The Seattle Mariners have not qualified for the postseason since 2001. The club went 71-91 in 2013, good enough for 4th place in the AL West. It seems rather obvious this team is trying to change its fortunes, with the signing of Robinson Cano, arguably the top free agent of this past offseason, as well as signing Corey Hart and trading for Logan Morrison. Yet every team has its setbacks. Perhaps the main problem with this squad at the moment is the plethora of injuries the pitching rotation has had to deal with.
According to a Feb. 28 article from Greg Johns of MLB.com, Hisashi Iwakuma won’t be permitted to throw for another three weeks. Iwakuma finished third in AL Cy Young voting last year. Certainly with someone like Iwakuma who had a breakout year last year, it’s probably not an injury the M’s want to see. The problems don’t start and end with the 32-year-old Japanese right-hander, however. Johns also reported Feb. 28 that Taijuan Walker won’t throw for the next seven days after inflammation in his right shoulder. Walker is rated the top prospect in the organization and the sixth best prospect overall in the entire game. A quote from Seattle trainer Rick Griffin in Johns’ story on Walker said it’s merely day-to-day.
Walker isn’t the only prized pitching prospect in Seattle’s organization who has had to deal with injury woes. Left hander Danny Hultzen was drafted second overall by the team in 2011. The 24-year-old southpaw was ranked rather highly among the game’s top 100 prospects a season ago, only to find himself completely off the list altogether in 2014. Hultzen underwent rotator cuff surgery in the offseason on his left shoulder, and will thus miss the entire season. According to a Feb. 27 Johns story, Hultzen is getting ready for 2015 and was playing catch with one of the team’s trainers.
The Mariners are the only American League team, and one of only two teams in MLB overall, which has never appeared in a World Series. Granted this is a tough AL West division with an Oakland Athletics team looking to win its third straight division crown and a Texas Rangers ball club hoping to return to the postseason after narrowly missing last year. The M’s may be able to go back to its winning ways should a healthy rotation live up to its potential. The baseball world knows what Felix Hernandez can bring. Iwakuma had a rocking 2013. Walker’s potential seems to speak for itself and Hultzen also has been promising at one point, but still awaits his Major League debut.
The potential is there for Seattle, but for the time being, has to nurse its pitchers to a healthy recovery, and therefore didn’t have the greatest week in the world.