ESPN’s Jeff Passan: It’s far too early to worry about Mariners

Apr 4, 2023, 1:00 PM

Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners steals second base on April 1, 2023. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Mariners’ rocky start to the 2023 season continued on Monday with a 7-3 loss to the Angels, meaning Seattle has now lost four in a row after winning on opening day.

Monday: Mariners’ early struggles continue as Ohtani, Angels win opener 7-3

Is it time to panic after a 1-4 start? ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan, who has jokingly been referred to as a “wet blanket” when discussing the Mariners on Seattle Sports in past seasons, explained during his weekly conversation with Brock and Salk why it’s far too early to worry about the M’s.

“I’m not going to be the wet blanket today,” Passan said Tuesday morning. “… No. 1, it’s five games, everyone. They’re gonna play five games again 31 more times. And there are going to be really bad five-games stretches over those 31 other times that they play them, and there are going to be some really good ones. And in the end, if, like, 17 of those 31 are good and 14 aren’t quite as good, it’s a playoff team.”

Passan said it’s easy to “overreact early in the season” and stressed to be reasonable.

“Let’s not draw enormous conclusions from a five-game stretch where they ran into some pretty good pitching with Cleveland – a team that, by the way, won its division last year – and have played one game against the Angels,” he said.

So at what point is it valid to worry about the Mariners and the moves they did or didn’t make this offseason?

“Normally I don’t make judgments until June. I’ll cut it to May 1,” he said. “I think by May 1 the Mariners are going to be just fine – barring injury, mind you.”

Injuries are a valid concern for any team, but especially for a Mariners team that was as healthy as any in baseball last year. The M’s were already dealt a blow over the weekend when Robbie Ray landed on the injured list with a flexor strain.

More from Passan: How concerning flexor injury to Mariners’ Robbie Ray is

“If there is a criticism worth levying, guys, it’s not that they didn’t bring enough big-name players in. It’s a question of just how deep this team goes and whether it can withstand the normal amount of injuries,” Passan said. “And hey, what do you know, they didn’t trade Chris Flexen and now a guy who has been a really productive big league pitcher for the last couple of years can slot right in (Ray’s spot in) your rotation. How about that?”

If there’s any question about how good the Mariners were last year and could be this year, Passan brought up that Astros starter Lance McCullers said during the playoffs last year that the M’s were the toughest team Houston faced on its way to winning the World Series.

“I don’t think anyone else could beat Seattle. They were playing unbelievable,” McCullers told Passan after the Astros won the ALCS last October.

“When you hear that from the champions that ‘You guys were the ones who pushed us most to the limit,'” Passan said Tuesday, “I think that’s all you need to know right there that (the Mariners) belong.”

Passan joins Brock and Salk at 8:30 a.m. every Tuesday during the baseball season on Seattle Sports. Listen to the full interview from this week at this link or in the player below.

Fann: Mariners won’t get benefit of doubt for offseason as offense scuffles early

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