Mariners Notebook: Juan Then update, high K numbers, more

May 5, 2023, 4:48 PM

Seatle Mariners Juan Then...

Juan Then of the Seattle Mariners looks on in a spring training game on Feb. 24, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are back at home after wrapping up a 5-4 road trip and they take on the reigning World Series champions, the Houston Astros, who knocked off the M’s in the ALDS to end the team’s season last year.

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The last time these two teams faced off, the Astros won an 18-inning marathon 1-0. Now? Neither 2022 playoff team has found its footing with the Astros at 16-15 and the Mariners at 15-16.

“A club that we’re very familiar with is in town, so we’re looking forward to it,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said ahead of Friday’s series opener.

Seattle Mariners lineup

Julio Rodríguez, CF
Ty France, 1B
Jarred Kelenic, LF
Eugenio Suárez, 3B
Cal Raleigh, C
Teoscar Hernández, RF
J.P. Crawford, SS
Taylor Trammell, DH
Kolten Wong, 2B

Luis Castillo, SP

Houston Astros

Mauricio Dubón, 2B
Alex Bregman, 3B
Yordan Alvarez, DH
José Abreu, 1B
Kyle Tucker, RF
Jeremy Peña, SS
Corey Julks, LF
Jake Meyers, CF
Martín Maldonado, C

Cristian Javier, SP

Mariners Notes:

• Juan Then, a hard-throwing Mariners pitching prospect who has yet to make his MLB debut but is on the 40-man roster, was in Seattle’s clubhouse prior to Friday’s game with a locker and jersey. But currently, there’s been no corresponsing move to add him to the Mariners’ 26-man roster.

“There isn’t a roster move or  update or anything yet. There is potential, maybe could have been, but nothing has been decided yet,” Servais said. “So we’ll let you know as soon as it is official.”

Then has pitched nine innings in seven appearances for Double-A Arkansas this season. He has struck out 11 batters while walking three with a 5.00 ERA.

• The Mariners have a mantra of controlling or dominating the strike zone.

On the mound, they’ve been excellent at that. At the plate, not so much.

Entering Friday’s game, the Mariners have the fourth-most strikeouts in MLB and are striking out nearly 10 times per game.

“Our strikeout numbers are extremely high,” Servais said prior to the game.

Servais noted that some players in Seattle’s lineup traditionally do have high strikeout numbers, but they also have “big reward” potential in terms of home runs and such.

Servais said part of the issue has been expanding the zone and not just with two strikes. Additionally, he thinks some Mariners hitters may be trying to do too much or are swinging too hard at the plate right now.

“I think the biggest thing for us that I noticed here probably the last week or so is our effort level,” Servais said. ” … We have too much volume. The volume number is up to 10 and we need to be swinging at about seven volume or 70%, especially when guys are in scoring position. When teams are struggling to score runs — our team or any team — (players) want to be the guy. They want to be the guy to get it done, so ‘I’m gonna go hard and I get my pitch and I’m gonna swing out of my whatever and make sure I get it done.’ And then you foul a pitch off or you swing at a pitch that maybe you shouldn’t be swinging at.”

Servais pointed out one player, which is Teoscar Hernandez.

Hernandez has struck out 45 times already this year, and Servais thought his 1-for-3 day on Thursday may have been the best game he’s played so far. He added that the Mariners’ “Rake Report” numbers backed up that assessment.

“These are things that our players are talking amongst themselves, with our hitting coaches that we need to slow it down a little bit, we need to have a little bit less effort when we get in the box,” he said. “And if we do that, we will be more consistent.”

-Friday marks the on-field debut of the Mariners’ City Connect uniforms, which will be the team’s Friday home game unis for the remainder of the 2023 season.

The uniforms are blue and gold, the pants are black with gold piping and the hats are blue with a black bill.

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Mariners Notebook: Juan Then update, high K numbers, more