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“On Bzdek” 2017 Team Preview: Seattle Mariners

Team Previews: 2017 Seattle Mariners

     The Mariners are coming off a strong 2016 season in which they finished 86-76, just 3 games shy of the wildcard. The Mariners were led by a strong offense, which is something we have not been accustomed to hearing over the last few years. GM Jerry Dipoto, hired in 2015, was very active over the off-season making numerous trades that he hopes will get the Mariners into their first post-season since 2001. Let’s look at some of the key off-season transactions.

Notable off-season additions

  • Yovani Gallardo (acquired from BAL)
  • Jarrod Dyson (acquired from KC)
  • Drew Smyly (acquired from TB)
  • Carlos Ruiz (acquired from LAD)
  • Danny Valencia (acquired from OAK)
  • Jean Segura (acquired from AZ)
  • Mitch Haniger (acquired from AZ)

Notable off-season deletions

  • Seth Smith (traded to BAL)
  • Nathan Karns (traded to KC)
  • Adam Lind (elected free agency)
  • Norichika Aoki (claimed off waivers by HOU)
  • Ketel Marte (traded to AZ)
  • Taijuan Walker (traded to AZ)

As you can see, Jerry Dipoto was very busy making notable additions to the rotation and the lineup. With these in mind, the projected 2017 opening day line-up and bench is as follows:
Lineup & Batting Order

  1. Jarrod Dyson – left field

    Cano

  2. Jean Segura – shortstop
  3. Robinson Cano – second Base
  4. Nelson Cruz – designated hitter
  5. Kyle Seager – third base
  6. Dan Vogelbach – first base
  7. Mitch Haniger – right field
  8. Mike Zunino – catcher
  9. Leonys Martin – center field

Bench

  • Danny Valencia – 1B/3B/OF
  • Carlos Ruiz – C
  • Guillermo Heredia – OF
  • Taylor Motter – IF/OF

Dipoto’s most notable acquisition was Jean Segura, who is the team’s new starting shortstop and #2 hitter. Segura is coming off his best offensive season in Arizona, and while the shift to a less hitter friendly ballpark may hurt Segura’s production, he should still be plenty productive hitting in front of Cano/Cruz/Seager. These three make up the heart of the Mariners order and it is as good a 3/4/5 as any in the league. With Segura’s 40 steal potential, and fellow notable acquisition Jarrod Dyson, who also has 40 steal potential, setting the table, the Mariner’s offense will be a force to reckon with.

Moving down the order, we have Dan Vogelbach, who was acquired in 2016 at the trade deadline for Mike Montgomery. Vogelbach is a bat first prospect who can hit for power but is content with spraying singles around the field. He’s not a highly-rated defender and will likely slide into the DH role once it is vacated by Nelly Cruz. Vogelbach, a lefty, will likely share at-bats with Danny Valencia. Valencia, a right, mashed lefties in 2016, hitting .318/.389/.535 against them. This has the potential to develop into a strong platoon for the Mariners. Following Vogelbach is fellow rookie Mitch Haniger. Haniger, acquired from AZ with Segura, was AZ’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2016. Not only can he hit, Haniger is an excellent defender that can play all three outfield positions, giving the Mariners flexibility moving forward. The batting order rounds out with catcher Mike Zunino and another speedster Leonys Martin. Martin hit 15 homers and stole 24 bases in 2016 and makes for a great #9 hitter.

On the bench will be veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz. The fourth outfield spot is a competition between Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia, with Heredia leading the race so far. Heredia is off to a torrid start to spring training going 7/13 with 4 doubles, a triple, and a stolen base through the first seven games. Heredia is an athletic player and another excellent defender who will fit in well with the Mariners’ strong team defense. Assuming Gamel is left off the opening day roster, he will provide depth at AAA and should see time in 2017 when an opportunity presents itself.

Overall, the Mariners upgraded an already strong offense that finished 3rd in home runs, 6th in runs, and 8th in OPS in 2016. They should be near the top of the league in offensive production again in 2017. Pitching wins championships though, so let’s see what the projected rotation and bullpen looks like.

Projected Starting Rotation

King Felix

  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Hisashi Iwakuma
  3. James Paxton (lefty)
  4. Drew Smyly (lefty)
  5. Yovani Gallardo

Projected Bullpen

  • Edwin Diaz – Closer
  • Steve Cishek*
  • Nick Vincent
  • Marc Rzepczynski (lefty)
  • Tony Zych*
  • Dan Altavilla
  • Evan Scribner
  • Shae Simmons
  • James Pazos

*Cishek and Zych are both recovering from injuries and their opening day status is in question. Cishek had off-season microfracture surgery on his torn labrum, and Zych had surgery to repair a torn biceps. Both have begun throwing programs.

