SEATTLE – That it happened with seven games remaining in the 2020 season is a product of many things – only 60 games in this season, expanded rosters, player call-ups and demotions, roster turnover through trades and the unpredictability of performance.
But Monday night in the Mariners’ 54th game of the season, manager Scott Servais rolled out a batting order he’d used once already this season. It was the first time that it happened. Coming into Monday, Seattle had played 53 games with 53 different batting orders. But Monday, Servais put out the same order (different defensive positions) as Saturday against the Padres.
The order: 1, J.P. Crawford. 2, Dylan Moore. 3, Kyle Lewis. 4, Kyle Seager. 5, Ty France. 6, Jose Marmolejos. 7, Luis Torrens. 8, Evan White. 9, Tim Lopes.
But the Mariners have yet to have the same overall lineup of identical batting order and defensive positions in two games this season. So that unusual streak hasn’t been broken.
Of the 53 games, Crawford has batted leadoff 41 times. Moore has hit second 25 times. The No. 3 spot has been occupied by Lewis 49 times and Seager four times while Seager has batted cleanup 48 times this season. Backup catcher Joe Hudson has the most games batting ninth in the order with 12.
A bullpen solidified?Well, let’s not go crazy. The Mariners’ bullpen is still going to finish the 2020 season as likely one of the worst in baseball. The combined 5.90 ERA is the worst in the American League with the Red Sox right behind at 5.88. The Phillies, a contending playoff team, have a 7.15 ERA for the bullpen while the Rockies are at 6.95.
So if you think seeing Seattle’s relievers struggle was painful, there are three other teams that have it much worse. The Mariners’ 1.70 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the second worst behind the Marlins’ 1.62. Seattle relievers also have hit 22 batters, the highest in MLB.
But with Yoshihisa Hirano getting healthy, the conversion of Kendall Graveman to a reliever, the pick-up of Casey Sadler off the waiver wire and the unexpected production of Anthony Misiewicz and Yohan Ramirez, the bullpen has been somewhat better of late with actual late-inning roles. The return of Erik Swanson and Brandon Brennan from injuries also is a benefit.
“We’ve been very fluid in our bullpen,” Servais said Monday in a pregame video conference. “Now it’s starting to jam up a little bit, in a good way. With Gravy (Graveman) coming into the mix, he’s been able to take high-leverage innings late in games. I really like what we’ve seen from Casey Sadler. He’s thrown the ball really well, and I like his pitch mix. He can sink it, has a good curveball and he’ll throw any pitch at any time.”
Through Monday, Seattle had used 21 relievers this season, including five rookies. They’ve combined to work 192⅓ innings, allowing opponents to post a .254/.359/.463 slash line with 36 homers, 104 walks and only 177 strikeouts. Again, through Monday, the Mariners’ starting pitching has combined to work 264⅔ innings with opponents posting a .235/.310/.396 slash line with 37 homers, 98 walks and 249 strikeouts.
The final stretchThe Mariners are expected to remain in their regular rotation through the rest of the season, including the doubleheader Saturday in Oakland.
That would mean left-hander Marco Gonzales would make one more start in 2020 – the final game of the regular season Sunday, giving him 11 starts this season.
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