been his normal self, fastball is a couple MPH down, command isn’t always there but he is still the King. It appears he will miss more than the 2 or 3 starts we all hoped when it was announced. That gives us a chance to talk about our 6th starter, Paxton.
Paxton has shown glimpses of his ceiling but has struggled to maintain any consistency, losing the 5th starter spot to Karns. Paxton, in Tacoma, started really cold and confirmed the decision to send him there; since then he has performed ok. His first start up in the Bigs, was at Petco. A perfect pitcher friendly park to start in. Instead he gave up 6 runs in the first, mostly because of his throwing error and finished with a line of 3.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 7 SO. Compare that to last night and his 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1BB and 10 K’s. He even hit 100 MPH multiple times. Last night is when we were able to see all the parts working together. His 20 or so lbs he lost in the winter, his more ¾ arm slot, his new mix of fastballs, cutters and curves. Now which pitcher we get in the future, who knows. But if it is the latter, we are in for a treat.
Another tidbit to be optimistic about is Diaz, who debuted last night as a reliever, after having only thrown something like 13 innings as a reliever at AA. He also hit 100 MPH multiple times, 10 of his 11 pitches were strikes and his off speed looked good. Don’t want to extrapolate too much out of a debut, i.e Ackley, but DAMN, that’s nice to have.
With injuries to two vital defensive positions and an ace missing, I still can be optimistic. Cruz is crushing everything in his site, Cano is having an All-Star season, Seager again is quietly doing what he is doing, and Seth Smith is the Man. Our pitching has hit a rough patch, but I believe we can pull through it and our bullpen has surprisingly been able t0 hold for the most part, onto the torrid start they had. Again, this team may not be the best team in the AL, but there is plenty to be optimistic about.