The Seattle Mariners, for all intents and purposes, have collapsed. Yes, the team is still 16 games above .500. Yes, they still have an outside shot at making the playoffs. Fivethirtyeight still gives them a 4% chance to make the playoffs. The wins the team piled up early on in the year hides what has happened the last two months. The Seattle Mariners have collapsed.
Seattle Mariners Have Collapsed
The High Point in the Season
Let’s go back in time two months. It’s July 5th, the Mariners are 24 games over .500 at 56-32. They sit 1.5 games back of the Houston Astros, and 7.5 ahead of the Oakland Athletics in the wild card. Fangraphs gives them an 88.3% chance to make the playoffs. Although not ideal, the Mariners are still +24 in run differential. Things are looking good, and the Mariners are on a path to break the longest playoff drought in sports. Seattle is coming off of a June where they went 19 and 9. They find themselves only 1.5 games back of the Houston Astros for the division lead.
The Downhill Slide Starts
Since that date, the Mariners are 8 games under .500 (21-29). Their run differential has changed drastically. They are now -48, meaning they are -72 in the last 50 games. The Mariners starters have an ERA of 5.36. Up until the 5th, they were at 3.93. The Offense isn’t doing any better. Mariner’s hitters find themselves slashing .247/.300/.386 in that time frame. Before that date, they were .260/.322/.422. The only constant has been Edwin Diaz, with a 1.90 ERA and leading the majors with 52 (and counting) saves.
Reasons for the Slide
The reasons for the offensive slide are a little tough to see at first. Mitch Haniger came down a little bit from his All-star level. Dee Gordon struggled to get on base, leading the others behind him trying to do too much. Jean Segura had a terrible 30 days, batting .223 from July 5th to August 6th. Mike Zunino is still struggling, hitting .190 on the year, and .193 over the two month stretch. For an offense that was barely squeaking out wins, the drop off across the board has been an issue.
If the Pitching staff had been performing the same, the team would easily be doing better. Felix Hernandez is a borderline number five starter now, and would be in the bullpen with a healthy rotation. Marco Gonzalez has blown past his most innings of 122, and is sitting at 145.2, while on the disabled list. He’s currently there with a neck issue, although it isn’t known if it is actually from watching all the hit balls fly past him.
James Paxton is also at his most innings pitches, sitting at 144.1, and will pass Gonzalez with his next start. Wade LeBlanc has thrown over 100 innings for the first time since 2010, and the second most of his career. He will likely break his record as well, as he is only 10.1 innings behind. The only proven horse on the team is Mike Leake. He leads the team in innings at 165.0, with a slightly disappointing 4.25 ERA. He’s right in line with league average, as the AL average is 4.26.
The Last Word
For a team that has struggled for so many years, 2018 looked bright for the first 90 games or so. The drought might be over, and Mariners fans could rejoice. The short lived title of longest playoff drought in the four professional sports would be passed to the Cleveland Browns. Finding themselves 5.5 games out from Oakland, with 24 left, things are looking down. Unless the 1995 Mariners walk through the door, you might as well make it official. The Seattle Mariners have collapsed.
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