The next three days are critical for the Mariners
By Ty Gonzalez
The August waiver deadline is Friday and the Mariners have yet to make any moves. Their roster is solid enough to stay in contention for the final wild card, but it may not be good enough to get the job done.
The A’s have lost two starting pitchers – Sean Manaea and Brett Anderson – over the last three days. They’re limping and could finally hit a lull. But the Mariners are limping as well, with news coming in yesterday that Juan Nicasio will not return this season and Marco Gonzales is joining James Paxton on the disabled list.
Both teams are breaking down, but the A’s still seem to be better suited to make the playoffs. Of course, their four-and-a-half game lead over the Mariners helps, but they’ve seemingly been able to manufacture solid starting pitching out of nowhere all season long.
The Mariners don’t have much depth in their rotation, leaning on the likes of Roenis Elias and Ross Detwiler recently.
Gonzales and Paxton have predominantly been the Mariners’ two best starters this year, with Mike Leake and Wade LeBlanc putting in solid contributions on a nearly consistent basis. Now, only Leake and LeBlanc stand, which has forced the ever inconsistent Erasmo Ramirez and Felix Hernandez into being the crutches of the rotation.
Ramirez has been nothing short of fantastic since his return from the disabled list, only allowing two runs over his first three starts. Felix, after his extremely short stint in the bullpen, has been passable.
Considering the recent history of both pitchers, though, this kind of success is unreliable. With a gaping hole at the fifth spot for the foreseeable future, another starting pitcher is needed to maintain the Mariners’ position in the playoff race and help elevate them through the month of September.
There aren’t a lot of options, and with how limited information comes in about which players have cleared waivers and which players haven’t, it’s hard to even figure out what those options are.
One name that we know of is Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, who cleared revocable waivers and is now receiving strong trade interest from multiple teams. It would seem more likely than not that the Mariners are one of the teams involved.
Now, Gonzalez has been horrendous since the All-Star break, posting an ERA of 6.00 over 39 innings. However, he’s consistently been a 3+ fWAR player since 2010 and has experience pitching in high-leverage games.
With seven games remaining against the A’s, three against the Yankees, and three against the Astros, the Mariners could use someone with the experience of Gonzalez. For how good he has been in the past, it’s likely that his recent struggles are no more than a hiccup and he could be a key contributor over the final 30 days of the season.
Gonzalez is a rental, but with the extremely limited starting pitching market at this time of year, he could command a decent return for the Nationals.
Other areas the Mariners may take interest in on the trade market are relief pitching and utility infield. After the Nicasio news and the struggling James Pazos’ recent demotion to Triple-A, the Mariners could look to beef up their bullpen from the outside as the rosters expand to 40.
Of course, the Mariners will be receiving reinforcements from within, including Pazos. Joining him should be Nick Rumbelow, Matt Festa, Ryan Cook, Chasen Bradford, and Casey Lawrence.
If the opportunity presents itself, however, I would not be surprised to see the Mariners acquire a reliever or two as insurance.
Another Nationals pitcher, Ryan Madson, could be an option for the Mariners if they do in fact look to solidify their bullpen.
Additionally, we here at Sodo Mojo believe the Mariners need to add depth to their bench, in case you haven’t noticed from the copious amounts of negative think-pieces focused on Andrew Romine.
Recently, I mentioned Starlin Castro as an option and still stand by that thought. The Mariners could also look at the recently waived Josh Harrison, whom we targeted for the M’s in our Trade-a-Day series.
The M’s could also potentially add another outfielder, as crazy as that may sound. While I don’t believe they have any interest in someone like Andrew McCutchen, who should play every day, I could see them showing interest in a role player like Curtis Granderson.
While Jerry Dipoto will be busy working the phones up to Friday, the Mariners will need to take care of business on the field in the meantime.
Tonight, they enter a two-game series against the lowly Padres while the A’s square off with the rehabilitated Astros in Houston. With a crucial four-game series against the A’s coming up, the Mariners have a great opportunity to step into Oakland just two-and-a-half games back.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this may be the most important week of the season for the Mariners. Not only do they have the opportunity to add talent to their roster, but they can gain significant ground going into a series with the team they’re chasing.
Here’s to hoping they successfully accomplish both. If not, it’s Peoria dreamin’ once again.