I am sure many fans are disappointed of the Mariners though they won 89 games.
They weren’t able to get into the playoffs for the first time in 17 years although when July started it really looked like they were going to get in. The unfortunate part the Oakland A’s got hot and were able to get into the wild card. On Tuesday though the A’s season ended fast losing to the Yankees in the one game playoff; I wouldn’t be surprised the same fate happens to the Mariners if they had made the wild card instead of the A’s.
Does show Jerry Dipoto and his staff have work to do during the off-season to become a better team next season. Not only acquiring players but the remaining players dedicated to become better as well.
So I will give my report card on each position on the team and the players played those positions.
I begin looking at the starting pitching. The rotation primarily was made up of James Paxton, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Felix Hernandez and Wade LeBlanc. Also Erasmo Ramirez made several starts late in the season along with Roenis Elias who the Mariners reacquired in May.
James Paxton was expected to be the ace of the team. He pitched like one when he was healthy. I wonder if he will ever be fully healthy. He did have a record of 11-6 with 3.76 in 28 starts. It would have been nice he could have pitched in 33 games. I am sure several of the starts he made wasn’t totally healthy either. He had been healthy in all the starts I see an era of 2.76. A full run off of his season ending era; the highlight of his season of course was the no-hitter against the Blue Jays in Toronto on May 9. Grade A-1
Marco Gonzales was one of the surprise pitchers in the starting rotation. He ended up with a record of 13-9 with the highest win total on the Mariners staff. His earn run average turned out at 4.00 because he had injuries late in the season and had to go on the disabled list. I wouldn’t be surprised he had stayed healthy he would have had an era of 3.00. The Mariners could have had at least one or two more victories to their total if he had been healthy all along. I have to say the same for Paxton. Grade B+
Mike Leake had the season the Mariners may have expected where he would pitch not missing many starts. In fact he started 31 games the most on the staff with an era of 4.36 and a record of 10-10. Though he did start throughout the season with no injuries he was inconsistent. At times he looked real good but he looked bad at other times. In the games where he had no decisions showed he gave the Mariners a chance to win and I am sure the Mariners won a few of them as well because I do remember a few times where they won after they were tied when he left the game. Since he was able to make over 30 starts I give him a grade of C+.
Wade LeBlanc I am sure was the surprise outside of Gonzales in the rotation. He ended up with a record of 9-5 with the lowest era among the starts at 3.72. He did well most of the season though he looked like he tired out near the end of the season. He was second on the team in giving up home runs with 24. Like many starters his trouble was having one bad inning. He is solid as either a number four or fifth starter. I see him in the same spot next year. I hope he is a number five starter so the Mariners will have added on another starter to the rotation. Grade B
Felix Hernandez I am sure the most disappointing of the Mariners starters. We were expecting him to be the second starter behind Paxton however he had a record of 8-14 with an era of 5.55. He led the staff giving up 27 home runs. Many of those home runs were early in the games. He averaged five and a third-innings per start. Only thing positive he was able to start 28 times compared to 16 times in 2016. The Mariners moved him to the bullpen however he only pitched once when he relieved Paxton in the first inning in mid-August because he was hit by a line drive in the first inning. He actually pitched well in the game. He did show at times being effective but a bad inning was his undoing especially in the first inning. Manager Scott Servais took him out early without hesitation in his last outing of the season late in September but I think Servais should have done the same several other times as well. Since Felix has one year left with a contract over $25 million. Some feel Mel Stottlemyre Jr. was fired at the end of the season because of how Felix pitched. I am sure we will never know the truth of Stottlemyre’s firing. One thing we do know Felix will have to show he can rebound to being an effective starting pitcher in spring training. I am sure he won’t be in the bullpen at all next year. Likely they will release him if he isn’t able to pitch effectively. Certainly be a sad way to see the best pitcher in Mariner history to go out that way. Grade D
Erasmo Ramirez spent most of 2018 on the disabled list. He did spend some time on rehab assignments primarily in Arkansas double A and Tacoma Triple A before being activated on Aug. 12. He took over Felix spot in the rotation. He look effective at times especially in his first couple starts but become ineffective as well. He started ten games with a record of 2-4 with an era of 6.50 pitching 45 and 2/3 innings. Not great stats for sure. Will be interesting to see if he has a spot at all in the rotation, be sent to the bullpen where he comes in early as a long reliever and be a spot starter as well. Dipoto could decide to trade or release him as well. I am sure we will find out soon enough. Grade D.
Roenis Elias made most of his appearances out of the bullpen though he made 4 starts. In 23 games he had a record of 3-1 with an era of 2.65 and he gave up only 1 home run on the season. According to manager Servais the Mariners will look to find a permanent role for Elias whether it is as the 5th starter, long reliever with some spot starts or a bigger role in the bullpen. One thing for sure Elias has a chance to have a spot on the Mariner’s 25-man roster when 2019 begins. Grade B.
Overall I give the starting rotation a grade of B. They did better than expected though they do have a chance to improve next season. This will depend on whether the Mariners pick up another starter or not.
The bullpen had plus and minuses over the season. I am sure everyone can figure where the plus primarily comes from along with the minuses.
Edwin Diaz had an outstanding season ending tied with second most saves in the major leagues with 57 saves. He should be named Fireman of the Year. He was so dominated he struck out 124 batters in 73 1/3 innings while walking 17 batters the same amount of runs he gave up. Grade A+
Alex Colome the Mariners picked up from the Tampa Bay Rays on May 25 along with outfielder Denard Span. He had been the closer for the Rays however the Mariners plan to be the eighth inning setup man for the Mariners. He was a little erratic when he came over in his new role however in 47 games for the Mariners he had 30 holds. Grade A-
The middle relievers for the Mariners had their ups and downs all season long. Many bullpens this does happen and the Mariners were not much different.
Juan Nicasio the Mariners signed during the off-season to be the eighth inning setup man before getting Colome had trouble early on giving up leads along with the rest of the bullpen. One of the reasons the Mariners had so many one run wins. They often were ahead by three or more than the opposition got back into the game. On June 8 he was placed on the disabled list with right knee effusion which likely why he was having trouble pitching. He did get back 10 days later however he again had trouble pitching. On August 3 he placed on the disabled list again with the right knee inflammation which in the end cost him the rest of the season and he had to have surgery. The Mariners are hoping he will be able to get back to being the pitching they wanted when they signed him to a two-year free agent contract. When he returns likely he will be the seventh inning setup man to get the Mariners to Colome and Diaz.
Nick Vincent originally was the seventh inning setup man before changing role until Nicasio was injured was another with up and down season. Hard to know where he is planned for use in next season’s bullpen. The Mariners had issues with the left handed specialist as well. Rzepczynski had trouble before being released by the Mariners. They went without one for a couple months before picking up Zach Duke before the trading deadline but he didn’t turn out to be the answer either. Most likely he won’t return next year as he will be a free agent and the Mariners probably won’t go after him. James Pazos had a good season but wasn’t used in the lefty specialist role however with his second year under his belt for the Mariners they could move him into the role unless they are able to pick up someone else. I give the bullpen a grade of B because of the work of Diaz and Colome. We hope Nicasio can return to form and other pitchers can do a good job so the Mariners will raise the grade to a B+ or A- next season.
Next post I will look at the position players. Go M’s.