Three Things: Kyle Seager’s career year a big part of Mariners’ success
Sep 12, 2016, 11:08 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2016, 9:38 am
The Mariners aren’t dead. In fact, far from it.
They’ve reeled off six straight wins and won seven of their last eight to get back in the thick of the wild-card chase, where they’re just 2 1/2 back of Baltimore for the final playoff spot entering Tuesday. There’s still a lot of good that has to happen for the Mariners to emerge from the crowded race with a postseason berth, but they’ve at least put themselves in position to make something happen with their play over the last week.
Here are three things to consider this week about the Mariners:
1. Seager watch. One thing I’ve personally been keeping an eye on recently are the numbers of Kyle Seager, who is not-so-quietly having the best year of his career – well, maybe not defensively, but certainly at the plate. At the beginning of the season, one of the big questions I had about the Mariners was if Seager had hit his ceiling considering how, over his previous four seasons, he had plateaued to hitting between 20 and 26 home runs and never had an average in the .270s or an OPS in the .800s. Well, that true breakout season has come. Seager has already set a career high with 28 homers, will likely top 100 RBIs for the first time (he’s sitting at 92), and his average (.289) and OPS (.890) are both well above his previous best marks. The trio of Seager, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz was plenty fearful when first paired up in 2015 (more so in the second half than the first considering Cano’s hernia issues), but with Seager’s further improvement, they’ve turned into one of the better middle-of-the-order combinations in all of baseball.
2. Hey, check out this rotation. Last week was pretty much now or never for the Mariners to get their starting rotation on track, and the pitching staff has responded. During the current six-game winning streak, no opponent has managed more than three runs in a game against Seattle, and considering how up and down the starters have been in 2016, that’s a big step in the right direction. The fact that the win streak covers more than a full turn of the rotation is especially important. Every starter on the staff has had his troubles this year save for Hisashi Iwakuma, so that includes Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who all have a few rough starts to their credit after their stints on the disabled list. Their last outings were all good, though, as were those of Iwakuma and rookie Ariel Miranda, who had an impressive scoreless six-inning start in Monday’s win. A week doesn’t write a full story, but it can be a start.
3. Re-Steady Eddie. Rookie closer Edwin Diaz suffered his first blown save on Aug. 30 at Texas, but it felt like a long time coming as he’d been struggling with his command for weeks by then. Ever since, however, he’s looked every bit the phenom who took the team by storm earlier in the year. In 4 1/3 innings over his last five appearances, Diaz has allowed just one hit and no walks, striking out seven and registering four saves to put him at 15 on the year. Whatever adjustments the coaching staff helped him make have paid off handsomely, just in time for when his electric stuff is needed most.