Even after a tough loss to Boston today, the Mariners find themselves three games over .500 and just three games back on the division lead. Their feeble offense has been covered time and time again by a seemingly excellent pitching staff top to bottom. However, expecting the Ms to finish the rest of season more than three games above .500 – without the help of a shiny new slugger in the lineup – would be a stretch.
Mariners pitching is currently third in the majors with an ERA of 3.69, first in saves with 25, and their bullpen boasts a fourth-best 3.24 ERA. Pretty good, eh? However, stats like ERA and Saves often hide the true, underlying ability. The M’s pitching staff has recorded a 0.281 BABIP, a full 15 points below the league average. While their defense is new and improved, maintaining such a low BABIP the rest of the way is highly improbable. They strand more runners on base than their strikeout numbers and OPS would indicate, and their team ERA is suspiciously low compared to their total runs allowed. In fact, Seattle takes the league’s bronze medal for total errors committed, and seeing how their ERA is lower than expected, we can assume that errors are actually keeping that ERA deceivingly low. Basically, many of the luck indicators that I can measure show that M’s pitchers are leaning toward the fortunate side this season. We should expect that ERA to level out to around 4.00 the rest of the way with about 4.35 total runs allowed per nine innings. These would be fine pitching numbers for most ball clubs, but most ball clubs don’t have to deal with the M’s offense…
On the offensive side, the Ms are eighth worst in OPS, and third worst in runs scored. So not only is their OPS terrible, but they’re even worse at scoring runs (likely a result of too many botched attempts at swiping third in combination with an excessive amount of bunting). With little improvement in sight, I can’t see the Ms scoring more than 4.1 runs per game.
With an expected run differential of -0.25, Seattle is likely to go 36-45 the rest of the way for a less-than-stellar 78-84 record. The biggest help to this team would be a nice big bat right in the middle of that lineup. So let’s go sign another RICHIE SEXSON! Just kidding.