2018 Mariners: Seattle Must Stay Healthy to End Longest Playoff Drought

Mark Lathrop

Friday, March 16, 2018 11:41 AM UTC

Friday, Mar. 16, 2018 11:41 AM UTC

The Mariners were one of the more disappointing teams in the 2017 season, as multiple injuries to their starting rotation slowed them down. Mark Lathrop investigates if they have a chance to cover their 2018 win total as set by the markets.

We will be breaking down each division team by team as we approach the 2018 MLB season to identify futures value and upcoming betting trends. Today, we will take a look at the Seattle Mariners of the AL West. The Mariners were the strongest Under call in my futures model last year, and boy did they deliver. They fell under their 88.5-win total by more than 10 games and finished with 78. The market has adjusted thusly and have placed the Mariners as the mediocre team that they usually are with an 81.5-win total over at Bovada.

Pitching Staff

The Mariners do have an ace on their roster with Big Maple a.k.a. James Paxton. The big left-hander has put up two seasons in a row of sub-3 FIP dominance, yet has not been able to crack 145 innings pitched in any professional season in his career. He put up 4.6 WAR in just 136 innings in 2017 and was very dominant at times. If Paxton can stay healthy for an entire season, just that difference in innings is likely to be worth more than Seattle’s potential #3 starter and former ace, Felix Hernandez. A great addition to the Seattle pitching staff over the offseason was Juan Nicasio, who bounced around last year with three teams and still put up a 2.98 FIP over 72.1 innings pitched and 76 appearances. He’ll set up for the still-young fireballer Edwin Diaz, who if healthy mentally and physically would help shorten games played against Seattle to just 7 innings.

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Motter Pop, anyone?#MarinersST pic.twitter.com/PoGRRYrhUC

— Mariners (@Mariners) March 16, 2018


While the locals may be enamored with the return of the prodigal son in Ichiro Suzuki, the truth is he will be a stopgap until Ben Gamel returns from injury. However, with how things have gone this spring, there will always be an injury to have a stopgap for with the Mariners, so Ichiro may get more playing time than is warranted even for a fan favorite. New addition Dee Gordon will look to make the transition from the infield to center field this year in a move that I actually think will work. There is a chance that Mike Zunino could be a transformational force, as it is easy to forget that the catcher is just 26 years old and in his 6th major-league season. Zunino put up a 126 +wRC last season and 3.6 WAR in just 124 games and 435 plate appearances. He’s projected to be one of the most valuable catchers in baseball this year, making a lineup including Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager pretty formidable.

Wild Cards and Betting Trends

Just like last season, the 2018 campaign will rest in the hands of the doctors for the Mariners. A player who could emerge as key is Mitch Haniger, who is entering his prime 27-year-old season and put up 2.5 WAR in just 96 games last year. It isn’t hard to put together that most of the players I have discussed would greatly improve a roster over a full season of playing time. If they stay healthy, the Mariners will fly by their 81.5-win total set for 2018.

Current Win Total: 81.5Best Line Offered: Bovada
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