Seattle M’s: “Who are those guys?’


In the seminal buddies film (buddies who are 1970’s anti-heroes and – spoiler alert – headed for a sad ending) “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, Butch and the Kid are pursued incessantly by a mystery posse. They break away from the rest of their gang, try to lose the posse by walking in a creek, send one of their two horses in a different direction and finally try to lose them by fleeing on foot up a mountain. Through all this, the pursuers never falter, which brings Butch and Kid to continuously ask “Who are those guys”.

The 2018 Astros may be saying this exact quote about their closest pursuers (or at times division leaders), the Seattle Mariners. Here at this blog we reviewed the M’s earlier in the season and estimated they would finish the season at 81-81. https://chipalatta.com/2018/04/16/astros-division-rival-2018-seattle-mariners/  At the 64% pace the M’s are winning at, they would reach 81 wins about the third week in August.

So, who is this team that is keeping pace with the Astros despite losing one of their best players, Robinson Cano for taking a substance that masks PEDs? They are a team that has been terribly efficient or terribly lucky in winning as they have a 46-25 record through Saturday even though they are only +28 in runs scored vs. runs allowed. In comparison, the Astros were only 1/2 a game better at 47-25 despite having a major league-best +154 runs scored over allowed!! The biggest reason is Seattle’s great 23-10 record in one-run games, which is not only a great percentage but also a large number of one-run wins this early in the season. The Astros are a crummy 6-12 in one-run games so far in 2018.

So how are the M’s matching up with the AL?

Starting Pitching

Even though the M’s are trailing the Astros by a run in ERA for their starting rotation, they are still solidly 6th in the AL as nobody is close to the Astros starting five. The M’s are getting top-notch numbers from the expected (James Paxton 6-1, 3.44 ERA), the up and coming (Marco Gonzalez 7-3, 3.42 ERA) and the unexpected journeyman (Former Astro Wade LeBlanc 3-0, 2.63 ERA). Mike Leake (7-3, 4.26 ERA) and Felix Hernandez (6-6, 5.44 ERA) have both benefitted from good run support to hand the M’s 13 wins. The starters have been solid and have given the team a shot all year long.

Bullpen

The M’s bullpen has been just as solid as the starters with a 6th best 3.53 ERA. They are leading the league in saves with 28 (the Astros only have 17) which reflects how great they have been in one-run games. Edwin Diaz has been nails in the closer role, with 27 saves in 30 opportunities. He is on a pace for 60 saves, which really does not seem probable. They have had some injuries in the bullpen, but still have had good performances from Chasen Bradford (4-0, 2.30 ERA), lefty James Pazos (1-1, 1.48 ERA), and Dan Altavilla (3-2, 2.61 ERA and on the DL). Their pen has been solid and clutch in close games.

Offense

The Mariners love the number 6 as they are also 6th in runs scored in the AL (just like they are 6th in ERA for the SPs and RPs). The M’s lost 2B Cano to his suspension, but just so happened to have traded in the offseason for 2B Dee Gordon, who they used in CF until shifting him back to 2B after Cano’s suspension. Along with well known DH Nelson Cruz (16 HR and 39 RBIs), the M’s have developed some little known young players scattered throughout the lineup. SS Jean Segura is vying with Jose Altuve for the top BA with .343 BA / .856 OPS / 43 RBIs and 14 SBs. RF Mitch Haniger is probably their best hitter at this point with a .272 BA/.358 OBP/.872 OPS slash and 16 HRs and a team-leading 53 RBIs. They are getting decent numbers from Gordon and 1B Ryon Healy and 3B Kyle Seager is down at .227 BA, but still has 41 RBIs.

Overall, the Mariners are above average in all aspects of the game. They are in almost every game they play and they have been one of the best teams in baseball when the game is close. Teams that are this good at winning late tend to play with confidence throughout what they feel is a magical year. The Astros just have to hope that the M’s float back towards their real norm.

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68 comments on “Seattle M’s: “Who are those guys?’

  1. As has been pointed out previously, the Astros and the Ms have a LOT of head-to-head games ahead on the schedule. So M’s – If you want it, come and get it; but you better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast.

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  2. Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, and Edwin Diaz stand out as stars on this team, but the rest of the team has been so clutch when they needed to be. Guys like Zunino and LeBlanc have come up big to win despite their numbers.
    I think they are a good team.
    Imagine this: the Mariners could lose the next 21 games and still be a .500 club. They have been just extraordinary so far this year. I have little doubt that they will be one of the five AL playoff teams.
    And you can bet that their GM is going to make some moves. It is what he does.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Off topic, I know.
    One of the things I noticed about the Astros farm system is that 16 of the Astros Top 30 prospects are in the upper levels of the minors. And not included in the Top 30 at all is the leading hitter in the Texas League who is an All-Star and the Texas League Player of the Month.
    3B Randy Cesar is hitting .349 for the year, is only 23 years old and has never been on a prospect list.
    If you look at the lists of other team’s prospects, a lot of them are very young and a long way from the majors. But guys like Rojas and Straw and Ferguson are producing at the highest levels of the minors and are seemingly not talked much about.
    When I look at the Astros prospects I see pitchers who strike batters out and hitters who don’t strike out. That is how the Astros have been built. Seth Beer didn’t get drafted because of his power. He got drafted because he is a power hitter who walked more than he struck out.