The rotation is headlined by King Felix. He is coming off the worst season in his career, but Hernandez entered spring in great shape and by all accounts motivated to have a bounce back season. I believe he has plenty more left in the tank. Hard throwing lefty James Paxton is looking to build off a strong 2016 where he threw a career high 121 innings while striking out 117 batters and posting an FIP of 2.80, almost a full run below his 2016 ERA of 3.79. He’s a guy to watch in 2017 and could be instrumental in the Mariners season. Smyly is another guy to keep an eye on. He posted a K/9 of 8.7 and BB/9 of 2.5 in 2016, both above average. Symly’s problem was the long ball, giving up 1.6 HR/9 last year. If he can limit the homers he will be a valuable starter. Smyly replaced the loss of Taijuan Walker, another high upside starting pitcher who has been unable to put it all together for more than a few starts in a row. Veteran Yovani Gallardo rounds out the back end of the rotation. The move out of Camden Yards should benefit Gallardo, but the once dominant starter seems to have declined to a back-end innings eater. If he struggles he could be challenged by Ariel Miranda for the fifth starter slot.

In the bullpen, 22-year-old Edwin Diaz has already been named the team’s closer. The young reliever features a 98 MPH fastball and a nasty slider, producing a combination that was good for an insane 15.3 K/9 in 2016. Diaz has been working on a third pitch, a changeup, over the off-season. He can be elite with just the fastball/slider combo, but if he can harness the changeup that gives him even more weapons on the mound.

Behind Diaz are Steve Cishek (once healthy) and Nick Vincent. They should see most of the holds for 2017, and with Cishek’s closing experience he is likely first in line should something happen to Diaz. The bullpen also features lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynsi, veteran Evan Scribner, and a youngster in Dan Altavilla. Altavilla got a taste of the big leagues last summer and impressed in his 12.1 innings of work, posting a 0.73 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 10K/BB.

Prospect Watch

Thyago Vieira


Speaking of relief pitchers, one Mariner prospect to keep an eye on for 2017 is Thiago Vieira. Vieira is a young hard-throwing right handed pitcher who routinely touches 97-100 MPH and is known to occasionally hit 102-103. Vieira straightened out some control issues last year and improved the feel for his curve ball. He’s already on the 40-man roster and if he continues to improve the control and polish the curve he would make a great addition to the bullpen when the Mariners are making a playoff push.

Fantasy Breakdown and Final Thoughts
From a fantasy standpoint, we know about the studs in the middle of the line-up.  I would take any of these consistent sluggers on my fantasy team. The two sleeper bats to target are Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger. Dyson got on-base at .340 clip last year. With his speed and hitting at the top of a strong line-up he has the potential to steal 40 bags and score 80+ runs, which is a slam dunk for a guy being drafted outside of the top 200 players. Mitch Haniger is being drafted even later, or not at all in some leagues. His minor-league resume speaks for itself. While he will be batting in the bottom half of the lineup, he should still see plenty of RBI opportunities and is a 20-home run threat. On the pitching side, I like Drew Smyly as a late round flyer. Smyly is coming off the worst season of his career, but as noted above the strikeouts are there and he doesn’t walk a ton of guys either. The change of scenery gives him a fresh start and should help him mentally, plus the great defense behind him should give him a boost too.

Overall, the Mariners have been trending upwards since Dipoto took over the GM role in 2015. They upgraded an already strong offense and shook up the pitching. The bullpen looks strong and the team defense is excellent. This is a mixture that will be right in the thick of things come September and I predict the Mariners will claim a wild card spot and end their 15-year playoff drought.

Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 5th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #77 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both Central divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Hernan Batista, and Jesse Ellison. Jessie is the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction in S.E. VA. You can visit his organization at ebicamps.com. Hernan is a frequent guest on our shows, and an experienced MLFB league member.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 12th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #78 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both West divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Kevin Bzdek and Kevin O’Hara. Kevin Bzdek is one of our newest additions to our baseball writing staff in 2017. His articles publish every Friday morning. Kevin O’Hara is a big dynasty baseball fan and a moderator for the fantasy baseball community on reddit.com.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

 

I am a fantasy baseball enthusiast. I joined my first league in 2004 and haven't stopped playing. I am also an auditor and CPA at a midsize public accounting firm where I analyze information every day. Combined, my passion for baseball and my analytical background create a unique perspective to analyzing fantasy baseball.

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