Is change needed? Dipoto addresses Mariners’ hitting struggles

Apr 20, 2023, 10:52 AM | Updated: 2:07 pm

Seattle Mariners Kolten Wong...

Kolten Wong of the Seattle Mariners reacts after striking out on April 18, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners find themselves three games under .500 at 8-11 heading into a weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals, and after being swept at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers, much of the focus is falling on the M’s lineup.

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While Seattle is 17th in runs scored this year, the Mariners are 24th in baseball in OPS and have yet to find their home run groove, ranking 20th in that category entering their an off day Thursday.

So what’s gone wrong for the Mariners at the plate so far? As you can imagine, that was a topic on this week’s Jerry Dipoto Show in the M’s president of baseball operations’ weekly interview with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“Just finding consistency. It’s been a little bit of an up and down start to our season,” he said. “In a three-week season, the last two weeks, we’re playing about as middle of the pack as you can play.”

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Dipoto said a few times in the conversation that there are some positive signs from the team’s hitters, especially the top six batters in the lineup, but that things are too “uneven” right now.

“We’ve got a number of guys off to very good starts, and then a number of guys who just aren’t contributing much at all. And somewhere we need to find a better balance,” he said, later adding, “We just need to build that bridge from the top six to the bottom to consistently churn. Our run scoring has been very ordinary. We’ve been average, which is kind of where we were last year. And we do feel like if we can build that bridge and really get guys going, it stands to be a very good offensive club. We just have to get to that point.”

Dipoto: Pitching not the issue

After a tough start to the year, the Mariners have turned things around in a big way on the pitching side of things, which Dipoto is more than pleased with.

“The pitching has been everything we could hope for. The offense, we’ve played about middle of the pack,” he said. “We’ve been an average offense.”

The Mariners have lost a number of close contests late, including all four of their extra-inning games. Dipoto said that the team has struggled with situational offense.

“That’s been a bit of an issue in the times years past when we’ve struggled, and it continues to be an issue with this club is the consistency of getting the runner over and getting the runner in,” Dipoto said. “I think that’s what’s really getting us in the late innings and the extra innings is the inability to consistently do that … We’re not consistently doing the things that the good teams do in those late innings.”

Are the Seattle Mariners a bat short?

Dipoto was candid when asked if the Mariners have enough firepower on offense right now.

“No, not the way we’re swinging the bat. I think there’s a hole,” Dipoto said. “We consistently wind up in a position where we have players that have not gotten off to good starts and the wheel is landing on their spot in the order with an opportunity to do damage. It’s hard on players when that’s happening. And the answer to the question of how do you solve it is you wait it out, because these are good major league players who have performed in their careers … We’re not the only team that has gone through this type of struggle, and won’t be the last in the early part of the season. We just have to we have to grin and bear it and get through it.”

Where the Mariners could look if they decide to trade for a bat

Dipoto was asked at which point a small sample size turns into a big enough one to start to re-evaluate things. That led to his response regarding a potential roster shakeup.

“I don’t think it’s fair to point the finger at April 20 and say, ‘We need to go fix this.’ We have good players, and we believe in the group that we have,” he said. “But we are getting to the point with some of the struggles that perhaps like we did in our bullpen, giving guys like (Justin) Topa and (Gabe) Speier an opportunity, perhaps it’s time to give somebody an opportunity and see what they can do.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. every Thursday during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Find podcasts of the show at this link, and listen to this week’s edition in the player below.

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