Seattle’s disappointing off-season saw very little done in terms of adding depth, especially with its staring pitching. But Sunday’s disappointing loss in Detroit, Mich. highlighted a lack of infield depth when second baseman Robinson Cano took a pitch on his hand, breaking it.
Seattle will be rolling out Andrew Romine and Gordon Beckham (recently called up from Triple-A Tacoma). Romine has been hitting .185/.290/.222 with a wRC+ of 52 in 32 plate appearances at the major league level; while the 31-year old Beckham has been tearing the cover off the ball with the Rainiers — he posted a wRC+ of 139 in 114 PAs. It’s likely we will see Beckham take on the starting role, with Romine sprinkled in, because he’s the better hitter (career wRC+ of 81 vs. 64) and this team needs all the offense it can get.
It’s going to be impossible to replace Cano’s offensive production in the line-up, especially since he was off to the best start of his career. The veteran second baseman was hitting .287/.385/.441 which led to a wRC+ of 128. His most impressive stat was the career high walk rate he had earned (12.4%) while keeping his strikeout rate around his career norms. This meant that Cano had already been worth 1.4 wins through his first 169 PAs of the year.
Losing that kind of production, and walks, from this lineup is going to deal a critical blow to it. Even if manager Scott Servais moves right fielder Mitch Haniger into the three hole in front of Nelson Cruz…this offense is missing its best bet to get a runner on this season. Which should lead to decreased run production.
This is team that’s won 22 of its first 39 games because it was able to score runs, the pitch in staff has been awful for the first month and a half of the season and there’s very little depth in the minors to provide any hope that it’s performance will improve. Seattle can’t afford to have it’s run production slip if it’s going to maintain its spot in the playoff race; but losing Cano for any length of time is almost certainly going to cause that.
As of right now, we still don’t have an idea of when we can expect Cano to start rehab for the injury…let alone when we can expect him back in the lineup.
It’s hard for me to see this roster being able to sustain its current offensive output without its walk machine in the No. 3 hole. Unless there is some ‘95 level of flukiness on offense, it’s likely that Cano’s injury just dealt a crippling blow to the Mariners’ playoff odds.
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