This was supposed to be a post about Logan Morrison. I wrote a few paragraphs analyzing his current line, looking at how his strikeouts are down and his walk rate is normal, how his BABIP is .200, and just generally how he has been tremendously unlucky. As I was searching for spray charts to show the balls that have *almost* gone out of the park (robbed at the wall by Trout and Choo) and examining his would-be .606 OPS, it hit me that it's just too damn soon. Still.
It's 15 games deep into the 2015 season, which means the Mariners have played a whopping 9% of their games this year. A hot week from Morrison could completely shred any evidence that he's in trouble and the Mariners need an upgrade -- at this point, a hot series could return his line to normal. What if those homers weren't robbed, and Morrison jacked one more tomorrow paired with a single? .666 OPS. It's not good, but it's not quite the oh noooooo .413 OPS he's currently sporting. Everybody exhales.
So how can we conclude anything at all? If we're not going to believe the 2015 Mariners season is dead and buried at 6-9, we can hardly believe that Logan Morrison, James Paxton, and Hisashi Iwakuma are toast. Taijuan Walker was toast, and then he wasn't. When you're at the stage of the season when one game can completely shift your perspective about a player's future outlook, it's too early to make meaningful conclusions. So in lies the difficulty of trying to figure out what's wrong with the Mariners in the middle of April. It's fine, unless it's not.
So we'll continue to watch Logan Morrison, waiting for that BABIP to rise from .200 and those warning track shots to go an extra few feet. We'll wait for Hisashi Iwakuma to stop hanging balls over the middle of the plate, or for batters to stop hitting them. What's different between Iwakuma's pitch location between 2014 and 2015? You tell me.
Even with 2015's mini-sample, you just can't see much of a difference. It's possible that a good portion of the problems with this pitching staff is their propensity for walking people, coupled with batters hammering more pitches than they usually do. Flash back to yesterday, when Yoervis Medina was awful, as even Lloyd McClendon had the following gem after Medina whiffed Chris Carter to escape a bases loaded jam.
"Fortunately he was able to throw a hanging slider that was so bad he couldn't hit it."
Fernando Rodney stuck runners on the corners with one out in the 9th last night, and the Astros promptly swung at two straight pitches, popping up and grounding out to #arrow out the game Last week, that's probably a blown save and another evening of heartbreak. But instead, it's the Astros bailing the Mariners out. And it shouldn't be that surprising.
Given what's happened with the bullpen over the past week, it feels weird to see that the win expectancy for the Mariners in Medina's 8th inning jam was still 71.5%. Or that it was 63.7% when Rodney worked himself into a one-out jam. But batters aren't going to keep be-ba-bip'ing the Mariners to death all year long -- Mariners pitchers still carry a BABIP of .314, 3rd worst in the league. Relievers account for a big portion of that, coughing up a lovely mark of .327. It won't continue, and we shouldn't expect it to. We shouldn't be surprised when the Mariners win games they're favored to win.
That's what's so weird about writing about baseball this early. You want to avoid false narratives and making conclusions about players, but still acknowledge and respect that these results did happen and do matter. In the same way that you wouldn't want to read a post about how Nelson Cruz is going to hit 95 dingers, you shouldn't have to read a piece about how James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma are broken beyond repair. Those games happened, but they don't dictate the future. What I'm trying to say here is that sometimes this business is weird, and reconciling being an emotional fan and a logical writer isn't easy.
So sit back, "enjoy the ride," and wait for things to normalize, good or bad. Or maybe Nelson Cruz will hit 95 homers, and Hisashi Iwakuma will allow 50. Either way, we can anticipate the regression.