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    • I thought the Beer man got drafted for his speed! OP, as you pointed out the other day, the schedule has set us up for a real rivalry in the making. I sure like our chances. I think we’re just starting to play our best ball. We’ve got several guys just now starting to hit. Outside of Stassi and Kemp, and maybe Gattis, not one guy has really put up stats that are unexpected. Correa, Marwin, Yuli, MaCann, Reddick, Bregman, even Jake and I think Altuve too will all grow their OPS’s. Even as we expect Seatttle to pick up more pitching, I’ll take our group over any in the league. And we don’t expect Luhnow to stay pat do we? We’ve got a whole team of guys, some of them still kids, who have played in the biggest of games. I’m not concerned about the Mariners.

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  4. I’ve lamented frequently this year the missed opportunities. The Astros have lost a lot of games that could have been won. While it’s unrealistic to think the bullpen will not lose a few games here and there, imagine if we had 5 of those 10 back. Anyone who has watched basketball knows the commentators love to harp on the danger of letting someone stick around. That’s the territory we’re in right now. As mentioned above, the Astros need to take care of business and win those head to head match ups to create separation.

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    • The Astros are 4-2 this season against Seattle and both of the losses are of this particular matchup: Keuchel vs Paxton. So if your lamentations lead to avoiding losses, this matchup should be avoided.
      But, scoring runs off Paxton is something the Astros have to do. They need to figure it out because laying down for him is not the way to beat Seattle . They need to be a good hitting team against him, too. It can’t always be a one way street.

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  5. The Avengers have a Hulk; the Astros have a Gattis. Congratulations to the AL Player of the Week!

    All that stuff I said about you earlier – I take it all back, Lumberjack!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Forrest Whitley will have his first real professional ‘big game’ challenge tonight in San Antonio. He and his 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 1.19 BAA will be taking the hill for the Hooks in their winner-take-all battle with the San Antonio Missions. The winner of this game will be the Texas League’s first-half champion. Can Forrest tame the powerful San Antonio line-up? We will see.

    Offensively, the Hooks just lost Miles Straw [.327/.414/.805. with 35 SBs] to promotion, but that loss is offset by the fact they just got Yordan Alvarez [.304/.375/.938] back from the DL. This should be one to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hoping that George welcomes the Tampa Bay ‘opener’, Rhyne Stanek, to MMP with a ringing ‘Springer Dinger’ up on the train tracks.

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  8. So who is higher? Reid Ryan, President of Business operations or Jeff Luhnow, President of Baseball operations? I believe Jim Crane is reserving the title Baseball god for himself.

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  9. Last year at this time, the Mariners were 35-37. The first comment in your post from earlier this year was mine. I stated emphatically they were 2 games better or maybe 5 games better. That is 7 games better. 35 +7 = 42. 38-7= 30. They are 46-26. I predicted 42-30. That is within margin of error +/- 3 or 4. I amaze myself.

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  10. Starting to feel like we know it’s going to happen. Bregman says, “we’re having the best time of our lives with our best friends in the world”. Succinct. And beautiful. I appreciate being able to watch these guys.

    CC was up 11 zip last time I checked. I wonder how long Whitley will be playing in Corpus.

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    • CC wins the first half championship, 12-0, and an automatic spot in the playoffs.
      Whitley pitched four shutout innings and left the game ahead, 8-0.
      I hope they leave Whitley down there for a while because they have to build up his pitch count and I feel comfortable with him being close to his home rather than in that rough city of Fresno.
      OMG, the Astros! Cash made the right moves all night long but the Astros’ relentless lineup finally caught up with him in the 9th inning. What a job in the ninth inning by everybody, but here is a tip of the cap for Stassi and Kemp. Their efforts made the win possible.
      Cole has been so good this year and the team hung in there and got him off the hook. Weird stat of the night: Cole only gives up 3 hits.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Just got home from the game and what a blast. Correa made me crazy but Yuli came through as usual two out of three times and Jose actually had three hits at home. On the first one he beat out a routine grounder to short. He seemed to almost will that hit. Cole earned his no decision by coming out in the seventh with over 100 pitches and even Harris picked himself up after messing up the leadoff hitter in the eighth. Kemp is just gritty. Puts up a good AB every time and really executed on the bunt in the ninth. Marwin is amazing me with his arm and his patience at the plate was gratifying. Twelve wins in a row is mind boggling. I can’t imagine what the Indians did last year. But what the heck, we’re over half way there and our chances for #13 look pretty good. How cool would it be to sweep a homestand after sweeping a ten game road trip?

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I usually say a starting pitcher on a MLB club has fulfilled the minimum requirements of his job if he:
    1. gets through at least six innings;
    2. strikes out at least six;
    3. walks/hits no more than two,
    4. makes no errors, and
    5. gives up three or fewer earned runs.

