Saturday night was an evening out with the missus, but quite fun as I was able to check in on the Mariners’ 12-6 dismantling of the Orioles. Today the M’s go for a four game sweep of the East-division leading O’s. With a disastrous June flowing into a more promising July, the M’s seem poised to climb the ladder of teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. Or, not, July looks just as tough as June, beginning with the series in Houston that starts on Monday.
What is clear, however, is that at this moment the Mariners have assembled a workable starting rotation. That doesn’t mean it’s the best rotation or even a good one, but that an Iwakuma, Paxton, Miley, Walker, LeBlanc rotation might give enough quality innings to keep a team that has the potential to score a lot of runs in the game and allow M’s a chance to win with its rapidly changing bullpen. Is this rotation good enough to take Seattle to the playoffs? If Felix comes back healthy, and Miley can figure out what’s wrong with him, maybe. But these guys will have to remember who they were in April and May and flush June down the clubhouse potty.
The bullpen also has yellow construction tape all over it. Remember the relatively soft tossing crew of Cishek, Benoit, Peralta, Vincent, Montgomery, Zych and Nuno? With the exception of Montgomery and Zych, they all threw 89-92. Through injuries and ineffectiveness, the bullpen has a new motto “speed kills.” With Nate Karns’ right-handed speed moving to the bullpen, he joins hard throwers Tom Wilhelmsen and Edwin Diaz to add some explosive right handed relief to a bullpen that was overworked and ailing. If Karns can find some consistency and if Wilhelmsen can find his missing confidence, this bullpen could be a more effective weapon moving forward.
Again, I give a lot of credit to Jerry DiPoto, his wide contacts in the game. He knew LeBlanc from his time with the Angels, and he wasted little time pulling in Wilhelmsen after his release by the Rangers. Are these long-term moves that will make the M’s winners? I have no idea. But he didn’t wait for things to get better on their own. I like to see that. Starting play today, the M’s have moved within 1.5 games of the second Wild Card spot. Just win baby, just win.