Mariners Analysis: M’s Pitching Themselves Into Limbo
By Adam Levi
This past week saw the worst simply of pitching from the Mariners starting rotation since September 2014.
Each of the Mariners’ 5 starters have failed to pitch up to expectation lately. From the former Cy Young, Felix Hernandez to the number 5, Nate Karns, and everyone in between. The M’s arms are misfiring allowing more walks, more hits and- most importantly- more runs than they had throughout April. What once looked like arguably the most dominating rotation in the American League, now is the weakest link on the club.
Since May 22nd the Mariners starting pitchers have allowed more than 3+ runs in every game except for two. Before today, the men on the mound had allowed 6+ runs in each of their efforts this week. Just the week before, the starters had allowed 5+ runs in 3 straight games starting with a less than royal outing from the king; he allowed 6 runs- his highest tally since June 1st, 2015. To make matters worse, as we all know, Felix injured himself towards the end of the game. He exited with what has been diagnosed as a strained calf.
The precise Taijuan Walker has become one of the leagues best, and dare I say underrated, pitchers to avoid allowing a walk. Last season he gave up only 40 on the year, and in his first 6 starts of the year he gave up an impressive 3. But he began to unravel on May 11th. Walker matched his season total of free passes on this day in just one game; it was the most bases on balls he had allowed in an outing since September 2nd, 2015. His last trip to the mound was so futile that he recorded the most walks in a game (4) since his start on May 24th. As the number two starter in the rotation, these type of stats just aren’t going to cut it.
Giving up hits doesn’t have to be an issue for a pitcher unless they come in great numbers. Since May 22nd, Wade Miley has allowed 26 hits in just 14.2 innings including 4 homers and 4 XBH. Those hits have brought home 18 runs, 9 alone in his last outing versus the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately this is not an isolated issue. As of June 2nd, Miley has allowed 4+ runs in 7 of his 11 starts, that’s 63% of the time. So with Miley, Hernandez and Walker all playing at unprecedented lows, surly it couldn’t get any worse, but it can.
More from SoDo Mojo
- Baking the Cake: An Adjusted Mariners Offseason Plan
- Taylor Trammell Could Provide Impact to 2023 Mariners
- How the Mariners could swing a trade for Fernando Tatis Jr
- What Jerry Dipoto’s trades, comments mean for remainder of Mariners offseason
- Mariners Select Chris Clarke in Rule 5 Draft
Hisashi Iwakuma has established himself as a solid back-up to The King over the years, boasting respectable 3.29 career ERA. However, this year his ERA has creeped into the 4’s for the first time over this long of a stretch. Much of this has to do with his inability to generate the same type of movement and velocity on his pitches compared to years passed. So players are hitting him like never before. Take last season for example: in his 20 starts, he gave up 3+ runs in 9 games. So far in 2016 he already has given up 3+ runs in 8 games, while starting just 11 times. Most alarming however is how his walk total has ballooned to numbers we haven’t seen from him since 2012. Each of the last two years, Iwakuma only allowed 21 walks. In early June, he has already been responsible for 17.
Nate Karns, one of the newest Mariners, and he has been pleasantly consistent, outside of his implosion on Friday when he gave up a season high 7 ER and 5 BB. Karns was great in May, allowing no more than 3 runs in each of his 6 starts; 2 of those 6 were stellar outings where he surrendered a lone run both times. His last opportunity cannot be ignored, it was one more speed bump from his unsteady April when he allowed 4 runs twice.
Next: M’s Bats Fall Silent in 3-2 Loss
All in all, this season is turning into a pitching nightmare for all parties with no end in sight. If the Mariners hope to challenge the Texas Rangers for the AL West title and the rest of the league for a playoff spot, they will need to get back to pitching form if they want to end their long postseason drought.