How serious is Mariners’ slump? Observations from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi

May 8, 2022, 10:56 AM | Updated: 5:22 pm
Mariners J.P. Crawford...
J.P. Crawford reacts during after sliding into first base on a groundout against the Rays on Saturday. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It’s safe to say that with such high hopes for this Mariners season, a slump the magnitude of which they’re currently fighting through was not something anyone wanted to see them go through this early in the season.

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto provides update on Kyle Lewis’ timeline

Ahead of Sunday’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Mariners were 12-16 after losing six straight and 10 of their last 11 ballgames (they won in dramatic fashion Sunday to improve to 13-16). It’s been a sharp turn left from where they were less than two weeks ago when they opened a road trip against the same Rays with an 8-4 win to improve to 11-6 on the young season.

Offense has been the main issue, with Seattle scoring at least four runs in only three of those last 11 games. And making matters worse, even when they scored seven runs on Friday night, a game that included an exciting two-run, pinch-hit, go-ahead home run by Jarred Kelenic in the eighth inning, top reliever Paul Sewald then gave up a three-run homer with one out in the ninth, leading to an 8-7 M’s loss.

A day prior to that emotional defeat, baseball insider Jon Morosi of MLB Network joined Seattle Sports Station’s Wyman and Bob for his weekly appearance on the show and delved into the Mariners’ struggles. Listen to the full segment in the podcast at this link or in the player below. After that, we’re break down a few of the bigger points Morosi touched on.

Mariners missing a leader

One person the Mariners have been without throughout essentially their entire slump is Mitch Haniger, a former All-Star who led the team in home runs last season and is their primary cleanup hitter when healthy. Unfortunately for Seattle, Haniger hasn’t been healthy much this season, first missing two weeks on the COVID-19 injured list, then returning for all of one at-bat (a single) during which he suffered a high-ankle sprain. He’s been reported to be wearing a boot to protect the injury and there has been no word of when he may return.

Morosi spoke about the possible impact of missing Haniger, who has been vocal about wanting to lead the M’s to the playoffs.

“I realize he wasn’t off to a great start, but we talked about this a lot in spring training about how young this group is and how Mitch Haniger is sort of the player that keeps everything in harmony,” Morosi said. “He is the link of that lineup… so when when you miss that veteran on what is already a young team, you’ve got guys like (Jesse) Winker who are coming in trying to make a big impression on his new city, and then you have the two young guys in the outfield (Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez), there are a lot of people now that you can tell are just kind of searching for it.”

Morosi wonders if Haniger’s absence is causing the younger players being asked to shoulder more of the offensive load to press.

“They want so badly to succeed,” he said. “… Baseball is the one sport guys where you can’t play better by trying harder, and often it’s the worst thing to do. I think this is where the youth of this team and not having Haniger in the lineup I think shows up a little bit.”

Is offense just a Seattle problem?

The Mariners went into Sunday averaging 4.14 runs per game, which is 0.06 more than the current league average, but the number was that high only because of what Seattle did before its current skid. That being said, the M’s aren’t the only team searching for more production out of a lineup.

“I’ve been traveling a lot,” said Morosi, who serves as a reporter on FOX MLB broadcasts in addition to his MLB Network duties. “I’ve been in a number of different ballparks this season. A lot of teams need offense. A lot of teams are short on offense. We’re seeing a lot of low scoring games. Is it the weather? Is it the ball? Is it the shifting? Is it the quality of defense?”

There’s one reason the Mariners may be struggling more than other teams, though.

“A lot of things are working against hitters right now, but I also think that the Mariners are a team that is quite susceptible to the swing and miss. You’ve got three players who already have more than 30 strikeouts – (Eugenio) Suárez, Rodríguez and Kelenic – and there’s a lot of swing and miss in this lineup right now. So when you can’t really bring in the situational runs and have those really key at-bats late in the game when you’re losing close games, it can start to wear on you.”

The division

The previous time Morosi was on Seattle Sports for his weekly visit, he spoke at length about how the Los Angeles Angels are proving to be a real contender in the American League West in a year where the Mariners were hoping to leap over the Houston Astros. The Angels have stayed on pace, sitting at 19-11 after another win Sunday, while the Astros aren’t going away at 18-11 thanks in part to a sweep of the M’s earlier this week.

How concerned is Morosi for the Mariners’ chances to make a run in the division based on the first month of play?

“The Angels have impressed me more than the Mariners have disappointed me,” he said. “I think that the Angels, they’re just that much (more) of a better team than I thought. And if you want to say I’m sounding the alarm for Seattle fans, maybe I am because I think the Angels are really good. I just think Seattle needs to get a little bit of a jolt. One or two guys going in the lineup and it’s a very different story.”

You can hear Morosi each Thursday on Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, which airs Monday through Friday from 2-7 p.m.

Drayer: Mariners’ Kelenic is scuffling, but still in good place to take step forward

Date Starting Pitcher
Saturday, May 28 @ 7:10 pm

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Chance Light Rain
High 60° | Low 51°
Roof is open
Astros at Mariners today at 7:10pm

Wyman & Bob

Wyman and Bob

Mariners Ty France...
Brandon Gustafson

Morosi: Why a Mariners-Ty France extension isn’t as simple as it’d seem

Should the Mariners lock up star 1B Ty France? MLB insider Jon Morosi explained why France is in a tough spot to earn a long-term deal.
1 day ago
Mariners Servais...
Brent Stecker

Mariners Breakdown: What’s going on? Bob Stelton on biggest concerns

Bob Stelton of Seattle Sports' Wyman and Bob reacts to the state of the Mariners after their devastating four-game sweep at the hands of Boston.
5 days ago
Seahawks Bobby Wagner...
Mike Lefko

With Seahawks betting on youth, LBs face steepest learning curve

The one position in the Seahawks' defense that hasn't added much is linebacker, even with Bobby Wagner's departure after being cut.
5 days ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger Kyle Seager...
Brandon Gustafson

Morosi: Mariners’ lineup missing veteran leadership, path forward tough because of Angels

MLB insider Jon Morosi explained where the Mariners stand currently to Wyman & Bob and why their path forward is a tough one.
7 days ago
Mariners Penn Murfee...
Brandon Gustafson

Do Mariners have another Paul Sewald on their hands with Penn Murfee?

Penn Murfee is the latest surprising star reliever for the Mariners and Mike Blowers wonders what the Mariners may have with the rookie.
10 days ago
Mariners Jesse Winker...
Brandon Gustafson

Mariners’ Jesse Winker: His weird start to season, fun with Mets fans

Luck hasn't seemingly been on new Mariners OF Jesse Winker's side this season. He discussed that and his fun feud with Mets fans on Wyman and Bob.
11 days ago
How serious is Mariners’ slump? Observations from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi