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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

June 13, 2007 at 10:55 AM

Batista or bust

That runaway Mariners Express comes to one of those switches in the track tonight as perpetual six-inning starter Miguel Batista takes the mound looking to toss seven or eight. Sure, he could go six and let Jake Woods finish off the rest. But then Jeff Weaver goes tomorrow, the team might need some long relief, and…well, I know you get the picture because this has been the dominant topic of covnersation the past week.
So, the Mariners are only three games out of first place. Kelvim Escobar struck out 14, but his offense went back to being the Angels and couldn’t score on one of the worst bullpens in the majors. Note that it becomes news when one of the top Angels starters can’t go more than six innings. Interesting to note this was only the second time since early May the Angels had lost two consecutive games. No wonder the Mariners have been so hard-pressed to make up ground. Notice anything else in those two stories I posted? Neither of them mentions the Mariners slowly sneaking up of the AL West leaders. The Los Angeles Times story doesn’t either. I’ve heard of flying under the radar, but usually, the media within a team’s division are dialed-in to what’s going on. Guess it’s been awhile since the good folks in Orange County have seen anything but an Angels-A’s race.
OK, enough hometown gloating for a bit. Let’s get back to being serious. Some of you keep writing in, insisting that it’s OK for a team to have a bunch of six-inning starters. One of you wrote that Batista is on-pace for 200 innings this season, as is Jarrod Washburn, etc.
That’s actually not true. The M’s want Batista to toss 200 innings. In fact, that’s largely what they’re paying him to do. As of right now, he’s on-target for 162 innings. Washburn? On-pace for 187. Felix Hernandez? He’ll get 113 at this clip. Cha Seung Baek? Looking at 139.
Horatio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver combined? They’ll total 153.
So, no. The M’s do not have innings-eaters as we speak. Batista has been on his regular rotation schedule all season and it’s safe to say he’s the guy most off what was projected for him. Hernandez was injured, Baek only joined the staff in late-April. Batista has also spent the past six weeks slowly rebuilding his numbers after a very tough start. He hasn’t lost in nearly a month and has the most potential for upside here. But he has to start showing it by getting into the eighth inning. Logging innings is the biggest asset he brought to the table upon signing that three-year, $25 million deal last winter. He can’t simply settle for being a six-inning guy.
Since Washburn tossed seven innings on May 27, no Seattle starter has gone that deep. Let’s see how the other AL teams with records of .500 or better have fared in that department over the same time period. Remember, this is the number of games in which a starter has gone at least seven innings as of the games played on May 28.
Angels — 7
A’s — 7
Red Sox — 6
Indians — 5
Tigers — 3
Twins — 3
Mariners — 0
How about outings of eight or more innings?
A’s — 3
Red Sox — 3
Angels — 2
Indians — 2
Tigers — 2
Twins — 2
Mariners — 0
And now, let’s look at the won-lost records of those teams during that span:
Mariners — 10-4
Angels — 9-4
A’s — 9-4
Tigers — 8-5
Twins — 6-6
Red Sox — 6-7
Indians — 6-8
So, yes, obviously, the Mariners have been getting away with something for a while. Good on them. But it can’t last forever. Best to take advantage of the good fortune showered on them by the bats and bullpen and get that rotation to start going deeper. Right away, right now. After all, M’s fans want this feeling to last through June and July, don’t they? When’s the last time you had this much fun?



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