Publish date:

3 MARINERS

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP SEATTLE

The Mariners absolutely need to make the playoffs. It'll be a dogfight between them and the Angels.... Everything comes down to Félix Hernández. He can command his stuff and work both sides, but he seemed to lose his command last year.... If James Paxton is healthy, he's a Cy Young--quality lefty, but he's struggled a bit this spring. If he wants to be an ace, you need to see some consistency.... Offensively, it's hard to get better than them, but they need to get more production out of leftfield. Mitch Haniger has a chance to be really good; Ben Gamel had a good year but has no power. I really like Guillermo Heredia now that he's healthy. He can hit.... I'm not crazy about the way he plays, but Robinson Canó's swing is so smooth, he makes the game look easy.... Jean Segura used to be one of my favorite players because he played recklessly. Ever since he's been around Canó, he's been cool. I'm not big on cool players, but he and Canó are a good combo.... Dee Gordon brings a whole new element to the top of the lineup. He'll do fine on the adjustment to centerfield because of his athleticism. He's got a pretty good arm out there.... I'll give you two words why Scott Servais is the manager: GM Jerry Dipoto. If they don't make the playoffs, heads will roll, but the front office will give Servais every opportunity.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

The Mariners have the longest playoff drought in major U.S. sports, stretching back to 2001. Bringing back Ichiro—that season's AL MVP—is a nice bit of karma, but their chance to snap the skein is more about James Paxton's left arm. Paxton has a 3.28 ERA in 422 major league innings, but those innings are scattered over five years, with a high of 136 in 2017. Paxton has never been ineffective in the majors, and at 29, he's never been able to stay healthy in the majors. At his best, as he was last year, Paxton can front the rotation of a playoff team. The Mariners, with a shallow, shaky rotation, need him to stay on the mound for 30 starts and 200 innings to have any chance of breaking their streak. He's the one essential player on this roster.

OVER / UNDER

81

There's enough talent in the lineup to finish over .500, but because of the rotation beyond Paxton and Hernández, a 16-year playoff drought will continue.

THE LINEUP

FANTASY BREAKOUT

1. CENTERFIELD

Dee Gordon

.279 BA/5 HR/45 SB

The three-time SB leader in the NL should see his numbers rise in the AL.

2. SHORTSTOP

Jean Segura

.274 BA/13 HR/25 SB

3. SECOND BASE

Robinson Canó

.282 BA/24 HR/2 SB

4. DH

Nelson Cruz

.266 BA/.515 SLG/34 HR

5. 3RD BASE

Kyle Seager

.267 BA/27 HR/3 SB

6. FIRST BASE

Ryon Healy

.256 BA/.426 SLG/18 HR

7. RIGHTFIELD

Mitch Haniger

.252 BA/20 HR/7 SB

8. CATCHER

Mike Zunino

.220 BA/24 HR/1 SB

9. LEFTFIELD

Ichiro Suzuki

.258 BA/2 HR/3 SB

THE STAFF

1. LH STARTER

James Paxton

12 W/3.54 ERA/1.21 WHP

2. RH STARTER

Félix Hernández

9 W/4.38 ERA/1.36 WHP

3. RH STARTER

Mike Leake

10 W/4.59 ERA/1.36 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Erasmo Ramírez

7 W/4.77 ERA/1.39 WHP

CLOSER

Edwin Díaz

4 W/3.18 ERA/11.6 K9

THE SKIPPER

Scott Servais