GM Jerry Dipoto is a king of trades, but has been relatively quiet since December after making some early offseason moves to help improve the Seattle Mariners’ chances in 2018.
Seattle fell short in 2017. Dipoto assembled a deep rotation on paper that crumbled due to injury and ineffectiveness. The Mariners ran with essentially a Triple-A starting staff for much of the year and flirted with .500, eventually ending up six-games under as the season ended.
Health will once again be a key factor for this rotation and this team. The Mariners are underdogs in the AL West, but the offense is there and the bullpen has been beefed up. Now, can the rotation hold it together?
2017 Record: 78-84
2017 Moneyline Record: -11.37 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 76-79-7
Current Odds To Win AL: +2142
Current Odds To Win AL West: +740
Regular Season Win Total: 82.5
While most teams waited out a slow moving Free Agent market, Dipoto did most of his shopping early, adding Dee Gordon via trade, signing Juan Nicasio and trading for Ryan Healy to take over at first base.
Healy is now on the disabled list. Dan Vogelbach and Mike Ford will hold down the position in his absence.
In 2017, the Mariners scored 750 runs, the seventh most in the American League. This team was a solid—but unspectacular—offense last year.
In 2018, Seattle has Dee Gordon leading off and playing centerfield. The fleet-footed Gordon is a career middle-infielder so the shift to the outfield will be an interesting one defensively, but he’s got the speed to make up for some poor jumps.
At the plate, Gordon is a career .293 hitter and has produced an average over .300 two of the last three years. He’s not one to take many walks, instead serving as a slash hitter atop the order much in the Juan Pierre mold. If his average remains high, he still manages to get on base enough to allow his speed to play atop the order. He stole 60 bags last year and has at least 58 in three of his last four years.
Coupled with Gordon at the top, Jean Segura is another strong table setter. Another .300 hitter, Segura puts the bat on the ball and uses his speed. He stole 22 bases in 125 games and produced a .349 OBP.
There should be a lot of traffic on the bases ahead of the trio of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. Cano is now 35, but still an above average hitter. Cruz will play in his age 37 season, but has been getting better with age. He hit .288 last year with 39 homers and 119 RBIs, producing a 146 OPS+. Seager, meanwhile, had a down year, but still had a 110 OPS+ and can be expected to hit better after a weak first half went into a bounce back second half.
The top five in the Seattle lineup can match up with any in game. Beyond the first five, the Mariners have Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino, both of whom were streaky, but showed the ability to be 25-30 homer bats.
Even at Safeco Field, the Mariners can be depended on to score runs. Can they prevent runs?
The pitching staff has its share of questions. The bullpen should be strong. The addition of Juan Nicasio to set up Edwin Diaz is huge. That’s a good one-two punch at the end of the games. Nick Vincent, David Phelps, Marc Rzepcynski and others can be mixed and matched to cover an inning or two a night. Still, Seattle needs the start to go six strong most nights.
The top of the rotation will feature Felix Hernandez and James Paxton. Both need to deliver.
Hernandez has taken steps back the last few years. Injuries and diminished stuff have hurt him. He made 16 starts last year and had a 4.36 ERA. He needs to be better than that.
Paxton, meanwhile, is already 29 and yet to establish himself fully. Injuries keep getting in the way. He did make 24 starts last year and pitched to a 2.98 ERA and 2.61 FIP in those starts. He’s one of the better southpaws in baseball when healthy, but hasn’t pitched more than 24 games in his career.
The back-half of the Seattle rotation features Mike Leake, Erasmo Ramirez and Marco Gonzales. The Cardinals gave up on Leake and Gonzales while Ramirez has been a swing-man most of his career.
The Mariners are a team that could complete for a Wild Card spot in 2018 if everything breaks right, but they’ll need the rotation to stay healthy and be productive. If Ariel Miranda—and his 5.12 ERA—leads the team in innings again 2018, it could be another long season.
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-April 1: vs Cleveland Indians
April 3-4: at San Francisco Giants
April 5-8: at Minnesota Twins
April 9-11: at Kansas City Royals
April 13-15: vs Oakland Athletics
April 16-19: vs Houston Astros
April 20-22: at Texas Rangers
April 23-25: at Chicago White Sox
April 26-29: at Cleveland Indians
The Mariners are in a division with the defending World Series Champions and will be tested against the Astros in a series beginning on April 16.
Prior to that, Seattle gets the Indians and Twins along with a few easier opponents such as San Francisco, Kansas City and Oakland. Sprinkle in the Rangers and White Sox and most of the April schedule is rather light for Seattle, giving the Mariners a chance to get off to a strong start. They’ll need to do just that to hang with the Astros and Angels at the top of the division. Texas was 12-26 against those two teams last year and have just four games against Houston in April, none against Los Angeles.
The season opener, however, will be a tough one for the Mariners. They host their Opening Day against the Indians who are one of the deeper teams in the AL. They will play Cleveland again at the end of the month, book-ending April with some of the month’s hardest competition.
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