By Bliadd Drwg
Somehow, the Mariners find themselves in the playoff hunt. Granted, this is more a result of luck than skill, but it is happening so the Mariners need to start thinking about making some sort of a move before the deadline. It won’t be easy because there are only about 8 teams in the majors who are truly out of contention. What the Mariners really need is 2 bats and an arm if they want to have any really serious shot at winning a playoff series. Why two bats and an arm? Well let me tell you.
Pitching – their bullpen has been lights out but bullpens are a fickle thing, especially one that gets used as much as the Mariners have relied on theirs. Hernandez and Iwakuma are a tough 1-2 combination but the rest of the rotation is a mess:
Chris Young is due to turn back into a pumpkin at some point; his numbers are just not sustainable as his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) ERA is 1.74 higher than his actual ERA. He is also sporting a mutantly low BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .219. Let’s put it this way, the MLB average BABIP is .298. For a pitcher who does not strike out that many hitters to have a .219 BABIP means that he is incredibly lucky. At some point those outs will become hits and that will be the end of Chris Young as a viable starter.
Roenis Elias has been figured out by the league. After a decent April, he basically is sporting an ERA pushing 5 since then, and with the diminished offense in the league, that is not acceptable anymore. They will keep trucking him out there, but that is eventually going to have to change.
The #5 starter is a real problem right now. Ramirez is terrible as a stopgap, Maurer showed he can’t handle it, Walker can’t seem to throw strikes, is back in Tacoma and is probably still hurt and Paxton can’t stay healthy enough to pitch more than once a month. Just a reminder why TNSTAAPP. Things are so bad that they ended up using Tom Wilhelmsen to start a game.
You don’t need David Price here, although he would not hurt. You really just need a middle of the rotation guy – just like what the Yankees did when they picked up Brandon McCarthy. You don’t want to go into a 7 game series with the prospect of getting only 2 or 3 starts out of Hernandez/Iwakuma. The M’s won’t win in that scenario.
More after the jump…
Hitting – this is actually a much bigger need than the pitching. The Mariners have been remarkably lucky in the runs allowed department, but they have really stepped in it with having a winning record with their offense. Only the Astros have produced fewer runs per game than the Mariners and the team is last in OBP and next to last in SLG. The offense is so bad that of the 85 hitters who qualify for the batting title, the M’s have 3 in the bottom 15 in OPS, including Brad Miller, who is currently the worst regular in the AL in terms of OPS. This doesn’t even account for the regular AB’s that they have been giving Bloomquist and Chavez lately – both sport a sub 650 OPS, or James Jones, who, despite a .279 BA, actually has a lower OPS than Willie Bloomquist.
They have gotten so little production out of their DH and CF spots that they boast a 560 and 602 OPS respectively. They basically need something close to replacement level at DH and CF, making the assumption that they are going to stick with the mess that is Miller/Bloomquist at SS and get no production from their 1Bmen. The really do need a right handed bat, but the team should honestly look at Adam Dunn as a replacement DH.
Dunn, while only batting .227, sports an 808 OPS, higher than anyone on the M’s except for Cano and Seager, has an OPB higher than everyone on the team except Cano and has drawn 25 more walks this year than the M’s team leaders (Cano and Seager). The team would be on the hook for only a couple million owed to Dunn; he is a free agent at the end of the season and can probably be had for a mid-level prospect considering the White Sox are pretty much done. He would probably be worth a couple of wins over the crap they keep putting out at DH currently.
My gut is telling me that the Mariners are going to sit on their hands and do nothing at the deadline to improve this team and then slowly fade out of contention when they can’t score more than 2 or 3 runs a game over the rest of the season.