BROCK AND SALK

Why Passan is ‘not there yet’ on panicking about Mariners

Apr 9, 2024, 11:32 AM

Seattle Mariners...

Luis Urías of the Seattle Mariners is given the trident on April 6, 2024. (John Fisher/Getty Images)

(John Fisher/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are just 4-7 to open the 2024 season, and in some ways, they’re lucky to have that many wins.

What Servais said about slow starts for Seattle Mariners, Julio and Castillo

The M’s are once again struggling at the plate with strikeouts piling up, and the team’s pitching and defense have also been below-average top start 2024.

How serious of a problem is this for the Mariners?

“I’m not there yet,” ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Tuesday. “We do this every year, guys. Sometimes it’s the Mariners, sometimes it’s other teams that start off really bad. This may be cold comfort, but the fact that they’re 4-7 when everybody on the team but Ty France can’t hit right now is actually a good thing.”

So far, the Mariners have just four regulars with an OPS over .700, and France is the only one with an OPS over .750.

Runs and baserunners have been hard to come by, and the Mariners rank in the bottom-10 in MLB in team ERA. That has resulted in Seattle having the fourth-worst run differential in MLB, lower than even the Oakland A’s. The only three teams with worse run differentials than the Mariners have a combined five wins so far.

“So I look at that and say OK, having four (wins) at this point is better than where they should be,” Passan said.

Hitting will be a big focus for the Mariners in 2024 since the bats’ collective struggle is the biggest reason they missed the playoffs by a single game in 2023. But the Mariners are built on the strength of their pitching, which has underperformed through 11 games.

Passan isn’t too worried about Seattle’s arms.

“If you go and look at the differences between ERA (4.99 for the team) and Fielding Independent Pitching (4.11) … when there’s a big gap between ERA and FIP, that means there’s going to be some positive regression to the mean,” Passan said. “And I believe every Mariners starter has a higher ERA – in Luis Castillo’s case a significantly higher ERA – than his FIP, which means it’s probably going to get better.”

“Ultimately, we know the pitching is going to be good. As long as it’s healthy, the pitching is going to be good,” Passan later said. “The bats just need to figure it out.”

As for the bats, the Mariners struck out the second-most times in MLB last year. This year? They’re No. 1 with a 28.6% strikeout rate, highest in MLB.

“The hitting is an issue because of strikeouts,” Passan said. ” … Everyone needs to figure it out, otherwise this thing’s just gonna spiral and get pretty gnarly.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full conversation with Jeff Passan at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Seattle Mariners Roster Moves: Seven players involved in flurry
• Mariners Notebook: Thoughts on offense, more from the road
• Mariners infielder tests the limits with impossibly slow pitch
‘The time to strike’ is now for Seattle Mariners
• Why it may ‘take a little time’ for Seattle Mariners’ changes at plate

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Why Passan is ‘not there yet’ on panicking about Mariners