JIM MOORE

Moore: The good, bad and ugly through Mariners’ first 11 games

Aug 4, 2020, 10:55 AM
Mariners Kyle Lewis...
Kyle Lewis leads the majors in hits but also leads the Mariners in strikeouts. (Getty)
(Getty)

While watching the Mariners, you have to keep reminding yourself that it’s all about the young kids and the future.

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You can’t get caught up into thinking that Bryan Shaw is the worst reliever you’ve ever seen – he won’t be on the team when it’s supposed to be a playoff contender sometime this decade. And I guess I could have put quotes around “supposed to be” and “sometime this decade” because frequently it feels like neither of which will ever happen.

Then again, this is probably how it felt in Houston when the Astros were losing 100-plus games before they became the juggernaut they are now.

I try to focus on players you know are key guys in the future: Kyle Lewis, Evan White, J.P. Crawford, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn.

I’m also keeping a close eye on players who could be factors in the future: Yusei Kikuchi, Shed Long, Taijuan Walker and my sleeper, Yohan Ramirez.

I’m no doubt missing a handful who project better than I think they do, but most of the rest won’t play significant roles in the future so if they’re good or bad now, it doesn’t matter that much in the scheme of things.

With that, let’s look at some of the highs and the lows through 11 games while trying (and failing?) to keep things in perspective:

THE BRIGHT SIDE

• Kyle Lewis’ bat: With 17 hits in his first 10 games and power to all fields, Lewis is a possible superstar in the making. All he needs is for Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez to hurry up and join him in the outfield.

• Yusei Kikuchi: After a 2019 season when he didn’t come close to meeting expectations, Kikuchi looked like an ace Saturday night against the A’s with a 97-mph fastball and great command.

• Evan White’s defense: A certain Gold Glover if his bat can come around to keep him in the lineup. The Mariners think it will, giving him a six-year, $24 million contract in the offseason even though he’d never had an at-bat above Class AA until now.

• Taijuan Walker: Turns 28 on Aug. 13, so he’s young enough to be a candidate for the future rotation, especially if he pitches the way he did Friday night against the A’s, allowing one hit in seven innings while striking out eight.

• J.P. Crawford: Making things happen as a leadoff hitter and playing well at short. Also delivering in the clutch.

• Yohan Ramirez: I love this kid. Terrific fastball, and I get it, he’s a little wild, but could be a fixture in the bullpen with his stuff. Flat out fun to watch.

THE DARK SIDE

• White’s bat: Just 11 games in, but he’s 5 for 40 and has struck out a whopping 18 times. Looks overmatched at times. Brent Stecker, my editor at 710Sports.com, tweeted that White looks like he needs a day off. Hey, Brent, you’re right, he does, but after only 11 games in a 60-game season? Grind it out, kid.

• Lewis’ strikeouts: He leads the team with 19, but I guess that’s typical of a power hitter.

• Shed Long’s so-so play: Impossible thus far to judge how good he’ll be in the future, but it sure is easy to root for a guy who plays with white glasses, chains and pine tar smeared all over his helmet.

NOT WORTH NOTING BUT I WILL ANYWAY

• Daniel Vogelbach: How does an All-Star designated hitter/first baseman one season turn into what he is now? He looks so lost at the plate, I’m starting to feel bad for him. He looks like Jesús Montero.

• Bryan Shaw: Acquired by the Mariners just before the season started, he was supposed to bring veteran experience to a bullpen that needed it, but he’s been a batting practice pitcher. It’s hard to believe it’s the same guy the Rockies gave him a $27 million contract to three years ago. Will likely be released by Thursday.

• Mallex Smith: I love the person, but I don’t need to watch him play for the Mariners anymore.

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Moore: The good, bad and ugly through Mariners’ first 11 games