What should the Seattle Mariners do with Justus Sheffield & Marco Gonzales?
Of all the positive things that have come from the 2021 Seattle Mariners’ season, one constant negative has been the porous performances from starting pitchers Justus Sheffield and Marco Gonzales.
The duo was expected to be the best starters for the Mariners this season, but instead, they’ve been pitching the team out of ballgames.
Justus Sheffield and Marco Gonzales have shocked many Seattle Mariners fans with their 2021 struggles
Justus Sheffield has made it through the six innings just three times in his 14 starts and hasn’t gone seven innings in any start. In his last four starts, he has posted an abhorrent 9.47 ERA, walking nine and striking out 15 while also giving up six home runs. Right now, Sheffield isn’t giving the Seattle Mariners a chance to win and he’s at a WAR of 0.0 and a FIP of 5.42.
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Marco Gonzales, the incumbent Seattle Mariners ace has been even more disappointing. While Gonzales has had some injury problems, he has been the team’s worst pitcher based on fWAR, at -0.2. And for Marco, the issue is how he’s struggling. Control has always been his strong suit, but he’s already walked 20 batters in 51 innings, after issuing just seven free passes in 69.2 innings a year ago. Back in 2018, he walked just 32 hitters in 166.2 innings.
And when Marco Gonzales is hitting the zone, he’s getting hammered. His barrel percentage is 17.4 percent, and he’s given up 13 long balls, which is on pace to be his worst mark by far as a pro.
So what’s the solution? Well, it’s tough to say. With Gonzales, the hope is that he can work out of his issues and return to the effective version of himself. It’s entirely possible that Gonzales is pitching through injury which could explain the uncharacteristic struggles. The Seattle Mariners pretty much have to ride out with Gonzales and assume that he will find his form again.
But for Justus Sheffield? There’s a lot more uncertainty. Prior to last season, he hadn’t exactly proven himself as an effective starting pitcher. While he was great last year, Sheffield’s prior 11 appearances didn’t show a whole lot of positives. He’s just 25 years old, so it’s not like he can’t still get better.
But right now, the Seattle Mariners can’t continue to run him out there with the hope that something magically changes. Whether the issues are mechanical or mental, he needs a fix and with two MILB options remaining, it may not be the worst idea to give him a breather in Tacoma and let him work some with a highly regarded pitching coach Rob Marcello Jr.