Three things: Who is picking up the slack for the Mariners?
Jun 1, 2016, 1:28 PM
Everything started well for the Mariners this week, as they shook off three weekend losses to the Twins by pounding the Padres a combined 25-7 in back-to-back wins to close out their homestand and finish with 30 wins before June for the first time since 2013.
A new question appeared late Tuesday afternoon, though. That is where we start our weekly three things to watch with the Mariners:
1. What’s up with Felix?
James Paxton was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night for Triple-A Tacoma, starting up the rumor mill about why. The reason was revealed Wednesday morning: Felix Hernandez has a right calf strain that requires time on the 15-day disabled list, and Paxton was promoted to take his spot in the rotation, including the start Wednesday night in San Diego. Hernandez has been strong this season, but he hasn’t quite looked like the perennial Cy Young candidate Mariners fans are used to — especially not in his last outing in which he gave up six runs in six innings in a loss to Minnesota. With the DL move retroactive to May 28, he’s only expected to miss a couple starts. Will he be back to his old self when he returns, or is this a sign of more issues to come for the 30-year-old righty after eight straight years of 200-plus innings?
2. Who’s picking up the slack?
The Mariners have embraced the “A New Hero Every Night” slogan, and that philosophy has certainly been needed ever since Leonys Martin joined Ketel Marte on the disabled list last week. The loss of the Mariners’ two biggest rally starters definitely appeared to have an effect in the Twins series, but the offense figured things out against the Padres. Kyle Seager homered in both those wins over San Diego, and Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, Adam Lind, Dae-Ho Lee and Franklin Gutierrez all chipped in, as well. Marte should be back early next week, and Martin isn’t expected to be far behind, but until then, will Seattle continue to get production up and down the lineup to make up for their absences?
3. Home sweet … road?
Seattle treaded water on its homestand, going an even 4-4 before heading back out on a five-game road trip. Oddly enough, that was pretty good news. The Mariners are 12-14 at Safeco Field this season, so a .500 showing over three series was an improvement. Meanwhile they’ve been on fire when away from Seattle, posting an 18-7 record as of Wednesday’s opener in San Diego. Starting the day a half-game behind Texas, the Mariners are in prime position to move back into first place in the AL West if their road success continues.