Baseball is officially back. Not these middle of the night, way too early meaningful games. Real games. Like in a normal time slot. The Mariners opened up 2019 at home against the defending World Series champ and the series did not disappoint.
If you like offense then this series was for you. The Mariners took 3 of 4 from the Sox and did so largely behind gaudy offensive performances up and down the lineup. The pitching looked shaky but this is to be expected of the M’s this season. Thanks to a “score a bunch early and hang on for dear life approach”, the Mariners were able to win the series and improve to 5-1 on the young season.
The bats looked good. Like really good. The Mariners scored 34 runs in 4 games and absolutely torched a Red Sox starting staff coming off massive performances in the post season. The clip the bats are clicking at obviously isn’t sustainable, but its a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Ryon Healy thoroughly impressed showing excellent vision and discipline at the plate while shitting on everything he liked in the zone. Across the board the lineup was selective and made the Red Sox pitchers throw a lot of pitches.
The starting pitching was a little shaky to start the year. This doesn’t really surprise me. The 2019 season started a week earlier than normal and pitchers across the league haven’t looked sharp in their debuts. All 4 of the M’s starters did a great job of competing without their best stuff and giving the team a chance to win while the bats carried the load. This will probably be a familiar theme throughout the season but look for the starting pitching to continue to improve as we move forward.
The bullpen was as advertised. Mediocre. After trading away Diaz, Colome, Nicasio and Pazos, this was expected. The loss of Hunter Strickland certainly doesn’t help in the short term but the larger issue is finding someone who will be able to give the ball club consistent shut down innings. They mixed and matched their way through the series, trying to evade the occasional land mine inning from various perpetrators. The bats carried the day and bailed out the pen when they needed it most. And to be fair, shitty defense did the bullpen no favors.
The defense was not good. The loss of Kyle Seager has already made its presence known. Healy didn’t look good at third early on, but improved as the series went on. Jay Bruce is not good at first base. For the entire pitching staff’s sake, they will be in much better shape with Seager manning the hot corner and Healy playing more first. Dylan Moore did everything he could to make me have zero faith in him. You can’t let mistakes compound. You have to be mentally tough. I understand first game nerves, and those are a very real thing; But at a certain point you have to be a baseball player.
Knee Jerk Reaction:
I think this team is going to be competitive. The bullpen still scares the shit out of me, but I do think this team will be able to score enough runs to compete. The defense should get better as the team gets healthier, but everything will come down to pitching. Personally, I would love to see the front office take a crack at signing Craig Kimbrel. You have some money available, see if you can get him for 3 years or so. The free agent classes of tomorrow are rapidly eroding with a rash of extensions. These could throw a wrench in the Mariners long term plans if there are no free agent studs available to be signed. As we continue to see players become reluctant to test the market, it makes more sense to try to lock up a historically productive reliever, even if he isn’t quite what he used to be. He would be easily the best arm in the pen right now and we could use all the help we can get.
I think this team will be a bit of a surprise. I said from the beginning I believed this team would be better than the projections. I still don’t think this team will be in the playoffs this year but I don’t expect the year to be a complete train wreck. It will be interesting to see how guy’s like Domingo Santana and Ryon Healy continue to produce as the season progresses. Both have looked solid early on, but we have to wait and see if they are able to make adjustments as the league adjusts to them. I would look for the starting pitching to improve as guys continue to get a better feel for their pitches and their command improves. The bullpen is still the biggest question mark and we will have to see how things unfold in the coming weeks. Felix has his first start of the season tomorrow against the Angels and it seems appropriate to expect Mike Trout to shit all over him and Felix to have yet another bad outing. Hopefully he starts trying to make adjustments or he may be in for a quick demotion with Justus Sheffield eagerly waiting for his chance. The M’s are 5-1 currently so let’s try to enjoy our week as the best team in baseball. It seems impossible that it will last.