Mariners sitting in hot water after up and down April

Apr 30, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais (9) makes a call to the bullpen in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais (9) makes a call to the bullpen in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

After one month of play, the Seattle Mariners are sitting at 11-15. That’s good for last in the AL West, and they still haven’t seemed to figure out where they are as a team. They string together a few good games, but then have an even worse stretch and seem to be the worst team in the league.

The season started off rockier than rocky, with Seattle going 2-8 over the first 10. While the pitching was serviceable, the offense was woefully horrible. Robinson Cano was bad, Nelson Cruz was worse, and Haniger hadn’t found his stride. Then, something clicked during the Texas series, and the Mariners started to see runners cross the plate. They now have scored the seventh-most runs in the league this season.

Yet somehow, even with all this scoring, they are on of the worst teams in the league. This lies in the bullpen, and now the numbers one, four, and five starters. With a team ERA of 4.71, they’re the second-worst in the league. Unless the Mariners fix their pitching, they will be completely out of contention by the All Star Break.

So, in this piece, we’ll look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of this month. We’ll see if someway, we can find some hope for this 2017 Mariners team.

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The worst of the worst

This is pretty obvious. I’m going to address it anyway though for the sake of this article. On April 9, the Mariners were 1-5. After losing three of four in Houston to start the season, they’d dropped back to back games in Los Angeles and were pretty close to rock bottom. That was until Sunday’s game. They rocketed out to 8-1 lead on five Cano RBIs. The M’s were rolling. The Mariners entered the bottom of the ninth leading 9-3, and that’s when everything that was good and right with Seattle went wrong.

Casey Fien came into pitch for the M’s.

This move was Scott Servais’s first mistake. He should’ve pitched Diaz. The Mariners badly needed a win, and Diaz would’ve gotten it. He pitched Fien though, and that shouldn’t have mattered much considering they had a six run lead. A leadoff homer to Pujols, followed by a walk, a single, and a walk, and just like that the bases were loaded.

Then Servais brought in Diaz.

Wrong again.

Don’t bring Diaz in in a mop-up role. That’s not his place. Bases loaded, with no outs is not Diaz’s place. I commend him for pulling the two outs, but he couldn’t be expected to hold that. The Angels had too much momentum. It was going to come crashing down

The red-hot train the Mariners had been riding all game Sunday suddenly saw the wheels fall off, then the whole thing break apart and explode into a million tiny pieces with Pennington knocked in the winning run to send the M’s to 1-6.

No point this season has been worse than that.

Frankly I don’t think it’s possible to get worse than that. That is the gut punch to end all gut punches. Yet somehow here the Mariners are, just four games south of .500, with a big homestead coming up. How? Well, there’s been some good.

The best of the best

James Paxton.

Hands down.

I mean sure sweeping the Rangers at home was pretty good, the bats coming to life across the last ten games was great, and taking the back two of the Tigers series after getting pounded was nice too. That said, James Alston Paxton has been a wizard for the Mariners.

Aside from one not great start, “Big Maple” has been outstanding. 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, his 23 inning scoreless streak alone was maybe the highlight of April. With a WHIP of 0.835, he’s keeping runners off the basepaths, thus keeping runs off the board.

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If Paxton can pitch like he has through the Month of April for the whole season, he’ll likely win the Cy Young, and could be the lynchpin in a Mariner playoff run.

What’s next?

Currently, the Mariners are trailing the flaming-hot Astros by 5.5 games and need to really pick things up in May. The good news for the Mariners now: they don’t have to face Dallas Keuchel and his Astros this month, and the month’s first 16 games are against teams that are a combined 59-67. If the Mariners can start this month well, they’ll have some momentum rolling for when they get to the end of the month and face the Nationals and Boston.

So here’s to hoping the Mariners can put it together this month and claw their way back into the playoff race.