With teams trying to find their footing in the first month of the season, finding depth is crucial to long-term success. The Seattle Mariners have watched a deep pitching staff get depleted by injury after injury, yet keep finding strong arms to step in.
Despite being without last year’s breakout star Hiwashi Iwakuma, as well as top prospect Taijuan Walker and stalwart Blake Beavan, the Mariners staff has endured behind relative unknowns like Sunday’s starter Brandon Maurer, who threw a strong 4.1 innings against Miami. Maurer, who had never started above Double-A, gave up only one run and two hits while striking out four on 63 pitches.
James Paxton also started out strong for Seattle, with a beautiful seven inning performance against the Los Angeles Angels on April 2nd before also falling prey to the injury bug. Roenis Elias has mixed together strong starts with weak ones. A 6.2 inning, one run outing against Texas was followed by a four run, five walk start against Miami. Erasmo Ramirez has fallen apart in his last three starts after a sparkling first start against the Angels. In his latest outing versus Texas, he failed to get out of the third inning.
The Mariners pitchers are mostly being let down by a lineup that is failing to produce. Seattle is currently 23rd in the league in runs and 29th in batting average, with Kyle Seager (.158) and Brad Miller (.194) being the lead culprits. The Mariners also expected more out of offseason acquisition Logan Morrison (.150 with no home runs).
Down at Triple-A Tacoma, Anthony Fernandez has 19 strikeouts in just 14.1 innings, but leads the team with eight walks. Jordan Pries fired a sensational six innings on Sunday versus Sacramento, giving up just one hit and striking out two. This comes after a good recovery start for Andrew Carraway, who gave up just one run in six innings against Salt Lake after getting shelled in his previous start versus Albuquerque.
Stephen Landazuri has been nothing short of astounding for Double-A Jackson, striking out 21 in 18 innings for the Generals. The 22-year old has starred in his first three starts at Double-A after striking out 115 in 116 innings for High Desert in Advanced-A Ball last season.
Once the Mariners lineup gets back on track, Seattle will have the pitching staff to stay competitive in the AL West this season.