With a record of 7-9, the Mariners come to Oakland tied with the Angels for third place in the wild western division, just a half of a game behind the A’s in second, and 3.5 games behind the first place Astros. The A’s usual opening day opponents made a ton of trades and small signings throughout the entire offseason to try and finally push the underachieving franchise over the edge.
The Mariners improved just about every single aspect of their roster during their busy offseason. Players like Danny Valencia, Mitch Haniger, and Jean Segura were traded for to deepen their already-powerful lineup. Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Dyson were brought aboard to shore up the team’s defensive shortcomings. Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly were signed and traded for to round out the weaker back-half of their starting rotation. Mark Rzepczynski, among others, joined up with Seattle to compete for a strong bullpen that makes up for its lack in elite arms with a strong amount of quality depth.
The new-and-improved Mariners certainly did not look it to begin the 2017 campaign. The first three games the Mariners played against the Astros saw them flailing badly at Houston’s starting pitching before finally taking the fourth and final game of their opening series, courtesy of some ninth inning heroics against Houston’s closer. Against the Angels in their next series, things got worse. Not only were the Mariners swept at the hands of Los Angeles, but the final game of the series saw the Mariners hemorrhage away a six run lead in the final frame. Through their first two series, the Mariners were a paltry 1-6 record.
It would get better for Seattle after that lowest of lows. On the Mariners’ first home stand of the year, they went 6-3 overall and have put the team right back into the thick of the race for first place. The offense finally started to click after being nearly nonexistent and inconsistent over the first week of the year. They are now leaving the comfy confines of home to make the trip to Oakland for a four game series, were they will assuredly hope that their early season road woes will not continue.
Seattle has been a perennial playoff contender for a while now, but that team hasn’t been able to do much with that title. Twice in the last three seasons, the Mariners managed to win at least 86 games, but missed the playoffs. The Mariners haven’t been to the postseason since their very historic 116-win campaign in 2001, but even that team couldn’t go all the way. The postseason window for this iteration of Mariners appears to be closing, as all the stars of the team, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager are all over thirty, or rapidly approaching it, and are already losing some of the effectiveness that they had at their peak. If new Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto has anything to say about it, however, the Mariners will likely continue to wheel and deal and retool their roster in creative ways to try and keep a competitive team on the field.
But if the playoffs and championship don’t happen this year for the Mariners, with the Astros continually improving, the Angels un-destituting themselves, the Rangers’ deep pockets and the A’s wave of young and talented prospects due to emerge, Seattle could be in deep trouble in the AL West.
This will be a four game series in Oakland. Against all odds, despite facing 4/5 of the Mariners’ starting five, the A’s will not be facing Felix Hernandez in this series unless something unforeseen occurs.
4/20, at 7:05: Valdez (0-0) vs Paxton (2-0) on MLB Network, NBCSCA+, and MLB.tv
4/21, at 7:05: Manaea (0-1) vs Iwakuma (0-1) on NBCSCA and MLB.tv
4/22, at 1:05: Cotton (1-2) vs Miranda (1-1) on NBCSCA and MLB.tv
4/23, at 1:05: Triggs (3-0) vs Gallardo (0-2) on NBCSCA and MLB.tv
Link to Lookout Landing