For a pitcher who dominates more and more as the years go on, future hall-of-famer (in my humble opinion) Felix Hernandez is the type of pitcher lacking in Toronto since Roy Halladay left. 1.90 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP are elite pitcher numbers and also the lowest of Hernandez’s career. Unfortunately for the Mariners he is but one man…oh wait. That was last year around May. This year he is joined by Japanese wunderkind Hisashi Iwakuma. 1.67 ERA. 0.69 WHIP. That is one hell of a one-two punch that should give our slumping hitters fits.
The rest of the rotation and an average hitting team are what keeps the Mariners from moving up and challenging the A’s and potentially the Angels. When top prospects James Paxton (Canadian boy), Dannny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker rise up to replace Joe Saunders, Aaron Harang et al., this could be a team that could seriously contend for a division championship.
I figured I might as well lead with the Mariners since there is nothing new to be said about the Blue Jays. Pitching is mediocre in the rotation (7 walks by J.A. Happ last night was putrid), the old adage that hitting is contagious must also apply to NOT hitting because we don’t have one regular hitting above .255. That, my friends, is vile. Other than the bullpen, led by the perfect Casey Janssen, I am thoroughly disappointed. At least our defence seems to have settled down…there’s that…and ummm…hey Colby is up to .253. Yup…
Game 1: Felix Hernandez (3-2 .214 opp BAA) vs Ricky Romero (1st start)
Game 2: Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1, .160 opp BAA) vs R.A. Dickey (2-4, 4.50 ERA)
Game 3: Joe Saunders (2-3, 5.25 ERA) vs Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.29 ERA)
If there is to be a saving grace for Game 1, it’s that Hernandez is 3-3 and has a 3.75 ERA against the Blue Jays lifetime. Mind you that stat is always bogus considering the players change so much from one year to the next but it’s something. If Romero can go 5 and the hitters can scrape together a few runs we may have a chance. Seattle hitters have provided their ace with 3.17 runs per game so far this year, hence the mediocre W-L record…which we mention every year it seems in regards to Hernandez.
Game 2 should be an interesting match-up. R.A. Dickey goes in with a slightly bum neck but is still cleared to play. I wish the blisters that have been bugging Iwakuma come back hardcore. Dickey should have a great shot at holding down the Mariners offence but Iwakuma has some stingy numbers folks. I mean SICK numbers. I see a pitchers duel in this one and a definite low scoring affair overall.
Game 3 should be the one truly no problem game of the lot. Joe Saunders is no longer a Diamondback, when he was at his best. He is now a Mariner who is 0-3 on the road with a bloated ERA of 12.51. Playing against your former team always seems to get players up and Brandon Morrow is no different. In 23.2 inning pitched against Seattle, Morrow has 32 Ks and a tidy 3.04 ERA. He is due for a brilliant start and this would appear to be the game to do it.
The following are the probable line-ups for both squads.
Toronto Blue Jays:
I could decimate you with stats. Ok I WILL decimate you with stats: LAST in MLB in average (.228). 22nd in MLB in OPS (.690). 28th in MLB in Team ERA (4.72). 26th in MLB in BAA against (.268). Are we getting the picture? Hack the numbers to bits. The team is a mess. We needed that Boston series. Now we need this Seattle series. 2 out of 3 would be a great start since we have won only one series all season…cross your fingers. The time to worry is growing near.
The Final Word:
The all or nothing approach is failing fast. It may have worked for Chad Mottola in the minors where the pitching is more suspect but in the big leagues the pitching can leave us flailing or being too aggressive. There has been a bit more attention to longer at bats but then there are also a lot of called third strikes happening as well. I wonder if Mottola and Dwayne Murphy have the hitters confused as to what to do. Is it a room divided between both men? It is a thought. Perhaps a little shift in accountability between them may lead to results on the field. If not, I don’t see anything remotely resembling the team this group should be.