5 Need, 5 Wants Fans Are Looking For From The 2017 Seattle Mariners
The Mariners NEED to find another high-leverage reliever
Edwin Diaz was great last year, although he did look like he ran out of gas in September. The team is hesitant to make Diaz an old school “fireman” type reliever, and seem content on making him the traditional closer.
If this is the case, the team needs another pitcher to fill the “fireman” role. What is the “fireman”? As one might guess, he puts out fires. When the game is on the line in 6th, this is the reliever you bring in to shut down the opponent. He is the closer before the closer.
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It should be Diaz, but the team has been steadfast that he will pitch almost exclusively in the 9th inning. The reliever might already be on the roster. Dan Altavilla, Evan Scribner, and a healthy Steve Cishek all flashed this ability in 2016. Thyago Viera is a flame thrower who will start the year in AA. He could be the guy.
Bottom line is, the team needs to find Edwin Diaz 2.0.
We WANT James Paxton To Become A True Number Two Starter
Call it a number two guy, call it a co-ace, but Paxton has all the tools to be just that. In fact, the underlying numbers suggest he might already be a co-ace.
Paxton ranked 14th in the American League with an 8.7 K/9(100 inning minimum) and his stuff is excellent. He ran into bad luck in 2016, as hitters had .347 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) tied for the highest in the AL. League average is .300
As a result, the solid 3.79 ERA looks even better when you neutralize the luck. His 2.80 FIP (fielding independent pitching) ranked 2nd in the AL and his 3.35 xFIP ranked 4th.
The Mariners NEED to stay healthy
This is obvious but it doesn’t make it less true. The team can survive a short-term injury to one of the starters and in the bullpen. They can even survive if Leonys Martin hits the DL with a bum hamstring.
But the team has almost no MLB ready depth at SS, 3B, 2B, C, and to fill a top-of-the-rotation starter. A serious injury at one of these spots can derail the season quickly.