What can the Mariners do in 60 Games?

By: Matthew Zimmer

Former LA Dodgers manage Tommy Lasorda once said “No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

Usually in a baseball season, the quote would equate one-third to 54 games. Obviously, we’ve got a 60-game shortened season. So, based on Lasorda’s math the M’s should win 20 and lose 20, but what will the other 20 games be?

FanGraphs isn’t expecting much. They’ve got the Mariners finishing 24-36, so in the “other 20 games” they think Seattle will go 4-16, ouch.

When talking about MLB’s last second expansion of the 2020 postseason, ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield also took a parting shot at the M’s in his dot-com post ahead of Friday’s full slate of games. “Get ready for that World Series between the 28-32 Mariners and 29-31 Rockies!” At least he has them going to the playoffs…

Opening Day Roster

One thing Seattle appears to have going for it is youth.

Positives/Negatives

The Mariners only have five players on the active roster that are 30 or older. Three players–Dee Gordon, Kyle Seager and newly signed Bryan Shaw–are the oldest players (all 32 years old) at the start the season.

Seattle’s youth makes it really hard to predict what they’ll do in just 60 games. However, I think that makes things better for the M’s.

There isn’t a lot of tape on some of these young guys, like first baseman Evan White. Kyle Lewis hit home runs in six of his first 10 games last year, and he continued to rake in Summer Camp.

Mallex Smith has stolen 86 bases in two seasons as an every day starter. He stole 40 with Tampa in 2018, and then led the American League with 46 in Seattle last year. Also, in case you forgot, Smith started last season on the Injured List (IL) and only played 134 games.

The projected lineup from MLB.com’s Greg Johns looks like this:

Projected lineup | Name | Position | Age on Opening Day
1 | Shed Long Jr. | 2B | 24
2 | Evan White | 1B | 24
3 | Kyle Seager | 3B | 32
4 | Kyle Lewis | RF | 25
5 | José Marmolejos | LF | 27
6 | Austin Nola | C | 30
7 | Daniel Vogelbach | DH | 27
8 | J.P. Crawford | SS | 25
9 | Mallex Smith | CF | 27

The M’s Opening Day lineup was just announced (1:30 p.m. Friday), and the only change was Marmolejos and Vogelbach switched spots in the order, so Vogey fifth and Marmolejos seventh.

The obvious negative for the M’s is a pair of costly injuries. Catcher Tom Murphy broke a bone in his left foot and was placed on the 10-day IL this week.

Meanwhile, stud outfielder Mitch Haniger is expected to miss the season, according to Johns. Last June, Haniger ruptured a testicle when he fouled a pitch off his groin. He also had surgery for a herniated disk in the offseason.

The less obvious negative is the pitching staff. Johns refers to the bullpen as the biggest unknown for Seattle.

First of all, there is no obvious closer for the M’s. Secondly, the M’s had 42 players pitch for them last year, including a few position players. With no minor league season, the non-roster players will be in Tacoma working out throughout the summer.

In early July, manager Scott Servais said the routine in Tacoma will be somewhat similar to how summer camp workouts have been in Seattle. Like, different fundamentals will be focused on each day and up to four intrasquad games per week to help the pitchers reach their innings pitched goals set for them and help position players get good plate appearances.

My Predictions

Sadly, I’m not able to be in Seattle to see the players practice or how they’ve improved. So, I’m subjected to reading beat writers, watching videos on Twitter and using past numbers for my education of the 2020 Seattle Mariners.

I will say, despite the excellent work FanGraphs is known for, I disagree with their projection of the M’s. I’m not going to say they make the 16-team MLB postseason, but I think they’ll be better than 24-36.

Maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m not as smart when it comes to baseball as I think I am, but that’s not going to stop me.

Final record: 29-31 – I think this season is going to be really fluky, for all teams, so the M’s will win games they shouldn’t and lose games they had ninth inning leads in.

Team MVP: Johns went with Kyle Lewis. I’m going to go with J.P. Crawford. His defensive prowess combined with an in-progress ability to get on base (.313 on-base percentage in 2019), I think Crawford could break out in 2020’s short season.

Best Pitcher: Johns picked Kendall Graveman, avoiding the obvious pick in Marco Gonales. I’m also not picking the M’s Opening Day starter. Yusei Kikuchi struggled last year, going just 6-11 with a 5.46 ERA, but with just 60 games he’ll only pitch 12 games if the M’s have a regular five-man rotation. He showed flashes in 2019, so he’s my bold prediction in the pitching department. Another guy to watch will be the youngster, Justus Sheffield.

Bold Prediction: The more I want to hope Seattle can do something, anything positive in the 60-game season the more I find resistance from the “experts”. So, my bold prediction is the Mariners won’t finish last in the AL West.

Baseball is finally back. Don’t miss Seattle Mariners baseball for all 60 games on AM 750 the Game. First pitch for Opening Day is scheduled for 6:10 tonight (Friday, July 24).

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