Yes, it’s only spring training. . . but really?

Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo gets ready to join the procession of starting pitchers destroyed in their most recent start.  Today Gallardo surrendered seven runs on nine hits, including three dingers, in his 4.1 innings of work. 

A couple of interesting articles on the web today.  Well, Thursday actually, but who’s counting? Tony Blengino posted an interesting analysis of the AL West on Fangraphs, using his own BIP modeling, and determined the M’s were the strongest team in an AL West with teams full of flaws.  However, his belief was the M’s, built out of desperation to win now, should beat the Astros, and do well in the playoffs. In the interest of transparency, Blengino was the chief statistical analyst for Jack Zdurencik in 2009, but was pretty much shuffled to the side of the road when the 2010 team imploded.

A pretty interesting and fun, if somewhat fanciful story on Lookout Landing by Isabelle Minasian and John Trupin today.  They compare and contrast the 2017 and 2001 teams. Despite many disclaimers, Minasian and Trupin’s work is fun, though I don’t quite see as many comparisons they do.  I must say this.  If you truly love Mariners baseball LL is showcasing some of the very best writing in the many years I’ve been reading this blog.  They’ve added some new faces to their team, and since Kate Preusser took over as editor, the quality of writing-always interesting-has simply gone through the roof.  Still lots of stats, but as a writing-first person, I’ve never been more impressed.

Yes, lots of kind words for the Mariners, but they actually did play a game today.  Yep the M’s ran out one of their starting five, and for the second day in a row was tied to a stake, lit on fire and burned alive.  Yesterday it was Drew Smyly allowing an impressive three home runs in four innings to go with three other hits and four walks.  Drew was “rusty.”

Today the victim was Yovani Gallardo.  In 4.1 innings, Gallardo equaled Smyly, coughing up three homers, allowing a total of nine hits and two walks to create seven earned runs.  But wait, as though it wasn’t enough to cremate the starting pitcher, lefty specialist Mark Rzepczynski jumped in the barbecue pit with him, doused himself with fire starter and lit a match.  A mere 11 pitches later, Scrabble allowed four hits, including a home run and three earned runs.  Brisket for two.

Yes friends, it is just spring training, but it’s getting late in the game.  I know, I know it’s tough to pitch in Arizona.  Yes, pitchers are working on stuff.  But others somehow manage to do it.  Especially against the backdrop of lots of movement out of the major league camp, I’d sure like some reassurance that the starting rotation is a little more stable than I fear it is.

The Tacoma shuttle sets up

A series of moves this weekend began to set up the rotation in Tacoma.  Saturday, lefty Ariel Miranda was optioned to the Rainiers.  Manager Scott Servais’ observation that Miranda had been “just OK” this spring, as well a desire to see him as a starter rather than a reliever, led to pulling the trigger on the move.

Sunday the M’s sent right hander Chris Heston to Tacoma, and Cody Martin, Nick Hagadone and Jean Macchi to minor league camp.  None of these were a surprise though Hagadone, coming off two years of serious injury, had a pretty good camp and was a sentimental favorite to make the team.

Seven days to go

The season begins for the Mariners a week from today in Houston.  The M’s still have a lot to do.  Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz are both ill with the cold that has circulated the clubhouse.  Danny Valencia continues to struggle with the bat.  Jarrod Dyson continues to struggle with his legs. Lots of work to do in terms of sorting out the bullpen.  With Tony Zych, Shae Simmons and Steve Cishek likely not that far from being able to join the team-in April some time-do the M’s add players like right-hander Jonathan Aro or lefty Dean Kiehefer to the 40-man roster, knowing they’ll have to lose somebody for a three or four week fill in.  Today the bullpen looks like this:

Edwin Diaz      RHP

Evan Scribner RHP

Mark Rzepczynski  LHP

Dan Altavilla  RHP

Nick Vincent  RHP

Casey Fien  RHP

With the guys unable to go for opening day, and a desire to carry eight in the ‘pen, there’s room for two more, one a right-hander, the other a lefty. It’s looking like James Pazos will be that left-hander, but the righty is less clear.  It’s quite possible, with other teams cutting down their rosters, Trader Jerry will be unable to restrain his basic instincts and the M’s will add another to the mix in the closing days of camp, as the Mariners did to acquire Nick Vincent in 2016.  Though the roster is settled elsewhere, the clay still ain’t dry in the bullpen.

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