The Mariners end the month of June as a playoff team. They have a 1.5 game lead in the wild card standings and yet are third in the American League West. They have a better record than Baltimore, New York, and Kansas City. The team went 16-10 in the month and that was good enough to get them into this position at the halfway mark of the season. I should say quietly get them into position because there hasn’t been much talk about this team being a playoff team. That will change as we get into July.
I will start off the June recap with the batters again. Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager are on pace to get at least 99 runs created for the season. It has been an extraordinary long time since the Mariners have had two players reach triple digits (maybe 2002?). That will be something to watch. Cano has been performing at this pace all season, but Seager had a great June to push himself to this level. I was opposed to moving him into the four spot of the lineup, but he responded well and the combination of Cano batting third and Seager fourth has created an impact in the middle of the lineup. As a team, there were 119 runs created, or 4.6 per game, during the month. That’s the best on a per game basis for the first three months of the season. They did that while the opposing game score average rose to 53.4 during June. That would lead me to believe they scored often against the opposing bullpen.
One of the measures I am watching is record based on runs scored. The past two seasons featured a break point of 4 runs scored per game before the team reached a 500 record. This year it is 5 runs per game. When scoring five or more runs per game, the Mariners are 29-3. Scoring four or fewer yields a record of 15-35.
That seems like a good transition to the starting pitching. We’ve seen the pressure put on the staff when they need to hold the opponent to three runs or less in order for the team to have a chance to win. The team featured a staff of exactly five pitchers during the month. That is a sign of effectiveness or simply lack of injuries. For June, it was the former where Table 2 shows all five pitchers averaged above a 50 game score. The staff averaged 57.2, a remarkable month. Any discussion about the month has to start with Felix Hernandez. He threw 44.1 innings in his six starts or just over 7.1 innings per start. An average game score of 74.2 is incredible and brought his average for the season up to 65.7. How much of a difference did this make? All four of the other starting pitchers performed worse in June than in May.
If there was an item of concern, it would be innings pitched by the staff. Ramirez threw 23 innings over five starts and Young threw 28 innings over his 5 starts. For pitchers not named Hernandez, there were 20 starts and 113 innings thrown. That’s about 5.2 IP per start. That really puts the test to the bullpen.
In looking at Table 3, it appears the bullpen did well during the month. In particular, look at the low leverage index situations. They occur in two types — one where the Mariners are behind and one where they are far ahead. The conclusion, I come to is when the Mariners are behind, the bullpen didn’t let it get worse and when the Mariners are far ahead, they shut down the opposition. Giving the team a chance to come back seems important though I really don’t think this team has the track record of late inning heroics. Nevertheless, the bullpen had a terrific month and those strikeout to walk ratios for the month are something to behold.