The Seattle Mariners got on the right foot on their final road trip of the season beating the Minnesota Twins 10-1 Friday night. We do hope that the Mariners will play more games on the road when the season ends because that means that they made the playoffs.
Nelson Cruz hit a home run and a double to drive in four games while Robinson Cano had four hits and Kyle Seager had three. Also Mike Zunino hit a double to drive in a couple runs as well.
Besides the great hitting the Mariners got outstanding pitching from James Paxton who pitched seven innings while striking out nine batters and giving up one run; Paxton is really showing us as long as he can stay healthy he could become among the elite pitchers in the American League. The key is staying healthy which he has had problems doing since coming up to the Seattle Mariners.
Although I would like the Mariners to go out and acquire another starting pitcher for next year the starting rotation right now looks for coming season with Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Iwakuma, TaiJuan Walker and Ariel Miranda. They do look like a good group for the Mariners however Felix, Paxton and Walker all struggled with injuries in 2015 and Iwakuma in previous years. Also we don’t know how much longer that Iwakuma can be healthy so the Mariners need so depth in the starting rotation. Getting at least one starting pitcher the Mariners could move Miranda to the bullpen and then be available when one of the other guys goes down. This could be said of Nathan Karns who looked effective out of the bullpen most of the time until he got hurt.
The Mariners two positions in the infield still look solid going into 2017 with Robinson Cano at second base and Kyle Seager at third base both having great seasons. We just hope that Seager can start off strong next April instead of always having a slow start. The question is Ketel Marte still the Mariners shortstop of the future or will Dipoto go out shopping for another shortstop with experience. Whether the Mariners are going to make the playoffs in the next week the shortstop position could be one of their weak spots going into next year. Another infield position is first base. Adam Lind will be a free agent and likely will not be back. Although he played good defense and hit some memorable home runs his batting average was lower than expected and under the circumstances he still may be offered a good contract from another team especially since the free agent group is weak. The Mariners have Daniel Vogelbach vying for being the left handed hitting first base that the Mariners got in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Another question will they try to retain Dae-Ho Lee to be the right handed first baseman or go in another direction. Lee had a good first half of the season and became somewhat of a folk hero but faltered in the second half. I am sure the Mariners will look for a younger and experienced first baseman to compliment Vogelbach. Someone who may be able to hit right handed pitchers as well if Vogelbach falters.
In the outfield it looks like Aoki and Seth Smith both could be back unless being offered in a trade. They would both start again in platoon situation against right handed pitching. In regards to right handed hitting outfielder it is hard to know whether the Mariners plan to retain Franklin Gutierrez or not. He has some value in the hitting department however he lacks speed and his defense is not where it was in the past. Heredia who started the season after signing with the Mariners out of Cuba was assigned to double A and then played some for Tacoma as well before coming up to the Mariners could be one of the platoon right handed hitters. Right now the other platoon player is in question though utility player Shawn O’Malley could be put in that position as well and that all depends if the Mariners plan to go out and trade for a regular outfielder who could play every day. The Mariners have Ben Gamel who they acquired from the Yankees who shows that he has good defensive skills along with speed however is he ready to play fulltime in the major leagues. We will see what happens for the outfield as well.
When it comes to the bullpen the only ones to seem to return will be closer Edwin Diaz along with former closer Steve Cishek in a setup role and Nick Vincent who has done well while being healthy. Also rookie Dan Altavilla looks like he could be used in the bullpen as well. So that leaves three other pitchers in the bullpen. I am sure that the Mariners will try to go out and get an experienced left handed pitching specialist. If they have to they can fall back on Vidal Nuno or David Rollins. Evan Scribner coming back in September after being out all season looks like a good choice for the bullpen as well if he can stay healthy; so that leaves one bullpen spot left whether it is with current relievers Tom Wilhelmsen, Drew Storen and Arquimedes Caminero or going and getting another one.
So for now the importance is for the Mariners to finish the season off and we hope make the playoffs as a wild card team. Since it looks like Felix Hernandez will pitch the final game of the season the Mariners may look at James Paxton to pitch in the one game that the winner continues in the playoffs. Go M’s.