On April 9th, the Seattle Mariners suffered one of the most painful losses in franchise history, blowing a six-run lead in the 9th inning to the Los Angeles Angels. The loss dropped Seattle’s record to 1-6, and now the team comes to Seattle with Mariners fans seemingly ready to jump ship.
It is hard to blame these fans. Losing a six-run lead in one inning is a gut punch. The offense has simply failed to produce runs. Entering Sunday, they were slashing .172/.253/.249 and ranked dead last in the American League in runs scored.
While the team has not played good baseball, there are still some promising signs that the team can turn things around. Here are some reasons for Mariners fans to remain optimistic.
Starting Pitching Has Been Good
The Mariners starters have not been dominate, with the exception of James Paxton’s start against the Astros. Felix Hernandez velocity is up.
His fastball command still needs refinement, but the off-speed stuff is excellent. If “The King” can refine his fastball command, he should return as a solid #2 pitcher.
Hisashi Iwakuma followed a somewhat surprising six inning, two runs performance against the Astros, with another six-inning performance today.
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He allowed just one run, despite a fastball that sat at 85 MPH. Kuma command has been very good and has not left many pitches in the heart of the zone.
James Paxton looked like a true ace in his first start and now gets to see the Astros for the second time in five days.
Ariel Miranda battled his way through five innings and is an average breaking pitch away from being a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm. Even Yovani Gallardo flashed a good curveball and surprising velocity on his fastball.
The Bullpen Has Been Solid, Except For Sunday.
James Pazos and Dan Altavilla have been nothing short of electric. Coming into Sunday, Edwin Diaz was good and Mark Rzepczynski has been as advertised. Aside from Casey Fein and Evan Scribner, the bullpen has been good. The bullpen could get even better in the coming weeks.
Tony Zych appears ready to return to the big club during the next homestand and Steve Cishek could return by the end of April.
The Defense Is Noticeably Better
There is no denying that the defense is better. The pitching has allowed 22 runs thus far but 13 runs have come off the home run. The outfield defense might be the best in Mariners history, and all four outfielders can throw well above average.
The infield defense has been good overall, and Danny Valencia is already showing substantial improvement to the first base defense compared to the 2016 club. Kyle Seager already has three errors, the range of the entire defense is impressive. Even the catchers have thrown out 50% of would-be base-stealers
Kyle Seager already has three errors but the range of the entire defense is impressive. Even the catchers have thrown out 50% of would-be base-stealers
The Speed Has Already Made A Difference
The Seattle Mariners lead the AL in stolen bases. They have been caught just one time. Jarrod Dyson already has a bunt single, and the presence of