When I heard that Robinson Cano was named Mariners’ player of the month for May, I decided I should lead off with the batters. Table 1 includes the four players who created more than 4.5 runs per game plus two more were were above 10.0 runs created or close. Cano created his 19.6 runs in 73 outs, third most on the roster. Smoak created his 12.0 runs and used 95 outs. While I recently wrote a post exclusively about James Jones, maybe I spoke too soon. He stumbled the last week of the month and slipped to only 4.6 runs created per game. He used 65 outs to do that. Maybe I should have written about Michael Saunders who only used 63 outs to create 15.4 runs. I know he doesn’t play everyday, but he made good use of the opportunities he had in May.
What I had intended to lead off with was the starting pitching. The top four had great performances in the month if only by the average game score. With 50 being average and 60 starting talk about Cy Young awards, I am sure every Mariners’ fan was very pleased to see Iwakuma back and pitching like there never was an injury. Elias threw a 51.4 average in April and really stepped it up in May. Young only had three starts in April, but a 49.0 average didn’t prepare us for a sharp improvement to 56.6 in May. Unfortunately, Brandon Maurer regressed in May and frequently was pulled before he completed five innings. The potential is there with 44 strikeouts in five starts, but simply too many base runners and runs allowed got him sent back to Tacoma.
The strikeouts column is new this month. The Cleveland Indians broadcast made a big deal about Corey Kluber throwing 60 strikeouts in the month of May. It has been awhile since an Indians pitcher did that. We have King Felix. While he collected 67 strikeouts in April, 38 for May does not seem right. Well, we should at least be pleased to see that Young and Elias got close, though there is little chance either could get eight starts in a month.
The bullpen got a little break during May as a consequence of the starting pitching doing so well. They actually were required to pitch four fewer innings in May yet there are eight more games than April. The performances in aggregate were better as well. In both high leverage and low leverage situations, ERA, K/9, and K/BB improved in May over April.
The record for the month was 18-14, an improvement over April’s 10-14. June is not going to be a typical month. The month opens with a make-up game in New York followed by two in Atlanta. The first homestand of the month includes Texas, the only American League West opponent for the month. Immediately after Texas is four with San Diego, split by venue. Maybe James Paxton returns during June. Maybe Taijuan Walker returns during June. It doesn’t seem like we need more starting pitching, but both would be welcome sights in Mariners’ uniforms.