Dave Sims: What makes Mariners’ 1st half an ‘outstanding accomplishment’

Jun 30, 2021, 2:53 PM | Updated: 8:34 pm
Mariners Yusei Kikuchi...
Yusei Kikuchi has been the Mariners' best starting pitcher over the first half. (Getty)

On Wednesday, the Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays in their 81st game of the 162-game MLB season, making now a great time to take stock of what the team has done so far.

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Considering the M’s came out of the matchup with a 42-39 record, reaching the midway point with a record three games above .500, you have to say it’s been more good than bad for Seattle.

That’s certainly the way Mariners play-by-play announcer Dave Sims is taking it, as he told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Wednesday afternoon.

Asked how the M’s have measured up to his expectations for the first half of 2021, Sims didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“This is easy – exceeded,” Sims said. “Man, I’ll be honest with you – super young team, inexperience – my expectations were low and they have over-delivered in a plentiful way. I think it’s outstanding what they have accomplished.”

A big reason why, Sims said, is how the Mariners have weathered a storm that has resulted in a staggering 52 players appearing in games – a remarkable number considering MLB’s active rosters allow for just 26 players at a time.

“(They’ve used) 52 guys, multiple injuries, (James) Paxton done after 24 pitches, revolving door in the bullpen – and for the most part those cats have been outstanding,” Sims said. “Just enough hitting with runners in scoring position… Defense has been solid, the emergence of J.P. Crawford this month. Hey man, I’m enjoying the ride. To be over .500 at this stage in this division, it’s an outstanding accomplishment. It really is.”

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When the topic of the Mariners’ most valuable player through their first 80 games came up, Sims had three players come to mind.

“Being prisoner of the moment, I’d say J.P., but you also have to consider (Yusei) Kikuchi, what he’s done to figure some things out, and (Chris) Flexen. You didn’t know what to expect and for the most part he’s been really good… He competes like heck.”

Crawford has had a great month of June with a slash line of .343/.395/.520 (.914 OPS), and is sitting at .281/.341/.396 (.737) and a 2.8 WAR for the season. The reigning American League Gold Glove winner at shortstop has also continued to play stellar defense.

Kikuchi has himself in the All-Star conversation with a 5-3 record, 3.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 1.8 WAR, and 10 quality starts in 14 games.

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Flexen, who signed as a free agent with Seattle in the offseason after spending 2020 playing in Korea, is 6-3 with a 3.97 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 0.8 WAR and six quality starts in 14 games.

Torrens’ tear

Catcher Luis Torrens has been one of the Mariners’ best hitters since returning in mid-June from a demotion to Triple-A Tacoma. In nine games this month, Torrens is hitting .300 with five home runs, a double, three walks, and a 1.197 OPS.

Sims shared what he’s seen from Torrens’ bat lately.

“It seems like he’s been more aggressive. I love how he hit that high pitch the other day opposite field for a home run,” Sims said.

“I think he’s a lot less tentative at the plate right now. The other thing’s gotta be pitch selection. He’s looking for zoning up some stuff, and if he gets it he’s gonna hammer it, and you gotta like that. I’m not expecting him to turn into Johnny Bench or somebody like that, but if he can hit .235, .250, .260 especially in this day and age, a catcher hitting that well (would be) extraordinary.”

You can listen to Sims’ full conversation with Stacy Rost and guest host Curtis Rogers in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Dave Sims: What makes Mariners’ 1st half an ‘outstanding accomplishment’