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Seattle Mariners

Grippi: So far, Mariners going nowhere in a hurry

UPDATED: Sun., June 18, 2017, 9:40 p.m.

Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, who is on the disabled list, watches from the dugout late in the team’s baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Friday, May 19, 2017, in Seattle. Hernandez is expected to return on Friday, June 23. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, who is on the disabled list, watches from the dugout late in the team’s baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Friday, May 19, 2017, in Seattle. Hernandez is expected to return on Friday, June 23. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

You ever sit on the shore and watch a duck glide across the water?

They seem so smooth, but that’s an illusion, of course. Below the surface their little webbed feet are working furiously to get them to where they want to go.

One view is simple, easy. The other complicated, hard.

For the Mariners right now, it’s almost as if the only view we have is from below.

They seem to be paddling feverishly, trying to get somewhere in the American League standings.

The problem is one of their legs is cracked. So all they do is end up going in circles.

Every time they move forward a bit, they immediately fall back.

Twice this season they have reached .500 only to stall.

The first time, in early May, they lost four consecutive games and five of six.

It took until about two weeks ago before they got back to even, only to lose seven of their next 10.

Their 7-3 win Sunday pulled them back to 34-37, a lukewarm result after 71 games if there’s ever been one.

And what’s the Bible tell us about lukewarm water? We’re supposed to spit it out.

There’s a temptation to do that with the M’s season. The past dozen or so years have been filled with tepid results, making it easy to rinse our mouths and move on.

But just wait a while. There is help on the horizon.

Felix Hernandez, out since April 26 with a bum shoulder, threw his third rehab assignment last night in Tacoma. He tossed six shutout innings, gave up four singles, struck out eight and walked no one.

He’ll be back in the rotation Friday. That’s a plus.

Hisashi Iwakuma, out since May 10 with a bum shoulder, among other ailments (when you are a 36-year-old pitcher, there is always more than one), will also be back soon.

And Drew Smyly, out since forever with the elbow injury he suffered during spring training, is throwing again. It may be the middle of July, or longer, before he’s back, but he will be back.

When the rotation is whole again (or for the first time, actually), the M’s can cut Yovani Gallardo and his 6.30 earned run average loose.

They can, if they want, mainly because youngsters like Ariel Miranda (6-3, 4.17) and Sam Gaviglio (3-1, 3.41) have proven they can win at this level.

Which leaves the bullpen as the pitching question mark as July approaches.

It’s not awful, it’s not great.

Again, lukewarm.

The bullpen’s ERA is 20th out of 30 major league teams. Only four American League teams are worse, though, which means there is plenty of room for improvement.

General manager Jerry Dipoto has tried, of course, shuffling the bullpen deck more often than a Vegas card shark.

This month alone, the Mariners have brought a relief pitcher up from the minors and sent another one down eight times. Heck, Casey Lawrence has been sent down, recalled and sent down again.

All the moves have been necessary. They’ve allowed manager Scott Servais to have somewhat fresh arms in the bullpen. But the results haven’t been sparkling. Neither have they been awful.

They, like the M’s season, have been, at best, just treading water.

And make us wonder if they will ever get where they want to go.



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