Seattle Mariners 2015 Season Preview
Odds To Win Division: +160
Odds To Win AL Pennant: 7/1
Odds To Win World Series: 16/1
Regular Season Win Total: 86.5
Most Significant Offseason Changes
Nelson Cruz, LF
Rickie Weeks, 2B
Seth Smith, LF
Kendrys Morales, 1B
Michael Saunders, LF
Chris Young, SP
Joe Beimel, RP
They’ll Be Successful If…
The Mariners have arguably the best bullpen in the majors and a great starting rotation. With the addition of Nelson Cruz and Rickie Weeks, the offense should reach new heights in 2015. The bullpen for the Mariners ranked number one in the league in terms of ERA in 2014 (at a blisteringly low 2.59). Fernando Rodney, Danny Farguhar and Charlie Furbush all posted above 10 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2014, while Tom Wilhelmsen (79.1 innings pitched, ERA of 2.27) and Dominic Leone (8 wins, ERA of 2.17) enjoyed equally impressive seasons. To go with their stout bullpen, the Mariners have a strong rotation, headed by a king named Felix Hernandez. King Felix had an outrageous 2014 season, leading the AL in ERA (at 2.14), WHIP (at 0.92) and ranking fourth in strikeouts (with 248). Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton are solid options at 2 and 3, while the 4 and 5 spots will likely be filled by the serviceable J.A. Happ and young and emerging Taijuan Walker. With the addition of the AL home run leader, Nelson Cruz, the Mariners offense should soar. Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager form a dangerous combination in the middle of the lineup. With Seth Smith coming off a solid season in San Diego, and Rickie Weeks expected to platoon across the infield, the Mariners have a deep, well-rounded and complete roster entering 2015.
They’ll Be Unsuccessful If…
If the offseason signings do not live up to the hype, the Mariners will underperform in a competitive division. The bottom of the pitching rotation leaves a bit to be desired. When the Mariners signed Cruz, most people considered it to be a ”home run”. Cruz, as well as the others, may take a while to become acclimated to their new surroundings. As the Mariners look to be competitive right out the gate, the Mariners can ill-afford sluggish starts from their prized offseason pickups. The bottom of the rotation is not set in stone, and could be a burden on the team. If either player struggles in their starting role, they may be forced to move them to the bullpen and take one of their outstanding relief pitchers and make him a starter. This could have negative effects on both the bullpen and rotation, as the reliever may not have the durability or intangibles to be a competent starting pitcher.
Fantasy Bargain Player: James Paxton, SP
Slotted as the number 3 pitcher, Paxton should have a great season on a highly competitive team. Posting a 3.04 ERA and 6 wins, in 13 starts in 2014, Paxton will enjoy his first full major league season in 2015. He excelled at limiting the home run in 2014, allowing only 3 in 74 innings pitched. Look for him to improve his strikeout to walk ratio, and win at least 10 games, possibly 15 if he can make a full season worth of starts (32-33 starts).
With a roster build to win and win now, the Mariners are geared up and ready to battle for their franchise’s first World Series appearance. The roster is stacked with talent and should the offseason moves prove fruitful, there is a good chance we will be seeing the Mariners playing for, at least, the AL Pennant in 2015.
Prediction: 1st In AL West
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