Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Despite just four games under their belt the Mariners have shown they are here to play. With the offseason moves indicating that the Mariners were trying to leave behind the rebuilding stage and start competing in a difficult division they started their season off right with a sweep of the Angels. It is quite premature assume that they are now a playoff team but there is nothing wrong with enjoying what we saw so far. And just what did we see?
Yes, we saw the team do well offensively against the Angels, even against a lefty which was a concern going into opening day. The team’s lineup is lefty heavy but they were able to hold their own against CJ Wilson, a lefty pitcher that has had success against the Mariners. They were able to tag him for 6 runs and chased him out in the 6th.
While it’s great to see the offense starting out with a bang, I believe the pitching was even more impressive. There were questions about how the rotation would do with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker starting out on the DL. The team had to add Chris Young at the end of spring training and rookie Roenis Elias jumped AAA to fill out the bottom of the rotation.
This should drive Young and Elias into competition to hold their spot. While Young has still yet to pitch due to last night’s game being postponed, Elias was able to hold his own against the Oakland A’s. Right now the starts they are being given should be seen as a tryout. They are trying to prove that they deserve to stay in the rotation.
Whenever Iwakuma returns, a spot in the rotation will be his. It may take more time for Walker as they want to be careful with their prized prospect. Felix will remain in the rotation (did I really need to say it?), Erasmo Ramirez has proven before that he is starting material, and James Paxton looks to have picked up where he left off with his cameo last season.
This leaves Elias and Young. Paxton and Ramirez might struggle which could lead to them being replaced but I think they are working with less scrutiny. Paxton has been a top prospect with the team for several years and will be given every chance to maintain his spot and Ramirez has always been considered for a spot but has either been needed for the bullpen or lacked consistency.
Even though I believe Ramirez and Paxton will be given more chances, the others should recognize that in this business a lack of success will not be tolerated. I can see the pitchers not only competing against the batters they face but each other which should give us some great baseball.