By Jordan Wevers @JordanWevers on May 8, 2014
Lloyd McClendon and the Seattle Mariners are the hottest MLB team in the month of May. April was a roller coaster for the ball club though, complete with injuries, slumps, transactions and a myriad of other events. Here are five conclusions that can be drawn about the team now that 25 games are in the books, and April has come and gone.
Xavier Avery, Nick Franklin and James Jones are all position players who were shuffled on and off the Mariners' roster in April. Add Abraham Almonte and Connor Gillespie to that list for May, and it's apparent the M's do not have a reliable bat to call upon from the minors in a dire situation. While Jesus Montero's power numbers are encouraging in Triple-A, his BA is only .260, and Mike Zunino appears to be the better option moving forward.
Names like Roenis Elias and Chris Young have helped to offset the early season injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Despite using mostly a patchwork pitching staff in April, McClendon was able to emerge from last month with a respectable 3.74 team ERA and a record hovering around .500 (11-14) after 25 contests.
Building on the second point in this slideshow, the emergence of Elias and the stable production of veteran Young has allowed the Mariners to be patient with prized, but injured pitching prospects, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Seattle fans should be salivating over a healthy rotation by the time June rolls around. Without any further setbacks, that is when the two youngsters should be set to re-join the ball club.
Three of five AL West ballparks favor pitching over hitting. That said, the Athletics (20-15) currently sit atop the division with a team ERA of 3.05, Seattle (17-16) is second with a team ERA of 3.65, and the Angels (16-17) are not far behind at 3.88. Hitting is always vital, but this appears to be a division that will be won or lost based on the strengths and weaknesses of each teams' respective rotation and bullpens.
In his previous five seasons (2009-13) with the Yankees playing in the hitter friendly parks of the AL East, Robinson Cano averaged 5.8 HRs and had a SLG percentage of .594 in the opening month of the regular season. Now 31 years old and playing his home games at a pitchers park in Safeco Field, he hit one home run and slugged .378 in March/April of 2014. He has little protection in the lineup, and is still yet to homer after eight games in May.
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