As we witnessed in 2014 the Mariners can get guys out at a record setting pace.
It is very safe to say that without the unmatched efforts of the entire pitching staff in 2014 the M’s would not have been in a meaningful game number 162.
As we look ahead to the 2015 season the Mariners will again rely on sound pitching and excellent defense to help pave the way.
With the signing of Nelson Cruz, hopefully the run support will get a little bit better. Protection for Robinson Cano is always a good thing and the Mariners have some other guys in that lineup very capable of improving and helping out.
Kyle Seager is coming off of a career year and with a new contract, I feel like we know what we’re going to get from him.
With all of those things falling into place, I am not too worried about the middle of the lineup.
All of that being said, the Mariners will not have the league leading offense in the American League or probably even in the division.
The great thing about that is they don’t need to.
Pitching and defense will carry the Mariners in 2015, all the offense needs to do is score enough on a consistent basis to win games. That is the championship formula.
In 2014 the Mariners ranked 3rd in fielding percentage, 2nd in ERA, 1st in batting average against, and had the fewest runs allowed in all of baseball.
The offense will be improved enough to bump up the runs scored, they do not have lead the league in runs scored and home runs to win the division and make a playoff run;
Adding Nelson Cruz was not a bank breaker. Locking up Kyle Seager was the most important move the Mariners made in the off-season. Building our immediate as well as long-term future is what Jack Z has done.
The Mariners will win in 2015 and 2016 and 2017…get where this is going?
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Let’s take a look at the pitching staff as it stands right now.
3. James Paxton
5. JA Haap
6. Roenis Elias
7. Erasmo Ramirez (Also Bullpen)
Relief Pitchers (RH)
4. Carson Smith
6. Fernando Rodney (C)
Relief Pitchers (LH)
2. Lucus Luetge
Looking at this staff we can see there are still some decisions to be made. You do not see Joe Beimel(L) here yet as they have not signed him, I think they will.
With the exit of Brandon Maurer, Carson Smith will be a larger part of this bullpen in 2015. Smith showed us a glimpse of his abilities in 2014 with a very small sample size, this kid can bring it. Perhaps the closer of the future.
Obviously the Mariners will not roll with with seven starting pitchers, so some decisions are to be made here as well.
We don’t need to discuss Felix Hernandez, do we?
I don’t think there is any doubt that James Paxton has inserted himself in the top three in the rotation. Perhaps we even see him overtake Iwakuma for the two spot.
A healthy Taijuan Walker should slot into the opening day rotation in 2015.
The most interesting situations will be the back end of the rotation. Roenis Elias and JA Haap are both left-handed, look for one of these guys to start and one to move into the bullpen.
Erasmo Ramirez is another guy we’ve seen spot start and make long relief appearances, I think you will see him in that role again this year.
If everyone stays healthy and productive I love the look of a starting five of Hernandez, Paxton, Iwakuma, Walker, Elias/Haap.
Not much has changed for the Mariners defensively which made just 82 errors in 2014. So you can bank on making plays behind that stellar pitching.
That is the championship formula you can expect from the Mariners in 2015. Average offense, above average defense, and above average pitching. This formula will win.