Oh goodie, we get to see Daniel Cabrera this time around, paired up in a battle of opposites with Carlos Silva. Cabrera's control problems aren't any better but he's compensated by striking out fewer batters and allowing more homeruns. Wait, that's bad. Which is good for us. Cabrera enters the series with a FIP of 6.57.
Guthrie still isn't striking anyone out and is allowing way too many homeruns to be successful long term. So far though his defense is bailing him out as he stands with a 5.76 FIP.
Adam Loewen has walked more batters than he's struck out, and allowed way too many homeruns. Sound familiar? So will this part. He's been awful and has managed to look only terrible thanks to his defense. He enters the series with a 7.30 FIP.
Scott and Markakis are off to rousing starts, but the rest of the lineup is...well...only Kevin Millar has an OPS+ over 100 and it stands at 106. They draw an average number of walks, strike out an average number of times and see an average number of pitches per PA. What they do do, is steal. 2nd in the AL in successful steals it will be important for the Ms to keep an eye on Roberts and Markakis. And for the love of sanity, don't let Adam Jones beat us.
There's a small chance we could see Bedard back for game three which would be a big boost to the club, but I wouldn't be counting on anything. However, we should be near to getting J.J. Putz back into the bullpen which is going to necessitate a roster move from the bullpen. The lefties are safe as is Sean Green so the candidates seem to be Morrow, Corcoran or Lowe assuming Dickey stays up until Bedard comes back and Baek isn't dealt off. Corcoran's been effective for McLaren so it might be more likely to see either Morrow or Lowe sent down. Given that it is the Mariners, I'd start preparing for Mark Lowe to get optioned back to Tacoma.
Is Richie Sexson back? On one hand, it's a very small sample size and there are still games where he looks like Beltre sans talent at the plate. On the other, we've rarely seen Sexson be actually successful at the start of the year. Though the first 20 games, Sexson's OPS while with the Mariners have been: .821, .693 and .606 with nine walks being the most he had drawn in that span. Sexson's OPS stands at a robust .875 with 14 walks drawn and one can only imagine that with some renewed spark, he might start getting pitched around more. Hopefully he maintains his newfound discipline even in the wake of recovering power.
Is Kenji Johjima finished? On one hand, Kenji's been a fast starter the previous two years with OPSs of .854 and .913 through his first 17 games in 2006 and 2007. He's at a paltry .512 right now and while the increased walk rate is nice, he's hacking away at anything near the zone seeing a career low 3.2 pitches per plate appearance. One the other, Johjima's line drive rate is consistent with his career figures at 18.9%, a perfectly respectable number and his groundball rate hasn't changed much suggesting his overall approach isn't much different. What is different is a spike in infield flys and a correspondingly low BABIP. Expect both of those to regress and Kenji to go back to being an mild asset with his bat while we give Clement a year more to gestate and feed on Triple-A pitching.
THIS SERIES BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
Lions Winter Ale
Granville Island Brewery. Kelowna, BC
Good luck finding this one. Granville Island doesn't export outside of British Columbia but man oh man, this one is worth the drive up north to get. I am referring in specific to the winter ale, but it could be said for many of their lines for Granville Island is certainly a brewery worthy of considering amongst any of America's west coast. It pours a ruby red and through taste and smell is very reminiscent of Newcastle Brown Ale, possibly even a touch better and with a smidgen more of a chocolate finish. I should mention that Newcastle [on tap] is one of my favorite beers. Pity their football team blows ass. Overall this instantly jumped up the ranks to settle in as one of my preferred beers and will certainly be a must get every time I head across the border.