Look, I’m a lifetime Puget Sound resident, a from-the-beginning Seattle Mariners fan; I root for them always. That’s who I am.
I like this team, I like what they’re doing, I love that they are winning and how they are getting it done. But forgive me if I’m not all in on them at this point. I have too many scars and burn marks from past teams to believe this is the one that will take Seattle to the promised land (the World Series) or the even the playoffs at this point. Looks good so far. But I’m still waitin’ and seein’. But if they are still hot at game 50, count me in.
They’ve accomplished so much to date. Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs has a nice story about their improvements defensively and in the bullpen. But I’m still skeptical about the bullpen, especially the Steve Johnsons and Mayckol Guaipes of this world. By many measures-ERA, WHIP, BABIP, K%-the M’s are functioning as one of the best bullpens in major league baseball, but I’m just not a believer, or at least I just don’t believe they can keep it up. I hope they prove me wrong.
The fact remains, they are winning. A lot of the teams they’re beating aren’t very good. Doesn’t matter, because any team that wants to win has to beat the bad teams too. Remember 2014 and the trouble the M’s had beating a bad Houston Astros team (10-9 against an Astros team that went 70-92.) May is a really good month for them schedule-wise. The Mariners play a bunch of stinkers. They get the Angels, A’s, Twins and Padres at home. They play the Reds on the road. Their only real test this month is a three game series against the division-leading Orioles in Camden Yards, May 17-19.
Whether the M’s end up a playoff-bound team or not, their winning is a pretty well-kept secret at the moment. ESPN may mention the Mariners on their twitter feed, but they certainly don’t seem worthy of a story. Max Scherzer’s 20 K game, Stephen Strasburg’s contract extension and Bryce Harper’s one game suspension have generated far more words than the Mariners run of series wins. On SI.com, the M’s are nowhere to be found. MLB.com included Ianetta’s 11th inning walk-off of the Rays in their top ten moments yesterday, but far more space went to Red Sox, Rangers and Rockies victories than the surging Mariners.
The M’s are a legit story. With 17 games remaining in the month, the Mariners only need four wins to be 25-25 at the 50 game mark. If they continue to win at their current pace, that’s 30-31 wins. If they beat up the bums they are going to play, who knows?
It’s clear the M’s real competition in the division is the Rangers, while the Angels, Astros and A’s are all around .400, 7.5 games out. It may change, they may get hot, but I only have concern of the Astros turning things around at this point. They’re the team with real talent, if they remember how they pitched early last year. The A’s are bad and the Angels are a hospital ward.
If the Mariners can restock their bullpen with healthy relievers-Benoit, Furbush and Zych, I’ll like their chances better. Perhaps Ryan Cook and Edwin Diaz might not be far behind. If the M’s can keep their bullpen healthy and stocked with the best arms available, they can be in this thing.
The Cubs and White Sox are off to a great start. The Mets and Orioles look good too. But there’s a pretty good team, right now, in the Northwest. We’re worth a look too.