3 goals for the Mariners in the 2nd half of the MLB season – Sports Out West
Mariners

3 goals for the Mariners in the 2nd half of the MLB season

Associated Press

Once again, the Seattle Mariners enter the month of August looking more towards the future than the present.

The Mariners have been unable to string together victories since a seven-game losing streak in early June and currently sit at 46-54. Winning the AL West seems like an extreme longshot , and Seattle has seven teams to climb over to reach the second wild card.

A seven-game deficit isn’t impossible to make up, but the Mariners’ odds are not good at this point. Seattle will likely sell off some minor pieces at the trade deadline with the idea of reloading next season.

Even if the Mariners don’t catch up in the playoff race, they still have a few important things to accomplish over the rest of the second half.

See improvement from Mike Zunino

Zunino has turned in one of the more disappointing individual seasons on an underwhelming club. After being rushed to the big leagues in 2013, there was some hope that Zunino might make some strides in his second full year.

Instead, Zunnio has been much worse at the plate than in 2014. His .179 average and .239 OBP are historic in a bad way, and a 34.5 percent strikeout rate is a career high.

However, there may be a few signs that Zunino is beginning to turn things around. Zunino has looked far better at the plate over the past week following some mechanical adjustments and currently has a career-high seven-game hitting streak.

An improved Zunino could help the team win some more games this year, but would be huge for 2016 and beyond. With how well he plays defense, Zunino would only need to be average at the plate to be a very valuable player.

Evaluate some young pitchers

If the Mariners do indeed sell at the trade deadline, Hisashi Iwakuma would be one of the easiest pieces to move. An Iwakuma trade could give Seattle an interesting prospect in return while also allowing the Mariners to get a good look at some young pitchers.

Without Iwakuma, the Mariners would slide Roenis Elias back into the starting rotation, at least until James Paxton returns from a finger injury. While Elias is the odd man out for now, he has likely shown enough to be a back-end starter in Seattle’s future plans.

The big question here is Mike Montgomery. A former top prospect. Montgomery finally broke into the majors with Seattle after several years in the minors and was dominant in his first six starts before cooling off a bit in his last four.

If the Mariners can get a better read on Montgomery, they can start to picture what the 2016 rottion will look like and determine what needs to be done in the offseason.

Look for a solution in center field

Another piece that could be on the way out is starting center fielder Austin Jackson. Unlike with the rotation, there isn’t any depth here whatsoever, and it’s unclear what Seattle’s plan for next season is.

Earlier in the season, it looked like Brad Miller could have been the possible long-term plan. However, Miller is doing well enough at shortstop right now, while presumed replacement Chris Taylor has yet to show he can hit in the Majors.

Another shortstop could be the next to be converted. The Mariners have recently started giving Ketel Marte starts in center field, and he will likely be up in September, if not earlier.

Marte has impressed at the plate in Triple-A at just 21 years old, but there are questions about his glove in the infield. If the wild card becomes more out of reach, it’s worth giving Marte a look.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.
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