Table Setter: Kyle Seager’s bat has actually been invaluable for Mariners
It looks like the 2018 Seatle Mariners as we know them are back.
The Mariners will put their seven-game win streak on the line when they return to the field Tuesday against a reeling Los Angeles Angels team that has lost seven out of nine. Even more important, the Mariners are right on the heels of the defending champion Houston Astros, just a half-game back for the American League West lead.
Seattle shook off rough trips to New York and Boston, promptly sweeping away the two worst teams in baseball, Baltimore and Kansas City, to put together their best winning streak of the entire season. Just like that, all is right back at the Safe.
Here are three things to keep in mind this week about the Mariners.
Kyle Seager is a productive member of this baseball team.
Specifically with the bat. And no, I am not joking.
Yes, the man I’ve been trying to get the nickname Night Moves going for years (no Silver Bullet Band fans in Seattle or what?) is hitting .232 and his on-base percentage needs some work just to get to .300. But low averages don’t tell the whole story.
First of all, day in and day out you can pretty much count on Seager to be in the lineup. In fact, right now he’s nursing a fractured big toe and didn’t miss a single game (though he did miss a start) after getting the diagnosis.
The key point I want to make, though, is that Seager has been taking care of business when given the opportunity in the batter’s box to make an impact. He still has 15 home runs and 49 RBIs, putting him on pace to be near the 30-homer, 100-RBI mark. And on top of that, he leads the entire team in extra base hits.
Not Mitch Haniger. Not Nelson Cruz.
The man deserves some credit for that, as well as for showing an ability to find holes in the shift with two hits into the right field corner on Sunday (perhaps a sign of things to come).
And lest we forget he’s playing out of his mind on defense and wouldn’t be a bad choice to win a second Gold Glove this year. When you’re getting defense like that at third, there’s not much reason to complain about a sub-.800 OPS.
Seager is going to be a crucial part of this team as it tries to end its long postseason drought, and I’d bet on the lefty-swinging third baseman coming through in the clutch a few times down the stretch… “with autumn closing in.”
— Mariners (@Mariners) June 28, 2018
It’s July, which means the trade deadline is coming into view. Think Jerry Dipoto has any plans?
Yeah, I think so too.
The hot goss of late has been the possibility of the Mariners making a run at Texas lefty Cole Hamels, a four-time All-Star. Would he look good in the rotation? You bet he would. Should the Mariners do all they possibly can to get him? Maybe not.
Not saying the Mariners shouldn’t add Hamels (or the potentially cheaper alternative of former Mariners southpaw J.A. Happ), but I’m not sure that adding a rental to the rotation will make all that much of a difference.
Seattle is in a great spot right now to make the postseason. Is has a commanding lead for the second wild card spot out of the American League, and the focus should be shifting soon to how the Mariners can win a one-game playoff in Boston or New York and get into the Division Series. The Mariners already have the guy they’ll want on the mound in that Wild Card round – James Paxton – so they should add some insurance in case Paxton runs into trouble in that game (like he already has against the Yankees and Red Sox this year).
That’s right, I’m talkin’ bullpen.
MLB Network host Greg Amsinger recently mentioned the name of Rockies right-hander Adam Ottavino as a potential trade target for the Mariners on Bob, Groz and Tom. That would work. So would Orioles closer Zach Britton, a two-time All-Star trying to find his bearings after missing a good chunk of the season recovering from Achilles surgery.
The 30-year-old Britton has a 6.23 ERA in nine appearances (thanks in part to the Mariners handing him a blown save last week – that’s him pitching in the Seager home run video above), but he also rejoined a Baltimore team in total disarray. Maybe going to a contender will be the shot in the arm he needs, and at this point his lowered trade value should make him even more attractive to Seattle.
A quality left-handed arm is something the Mariners could use with James Pazos the lone southpaw in the back end of the pen right now, and putting Britton on top of the current combination of Alex Colomé, Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent and Pazos that is serving as the bridge to Edwin Díaz sure looks like something a playoff team would want to have.
Compared to the disaster of 2017, the health of the Mariners’ starting rotation has been absolutely remarkable. James Paxton, Félix Hernández, Mike Leake and Marco Gonzales have made all of their starts, as has Wade LeBlanc after being the latest addition to the group in May.
But now it’s time to keep an eye on Félix.
The veteran right-hander was ailing in his start against Kansas City on Saturday with a back issue, lasting just five innings and 81 pitches before handing the ball over to the bullpen to hold back the Royals’ offense in a 6-4 win.
Félix didn’t look great out of the gates in that game, giving up hits to the first four batters, including a three-run homer to Mike Moustakas. It was a bit disappointing after he was good more than bad throughout June, and knowing that he has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons, it is more than reasonable to wonder if he’ll need a DL stint to get right again.
On second thought, maybe Dipoto should give the Rangers that call about Hamels.