A weak offense has been the Mariners calling card for a while now. Whether it’s just below average or historically terrible, pitchers have loved padding their stats against them. While still not striking fear into the hearts of those taking the mound, they have been respectable this year.
A low team average still burdens the team but runs have found a way to cross the plate. Sometimes it’s just a matter of everyone clicking at the same time which is something they have been able to do this year. But that surely is not the only cause for this jump in success.
The Mariners are eight games over .500 right now. Read that again and try not to smile. Being in third place in what I consider the strongest division in baseball at the moment is something to be excited about. It’s been too much fun to see how the other half, the winning half, of baseball has been living.
Pitching has had to be the “strong” suit of the Mariners as they always had such a difficult time bringing in hitters before this offseason. In terms of WAR, the starting pitching is about on par with their ranking in the AL from last year. The bullpen has made a significant jump though.
The bullpen being able to protect leads, large and small, has been huge for the Mariners. How many times in the past few years have the fans seen Felix Hernandez, or any pitcher for that matter, leave the game with a lead only to be rewarded for their efforts with a no decision. All too often is the answer.
It might be unfair to entirely blame the bullpen in such situations as the offense, as I already mentioned, hadn’t been providing much support. Regardless, blowing leads late in games is a killer to winning percentage and overall morale.
But that hasn’t been the case so much this year. I will admit that I didn’t want the Mariners to sign Fernando Rodney. A high priced closer was not something I was excited about. But he has performed alongside Yoervis Medina, Joe Beimel, and Dominic Leone.
Having several arms you can count on is a luxury the Mariners are taking advantage of and they are building even more depth. They have Todd Coffey in the minors and Brandon Maurer pitching well out of the pen improving depth.
Having this sort of bullpen depth is something a lot of teams wish they could get their hands on. They can be used as trade chips as we near the trade deadline. Now that they have a good bullpen they can give some of it up for a better offense.