As the Mariners end an unexpectedly successful month of April, with great contributions from unexpected players, taking inventory of the team’s success is a much easier process.
Jarrod Washburn, perhaps the most noted turnaround story, went 3-1 with a 3.42 ERA. Washburn has fared pretty well in April as a Mariner. In two of his three previous seasons he ended the first month of the season with a sub-4.0 ERA.
However, this is the first time he's also had a winning record. And that includes 2002, he went 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting.
Ken Griffey Jr. is batting right at the Mendoza line, .200, but has a .342 OBA, third-best on the team among those eligible for the batting title. Griffey’s hit two home runs and driven in only five runs, but he’s scored nine, and his 13 walks lead the team.
Erik Bedard’s April 12 start, when he pitched eight and one-third innings, was the first time he’d pitched into the eighth inning since May 17 of last season. It was the first time he’d pitched into the ninth inning since July 7 of the 2007 season. That was the first time he pitched that deep into a game.
For nearly the last half-decade, the Mariners have had a revolving opening at first base and left field. Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez have been there most of the time. The team has started six players at the positions so far, but the two main starters, Endy Chavez and Russell Branyan, have outproduced the former players compared to April 2008.
David Aardsma has been a pleasant surprise in the bullpen.
The power-armed righty, my own personal favorite candidate for the closer job during spring training, posted a 1.93 ERA in April with three saves. That was despite Brandon Morrow occupying the closer role.
Aardsma has pitched in nine games and been scored upon in only one of those games. He gave up two runs April 25. Aardsma only glaring blemish: walks. He has given up six in nine and one-third innings.
Felix Hernandez—King Felix—has been the most impressive pitcher on the staff. He’s 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA.
He has averaged almost seven innings per start so far and has improved in almost every statistical category. Notably, Felix has given up only a single home run and 10 walks in 34 innings while striking out 36.
There is reason to believe that the Mariners' pitching will remain solid for the entire season. However, if the offense doesn’t improve, the Mariners could see a slide in the near future.
The team had a strong month but ended with three losses in its last four contests.
Read more of Casey's work at 5th Quarter Sports