There’s no sugarcoating it: the Mariners have not been good in July. The pitching staff, working without stalwart Mike Zunino behind the dish, has taken a step back, and the offense has completely flattened out, falling from top-ten in wRC+ May through June to 26th over the month of July. Yesterday the Mariners managed to COORS themselves into seven runs, but it was too little too late, as Christian Bergman underwhelmed, and James Pazos suffered some terrible luck despite executing good pitches and gave up three runs, followed by an unimpressive outing from Mike Morin. The Mariners are aiming to get some new blood in the bullpen with the callup of Double-A standout Matt Festa, the most polished of the bevy of intriguing relief arms waiting in the minors. If Festa can acquit himself well in the pitcher graveyard of Coors, that will do a lot to bolster the M’s bullpen in the second half. If he shows he isn’t ready, the Mariners have a new item to add to their trade deadline shopping list. (If you’re curious about Festa, check out the writeup on his callup, which includes a scouting report with .gifs.)
After demoting Jon Gray to Triple-A for...reasons?, Gray, who has been Colorado’s best starter, gets the start tonight. The Mariners are really losing out this time around, missing Senzatela, who they beat up on in Seattle, and having to face Gray instead. Wade LeBlanc will try to control the surging Rockies’ bats. (Side note: it’s too bad that Rob Whalen, who owned the Rockies with his curveball in a spring start, is on rehab and wasn’t able to make the start instead of Bergman.)
Meanwhile, the Mariners will try to scrape some offense together without Nelson Cruz, who came out on deck last night but never made an appearance. Cruz, who’s posted a wRC+ of just 99 this month, has been slumping lately, as has Gamel, Healy, and, weirdly, Jean Segura. Both Gamel and Segura collected hits last night, so maybe they’re headed in the right direction (Gamel pushed himself all the way up to a wRC+ of 48 after sitting at -16 for the month!). Regardless, the Mariners’ “no black holes” lineup has started to look pretty black-holey lately, and a formerly fearsome team is instead limping towards the break with the A’s tight at their heels.