A short week with the All-Star game and the surrounding break early in the week. Felix, Cano, Seager, and Rodney all helped the American League beat the National League in the Midsummer Classic and secured home field advantage for the Mariners in this year’s World Series. (If you want to take a brief look at home field advantage, check out my post on the King’s Court)
The Mariners resumed play with a three game series against the Angels. There was a ton of hype surrounding the three game series against the Athletics right before the break but this Angels series was just as important, if not even moreso. The Mariners and Angels needed ten extra innings to settle these three games and, after two walk-off wins, the Angels emerged triumphant. So this marathon of a series and the Athletics series last weekend have shown us that the Mariners can play competitively with the top two team in the division and AL. We’re not at the point where I’d be confident in a one game playoff but we’re close. The trade deadline is July 31, just a week and a half away. Let’s see if Jack Zduriencik has any more magic up his sleeve.
The Mariners head into the All-Star break after taking two of three from the division leading Athletics. This week seemed like a good way to gain some momentum for the second half but a stinker of a series against the Twins put a damper on any hope of a hot streak. In the two series against the White Sox and Twins, the Mariners scored a grand total of 9 runs in 7 games. We owe our two wins to excellent pitching performances by Felix, Iwakuma, and the bullpen. The two wins over the Athletics were pretty decisive. It definitely felt good to get two strong wins against the best team in baseball right before the break..
For this week’s recap, I’m going to go through each position group and give a mid-season report. The stats included will be to-date season performances instead of the normal two-week period.
Early in the week, the Mariners split a four game, home-away series in which the losing team scored only once in each game. We also gave away another gem of a performance from King Felix (7 IP, 10 K, 3 H) on Wednesday. Over the weekend, we took on the Royals, who had recently been on a 12-game winning streak. The Mariners juggernaut swept away that pitiful band of royalty. We’ve firmly entrenched ourselves in the AL Wild Card race and have refused to give up any ground.
Well, we’re now more than a quarter of the way through the season and the Mariners sit just a game under .500. A rough week against the Rays and the Twins pushed the Mariners back in the win column but we’re still on the cusp of greatness.
After a twelve run offensive outburst on Monday, the Mariners didn’t score for 21 straight innings before scoring a single run in the fifth inning on Thursday. Woof.
It’s Opening Day! Spring Training always seems to drag on for a week too long. I guess the promise of real, this-time-it-counts baseball makes everything in March drag on and on. I’m wrapping up my 2014 season preview of the Mariners with a look at the Bullpen. I’ve already covered the infield, the outfield, and the starting rotation. If you haven’t read those yet, take a look to get the full picture of where the Mariners find themselves at the start of this year.
It was a rough year of transition for the bullpen last year. The incumbent closer, Tom Wilhelmsen lost his job after his walk rate spiked to 5 per nine innings and his strikeout rate dropped to just under 7 per nine innings. Overall, the group had the second highest ERA in the majors at 4.58 but their collective FIP was just 3.79. Perhaps it was the relative inexperience of the bullpen that drove their ERA so high when their peripheral stats tell us they should be right around league average. The majority of the ‘pen is returning with a few new faces. Let’s hope that one more year of development from our young pitchers will be supported by these new veterans.