JIM MOORE

Moore: Root for Mariners’ young players to do well — and lose enough to get No. 1 overall pick

Aug 17, 2020, 9:34 AM | Updated: 9:39 am
Mariners Kyle Lewis...
The Mariners have had bright spots despite a 7-16 record. (Getty)
(Getty)

Boy Howdy tweeted something last week about wanting the Mariners’ young players to play well but also hoping the Mariners would lose more often than not so they could improve their draft position in 2021.

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This is exactly how every Mariners’ fan should feel about this 60-game season. Shoot for the stars when it comes to losing one game after another – and there have been five in a row now – because it improves their chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick.

That No. 1 pick is expected to be Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker, who looks like an ace in waiting. And even if he’s not, adding Rocker to an assembly line of promising starters that includes George Kirby, Emerson Hancock, Logan Gilbert, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn further upgrades the rotation of the future.

Other than Rocker’s teammate, Jake Leiter, another pitcher and the son of former MLB lefty Al Leiter, I haven’t seen others who project as the No. 2 pick, and I don’t care about the No. 2 pick anyway. When I think of No. 2 picks, I think of Dustin Ackley in 2009.

The Mariners could have had the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft if they had tanked in their final weekend series against the A’s in 2008, but they won all three, allowing the Washington Nationals to finish with the worst MLB record and the right to draft Stephen Strasburg, who has become one of the best starters in the big leagues. He pitched for a World Series championship team last year while Ackley is currently a free agent and probably out of baseball for good.

So I don’t want a repeat of that scenario 11 years later. Go ahead and root for Kyle Lewis, Evan White and J.P. Crawford along with Sheffield and Dunn. Same goes for Shed Long and some of the relievers – any of the young guys who factor into the future core of playoff-contending teams.

Saturday night when White hit a long home run, terrific! Everyone’s pulling for that kid to snap out of his slump. And it was perfect for the 2021 draft too – the Mariners lost 2-1.

And Sunday in Houston we saw Sheffield turn in his second consecutive quality start. That worked out well too – the Mariners lost 3-2.

The five-game losing streak should extend to nine by Thursday after the Mariners play the Dodgers in a four-game series, two in Los Angeles, two in Seattle. The downward trend needs to pick up some pace because the Pirates, at 4-14, are fighting hard to get that No. 1 spot and currently hold a 2 1/2-game lead over the 7-16 Mariners. The Red Sox are also irritating, sitting a half-game behind – or ahead, depending on how you look at it – of the Mariners at 6-16.

This line of thinking counters how we typically watch and appreciate sports, wanting the home team to win. But that makes little sense now.

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Moore: Root for Mariners’ young players to do well — and lose enough to get No. 1 overall pick