Game 92, Mariners at Angels: The Second Half Begins

marc w · July 16, 2021 at 4:02 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Flexen vs. Andrew Heaney, 6:38pm (?)

The second half begins today, and the M’s are on the outskirts of a playoff race. Shannon Drayer lays it all out here, but the M’s are in an odd position vis a vis the trade deadline. Their position in the standings would argue for adding MLB talent this month, whereas the longer term goals and their stated process might argue for trading vets for younger talent, even if that talent wasn’t quite ready to shine this season. The team obviously believes that they’re good, and doesn’t want to hear about run differential. But for any acquisition to make a difference, the M’s young players need to step up. That begins tonight, as Jarred Kelenic rejoins the team.

Cal Raleigh’s up, taking Taylor Trammell’s roster spot. Kyle Lewis may rejoin the team in late August, though Evan White is completely done for the year (he’s having his hip surgically repaired). Kelenic and Trammell’s struggles haven’t doomed the M’s chances, but combined with Evan White’s struggles, the M’s have had some issues transitioning position player prospects to the majors. It’s why their offense ranks 28th in MLB, and still claims the lowest team batting average. If they get someone to play 2B or the OF, they’ll still need to figure this problem out, especially with Cal Raleigh now with the team. None of this means their prospects aren’t going to hit eventually, but if they want to make a run, they need contributions and not growing pains.

Logan Gilbert’s emergence, Yusei Kikuchi’s improvements, and the pick-up of Chris Flexen have given the M’s a rotation that can be a real strength, even despite the wave of injuries that have claimed so many of the pitchers the M’s started the season with. This and the emergence of bullpen aces like Kendall Graveman and Paul Sewald are testaments to the player development group, which makes the issues with young hitters all the tougher to figure out.

1: Crawford, SS
2: Haniger, RF
3: France, 1B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Torrens, DH
6: Raleigh, C
7: Kelenic, CF
8: Moore, 2B
9: Long, LF
SP: Flexen

Edited to note a line-up change, as Shed Long, Jr. replaces Jake Fraley in LF. Always interesting in this part of the season when you see a late line-up change…

The M’s DFA’d Rule 5 reliever Will Vest. It’s too bad, though Vest’s performance certainly made it hard for the M’s to keep him around. In general, he just never quite seemed like the guy we heard about when he was acquired. His vaunted velo gains didn’t seem to come with him to Seattle, and the M’s couldn’t coax bat-missing stuff out of his slider. With strikeouts up, it’s just tough to be a righty reliever with a K rate under 20%. It’s impossible if, in addition to that K%, you’ve got a BB% over 10%.

The M’s draft was high on high school players in the first few rounds, but they filled it out with plenty of college players. After taking preps with their first 3 picks, they grabbed college players in all the remaining rounds, and only one of those, final pick Troy Taylor, was a JuCo pick. Some of that – and especially the seniors – may help them afford higher bonus demands with early picks, but some of that reflects the need to fill out their rosters. The M’s have been ridiculously active on the waiver wire and signing players out of independent leagues. Every org needs to do that from time to time, but I certainly hope the M’s can give more PAs/innings to drafted players in the coming years, even despite a draft that’s smaller than it used to be.


2 Responses to “Game 92, Mariners at Angels: The Second Half Begins”

  1. Longgeorge1 on July 17th, 2021 7:27 pm

    Is Kikuchi being hurt by the “sticky stuff rule”?

  2. Stevemotivateir on July 18th, 2021 1:45 pm

    Quite the dilemma for Seattle now with Fraley testing positive for the virus and the deadline less than 2 weeks away.

    So much for outfield depth.

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