    Last night Gerrit Cole struggled out of the gate, and wound up unable to accomplish either #3 or #5. But showed so much grit and determination to get through 7 innings on an ‘off’ night that I was impressed anyway. Get ’em next time, GC!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. -In the last ten days, the Angels have gone from 3.5 games behind the Astros to 10 games behind the Astros.
    -As the cream rises to the top, the Astros now lead MLB in team BA by seven points, at .268, and Altuve has now taken over the major league lead in batting average at .342.
    -Both Fresno and Corpus Christi had 16 hits in their games last night. Josh James pitched very well for Fresno and got the win on the road in Round Rock.
    – In his first 3 games for Fresno, Myles Straw has 7 hits and 2 stolen bases. He has scored 5 runs. Between AA and AAA Straw is hitting .337 for the year and has more stolen bases than anyone in baseball, including Billy Hamilton.
    – The Nationals traded for Kelvin Herrera yesterday.

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    • Well having Herrera in Washington makes the weekend series against the Royals look a bit easier. I could have seen Herrera with the Astros, but no more. That is a pretty big trade this early in the trade cycle.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. It is trade season. The Astros have a lot to offer for a strong lefty reliever with a track record against the Yanks, the Sox, and the Indians. Let’s look first at outfielders. Who do we keep for the future [as Reddick, Springer, and Marisnick cycle out]? I say we need to keep KTuck, Straw, Alvarez, Julks, Matejevic, and Beer.

    Who are some good outfield prospects that might be made available at the right price: Fisher, Ferguson, Kemp, Wrenn, and Dawson, for a start.

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    • The Astros may not have to trade for anyone.
      Sometime in mid May something big happened to Riley Ferrell. Before May 17th he was the Riley Ferrell we had always seen and since then he has been the Riley Ferrell we always dreamed of. I’m serious here. He was awful and then suddenly he is awesome. I mean o.6 WHIP awesome in his last 12 appearances.. Somebody saw something and they fixed it because this guy is completely different and it happened in almost an instant. His metamorphosis along with the addition of the best players from Buies Creek completely changed the Hook’s fortunes and they have been on fire ever since. I expect him to get promoted to AAA after their break or called up from to the majors in September, or both.
      Ferrell has always had a big fastball and a great curve and never could control them. Suddenly he went from a walk machine to an out machine and it almost has to do with an adjustment in his delivery.

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      • James Hoyt has been very successful against minor leaguers but pretty bad against major leaguers. While I hope you’re right and Ferrell has figured out how to control the zone, he’s still going to have to prove he can get it past hitters at the top level as well. Also, he’s right handed. Mr.Bill is looking for a southpaw.

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    • I am afraid I am going to need to see a consistent diet of success against playoff quality teams – instead of the Oaklands and KCs of the world – before I anoint Will Harris, Tony Sipp, Dallas Keuchel, Colin McHugh, Peacock, Devenski, Smith, Rodon, and Giles as a playoff ready or caliber bullpen. Unfortunately, we don’t play a playoff quality team again until July 30 [Mariners]. We have to make a decision before then, based on what our guys have done against playoff quality teams last year and this. The past record against good teams indicates we are going to need some help. I want someone who has had success against the Yanks, the Red Sox, and the Indians – not just the Rangers, the Athletics, and the Royals.

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  15. Congrats, Devin. You are apparently quoted by fangraphs today from the moment you commented here..

    Notes
    This is the best pitching prospect in baseball, wielding ungodly stuff that spiked when he dropped about 60 pounds throughout his senior year of high school. He’s also on Driveline’s weighted-ball program. He’ll show your four plus or better pitches over the course of an outing. Whitley has yet to allow a run since returning from suspension. The suspension might be a blessing in disguise for Houston, who could now conceivably weave him into their playoff plans without fear of overworking Whitley’s innings count.

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    • Sandy i just went and looked at the lineup. Looks pretty solid through 8. Stassi will get some good protection tonite with Altuve behind him. it is odd to see Altuve there though.

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  16. I’m not as concerned about wehere the stack up to bat but rather the positions. Altuve at first base ? Why?
    Giving the benefit of doubt but makes no sense to me.

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    • Sandy the lineup I see is different but Altuve’s not playing

      Springer RF
      Bregman 2B
      Correa SS
      Gurriel 3B
      Gattis DH
      Gonzalez LF
      Stassi C
      White 1B
      Marisnick CF

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well. That makes more sense. The lineup on AtBat had Altuve batting 8th and playing first base.
        I should’ve known it was a typo.
        Whew. Thought Hinch had lost it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • thats the one i saw too sandy. i didnt notice altuve listed as 1b. he would need one heck of a 1b mitt to get to those high throws. glad white gets a chance tonite

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  17. I’m seeing a lineup that has White at first and Altuve with the night off. Yuli at third, Bregman at second. That’s what is a bit unusual.

    I’m also wondering if maybe the club will go with 7 in the well rested pen for the time being and keep Tyler up for now.

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  18. Bases loaded and Springer tries to score on a shallow fly ball. Another bad base running decision. Not smart. Then JV gives up a HR.

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  19. Marwin just got thrown out. When do you think he’s gonna learn arguing balls and strikes with the Ump, will cost you???

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