ESPN’s Jayson Stark: Health, not a trade, will be biggest factor for Mariners’ playoff hopes

Jun 28, 2016, 1:33 PM | Updated: 1:40 pm

The Mariners have looked like a different team over their past 30 games, going 10-20 after starting the season with a 28-18 record. Despite the recent swoon, which has coincided with multiple injuries to the starting rotation, Seattle is still in the playoff picture, entering Tuesday just 2 1/2 games out of the second American League Wild Card berth.

With the M’s in the race but trending downward, it’s conceivable to think a move before the Aug. 1 trade deadline could be on the horizon for them – whether it’s as a buyer or a seller. ESPN senior baseball writer Jayson Stark thinks patience should be exercised while the pitching staff gets healthy, though, as he told “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday.

“I think if they look at their team right now, they see a scenario where they’re healthier in a few weeks than they are now, and at 2 1/2 games out of the Wild Card, there’s no reason to sell, I don’t think,” Stark said. “I don’t know if they can do anything in the next four weeks that makes it more likely that they win the World Series this year other than get their pitching healthy, because that’s their ticket.

“I still don’t think it’s out of the question that they make a run in the second half and make a run in October, but health is the No. 1 factor in that, not the move they make in July.”

Related: Mariners’ losing streak is over, but are they back to form?

The logic made by Stark is easy to follow, considering how well the Mariners did until Felix Hernandez and Wade Miley both hit the disabled list in the last month, and how bad they’ve performed in their absence. They were in first place of the American League West as late as May 28, even ahead of the Texas Rangers, who have since become the first major league team to reach 50 wins this season.

“Do they know what they are or who they are? How could you? 28-18 and then 10-20 – that’s two different teams,” Stark said. “The 10-20 happened to come at a time when the rotation got crushed with injuries … and the ripple effect of that is not enough innings, which just throws the whole thing out of whack.”

Another reason for Seattle to be patient: Making a move before Aug. 1 is not as urgent as everybody thinks. Even though it’s a deadline, it’s the non-waiver trade deadline, meaning trades involving players that clear waivers can still be made afterwards.

Stark believes it’s during that period that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto can best make an acquisition that will help this year’s team without taking away from Seattle’s long-term plan.

“They don’t feel like they have to make a trade just because you think they should, and I think they should, and the fans think they should,” Stark said. “There’s a lot of pressure to do something just to do it between now and the deadline, and I think the really good GMs understand you don’t have to. That unless it’s a significant move, you can make it in August. You can get somebody for a lot less cost in August if you’re buying.

“You can’t, over the next four weeks given their place in the standings, think ‘We’re going to overpay for some short-term addition to try to get into the Wild Card game.’ You have to think about the urgency to win now in realistic terms. That’s my word for the day – realism. That’s the way they have to go about it over the next few weeks.”

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