As July went along, the baseball gods seemed to focus in on the Seattle Mariners. For the first three months of the season, luck went their way. Yes, the team is better than in the past, and good teams usually create luck based on their skill. Whenever you looked at the team, it seemed like the Mariners were on the right side of the coin flip. As the All-Star Game approached, the question became can they keep it up. As we get to August, we are now faced with a new question. What’s wrong with the Seattle Mariners?
The 2018 Seattle Mariners Offense Continues to Struggle
The Pitching Staff
At the beginning of the year, all Mariners fans were hoping for a healthy James Paxton. Up until July 12th, he hadn’t missed a start. Paxton only missed two weeks and has looked good since his return. He has thrown 14 innings and only given up three runs in two starts. This did lead to issues though, as the staff started to be stretched thin. With the rock out of the rotation, players started to struggle. Every team deals with this, and it actually didn’t hurt the Mariners that much. The team ERA was 3.90 the game before Paxton left with an injury. Discounting the spot start by Christian Bergman, the team still had an ERA of 4.03 over Paxton’s time out.
The remaining beginning of year starters pitched well while Paxton was out. During the last four starts for Mike Leake, he has an ERA of 3.24. Marco Gonzalez has been even better, with a 2.73 ERA during his last four starts. Felix Hernandez has done better than most reports state, throwing five or more innings and giving up three or fewer runs in seven of eight starts. His outlier was a bad start, giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings. These still aren’t solid enough explanations to explain what’s wrong with the Mariners.
At the Plate
The real reason for the Mariners struggles since the start of July has been the offense. The Mariners offense was putting up runs at a good rate through June. In runs per game, they put up 4.7 in March/April, 4.1 in May, and 4.5 in June. Then in July, they only scored 3.3 a game! Offense was sparse all month, as there were only five games where the team scored five runs or more. The team was doing more than not scoring, as they weren’t putting it in play either. The Mariners only hit .237 in July, their worst month by 19 points. Their OBP was only .294, their worst by 22 points. Any stat you want to look at, be it the ones mentioned, doubles, or home runs, are the lowest of the year. The only bright spot is strikeouts, their lowest per game average of the year.
Help may be around the corner for the Mariners, as Robinson Cano is due back on August 14th. He may not be the hitter he once was, but he instantly makes the Mariners better. Kyle Seager finally broke his home run drought, with a multi-home run game on August 5th. Nelson Cruz has been struggling to get the ball in play, with only 11 doubles on the year with a high .260’s batting average. Dee Gordon has fallen off as well. He does lead the league in steals but isn’t getting on base enough. There is now talk of dropping him in the lineup, as his OBP is right around .300. With all of the main weapons on the team struggling in different aspects of their own game, the team as a whole has taken a step back on offense.
The Last Word
When it comes to what’s wrong with the Mariners, the blame mostly falls to the offense. Jerry Dipoto didn’t do much at the deadline for them on that side of the ball. He chose to focus on the bullpen, which will be the right call if they make the playoffs. With Cano coming back in one week, help is right around the corner. The other hitters on the team are unquestionably feeling the pressure without him in the lineup. That should go away once Cano comes back. If the Mariners can hold on and stay in the picture while he is out, they will be okay.
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