As the calendar turns to August, the baseball season is down to a mere two months. What looked like was going to be a stellar 2017 for the Seattle Mariners has been waylaid by injuries. Yesterday, we learned of the latest victim: a second trip to the DL for Felix Hernandez. We know for a fact that Drew Smyly won’t be pitching this season, and it seems like Hisashi Iwakuma will not return this season either. The Mariners are only 1.5 games back of the final Wild Card, the Kansas City Royals. But, is this latest injury one injury too many for the Seattle Mariners to overcome?
The rotation has been beat up, to say the least. Besides the injuries, Yovani Gallardo has struggled this season, to the point Scott Servais moved him to long relief. Gallardo has been better in his three starts since his return to the rotation, including a 3-2 win over the New York Mets outdueling Jacob deGrom, and the Mariners will need the veteran to produce for the stretch run. James Paxton has single handedly kept the rotation afloat, winning his last seven starts including all six of his starts in July.
The Mariners pretty much stood pat at the trading deadline, since this roster has been hard to judge because of the massive amount of injuries. They add two starting pitchers, Marco Gonzales and Erasmo Ramirez, and a reliever, David Phelps. Gonzales and Ramirez will be on display today in a pivotal double header in Kansas City. A sweep, and the Mariners will jump the Royals in the standings. It won’t be easy; I imagine Servais will lean heavy on the bullpen today with Gonzales making his second start of 2017 and first with the Mariners and Ramirez still be stretched into starting after Tampa Bay moved him out of the rotation and into long relief. The rotation for now will be Paxton, Gallardo, Gonzales, Ramirez, and either Andrew Moore or Sam Gaviglio, depending which pitcher gets called up from Tacoma.
The August schedule, where the Mariners need to stay in this playoff race, can be summed up as such: away from home. After the Mariners finish their series with the Royals, then they go to Oakland to complete a nine-game road trip. They go home for seven, then will finish August on the road with a twelve-game Eastern road swing through two teams ahead of them in the standings, the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays, along with stops in Baltimore and Atlanta. Once again with a patchwork rotation, can the Mariners keep up? This team has shown resiliency all season while losing pitchers and key offensive players alike. Losing Felix is a blow, but if the Mariners can get strong outings from their young pitchers, this team can stay in the race and hopefully snap their long playoff drought.