The Seattle Mariners have built up a reputation as a team that is built on pitching and defense, but that couldn’t hit their way out of wet paper bag. Heading into the 2013 season, the Mariners’ front office seemed determined to change that. They aggressively added big bats to their lineup via trades and moved the fences in at Safeco Field with the hope of infusing some offense into the team. While that has worked (sort of), the team is struggling out of the gate and poor pitching has been the biggest culprit.
In eight games against division opponents, Seattle currently sit at just 3-5 and the formula for their struggles is painted in pretty start contrast. In their back-to-back wins to open the season against the Oakland Athletics, the M’s pitching was phenomenal. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma threw a pair of gems where the A’s were only able to get six combined hits and one total run. Since then, however, the arms of Seattle have fallen off in a major way.
In losing five of their next six games against the AL West, Seattle gave up 10 hits or more five times (all losses) while giving up five runs or more in each of those games. Their struggles were highlighted by the drubbing they took at the hands of the limited offense of the Houston Astros during their 16-9 loss, where Houston, who entered the series with the worst offense in baseball, notched 22 hits, including five home runs and eight total extra-base hits.
Several of the pitchers that Seattle felt confident relying out of spring training have fallen flat to start the year. Brandon Maurer looked shaky in his first start before failing to get out of the first inning against the Astros and sitting with an 0-2 record and a 16.20 ERA to start the year. Kameron Loe, who was supposed to be the go-to long relief option out the pen for Seattle this season, was unable to meet expectations and was designated for assignment after just four appearances where he gave up 11 hits, six of which were home runs, and eight runs over just 6.2 innings.
Eric Wedge and the team has been forced to start making moves already to try and find some consistent pitching. Lucas Luetge was sent down tot he minors after the Houston debacle just to get a fresh arm into the bullpen and the team went out and acquired veteran starter Aaron Harang from the Colorado Rockies to try and add some kind of stable presence to the back end of the rotation (which has been terrible).
The acquisitions of the offseason were supposed to make Seattle a contender in 2013, the sheer ineffectiveness of the pitching staff has made any offensive improvement (however slight) meaningless. Unless the offense begins scoring 10 runs a game, the pitching must get back to being a strength of this team. But with the season already underway and the bullpen seemingly already getting stretched beyond their ability, are the arms in Seattle to get that done?