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Series #10: Athletics at Mariners - Opportunity for May-hem

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Mariners’ Current Record: 16-11, 2nd place in the AL West, 2.5 games up on the Oakland A’s. The Mariners’ are 11-6 on the road, and have won two straight, and have won seven of their last ten, to pass the Angels in the standings by half a game.

Possible Lineup:

CF - Dee Gordon

SS - Jean Segura

2B - Robinson Cano

DH - Nelson Cruz

3B - Kyle Seager

RF - Mitch Haniger

C - Mike Zunino

LF - Ben Gamel

1B - Ryon Healy

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Felix Hernandez

James Paxton

Erasmo Ramirez

Recent Bullpen Usage:

With the off day on Monday, and using four relievers in very minimal stints on the Sunday before, all arms should be available for the start of this mid-week series.

Hottest Hitter(s):

The top-half of the Mariners lineup continues to be a run-producing machine for Seattle. Gordon and Segura are each hitting over .300 at the top of the lineup, and Cano and Cruz provide the power to drive them in the following two spots. Haniger has been particularly dominant this year, belting ten home runs and OPS-ing 1.085 as the calendar turns to May. After returning from injury, Ryon Healy has been providing power from the bottom of the order, and is looking more like his 2016 self.

Coldest Hitter(s):

The only batter not really producing at the moment is Gamel, who has struggled to hit for average or power this season. Curiously, Guillermo Heredia is stuck in AAA Tacoma despite being one of the better hitters on the squad while he was up before. Heredia was sent down to rehab a minor injury, and appears poised and ready to return to the squad as soon as the front office feels he is necessary.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

The Mariners bullpen has multiple left handers and right handers who can be used in just about any situation, and have been nearly flawless in the season’s first month. Edwin Diaz averages nearly two strikeouts per inning pitched, and has only surrendered two hits and one run in fourteen innings pitched this season. Only one reliever, Dan Altavilla, has a loss on their record. To beat the Mariners, you have to put the game away early.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

There is still no getting around the fact that the Mariners’ starting rotation is awful, and it has only been the brilliance of the bullpen that is keeping the Mariners above the .500 mark. Felix Hernandez has the best numbers of the starting four (with an occasional spot starter thrown in), with a 3-2 record and 4.96 ERA, with six home runs allowed and just twenty six strikeouts in nearly thirty three innings.

Key Injuries:

The offense was bogged down by various injury issues for much of the early weeks of the season, but as of this weekend the Mariners’ are fully healthy. In the three games the “all-healthy” lineup has played in, the Mariners have scored twenty seven runs.

* * *

The month of May will be a telling one for Oakland. The A’s will face the two best teams in the AL West (The Astros and Mariners), as well as the best team in the NL West (The Diamondbacks), for a total of twelve games. In the middle of all that, the A’s will also embark on a ten-games-in-ten-days road trip against the three best teams in the AL East (The Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays). May was always going to be one of the most important months of the season, as the A’s standing at the end of it will likely dictate how the team behaves during trade-season, as well as how the team handles its top prospects, but May is also, far and away, the most difficult month on the schedule. There will assuredly be tough and frustrating moments ahead, but how the young team responds to adversity will be intriguing to follow. If the A’s can survive May still hanging around .500, or better, setting sights on the playoffs would be the most sensible thing to do.

Finally fully healthy, the Mariners are in the middle of a push for first place in the AL West, surging passed a sputtering Angels team into second. The starting pitching is a mess, but it only stands to get better, and the overachieving of the bullpen have offset most of the starting pitching woes. The offense is finally playing all together as intended and has been fantastic. Many assumed the AL West was written off to the Astros, but the competition against the defending champs is a lot closer than people think.

Game #29: Tuesday, May 1st, 7:10 - NBSCA, ROOTNW,

Andrew Triggs versus Felix Hernandez

There were some murmurings surrounding Triggs and his longevity for the rotation, but the sidewinder responded in his next start by completing six innings for the first time this season while only giving up a single run. Triggs gave up two runs in five innings in his first start against the Mariners this year. The A’s will also have to try solve Felix Hernandez again, whom they beat in his first start against the A’s this year, but only scratched across two runs in six-plus innings.

Game #30: Wednesday, May 2nd, 7:10 - NBCSCA, ROOTNW,

Brett Anderson (probably) versus James Paxton

The team has yet to officially call up the returning A’s lefty, but it seems likely that that Anderson will don the A’s uniform once again this week. Anderson has been carving up AAA batters, possessing a 1.89 ERA and has twenty five strikeouts to just two walks in nineteen innings pitched. He has also yet to give up a home run in AAA. He will be opposed by fellow left-hander James Paxton, who has been the Mariners most consistent, though still unsatisfying, starting pitcher of late.

Game #31: Thursday, May 3rd, 7:10 - NBCSCA, ROOTNW,

Sean Manaea vs Erasmo Ramirez

Manaea has had the best start to a season out of any starting pitcher in baseball, even without his best fastball. The lefty has exceeded all expectations, and has been simply electric on the mound. Erasmo Ramirez has been anything but electric, giving up five home runs in his last start.