The 2020 season promises to be one of the most unique and unpredictable seasons in MLB history. Almost anything can happen and how we look at statistics will change as well. But the beauty of a 60 game season is that it makes our mission today much more fun and, in all reality, more realistic. Shorter sample sizes lead to a greater realm of possible outcomes. So let’s have some fun and unveil our 5 bold predictions for your Seattle Mariners.
1. Kyle Lewis finishes with a 50 home run pace
So right off the bat, we have to rely on my math skills to figure out what this means. Already a bad start. But a 60 game season represents just over 37% of a regular season. So we multiply 50 home runs by 0.37 and come out with 18.52 home runs. So for Kyle Lewis to be on a 50 home run pace, he’ll need to slug 19 home runs. Basically, one home run every three games, or roughly every 12 PAs. I think that qualifies as bold?
Lewis has looked amazing in Summer Camp, swatting 5 home runs in the intrasquad action, including some prodigious shots to right field, that have earned him so national buzz. We know Lewis has the raw power and he flashed it during his September call up of 2019, hitting six homers in his first 10 games. While numbers like strikeout percentage and on-base percentage will ultimately be more important when tracking Lewis’ growth in 2020, Lewis is capable of getting hot for a three week stretch and reaching the 19 home run threshold.
2. Kendall Graveman leads the Mariners in pitcher WAR
If you watched his final tuneup start on Tuesday night, you may not consider this a bold prediction. Kendall Graveman was filthy. A running sinker at 93, four seam fastball at 96, strong cutter, and a good changeup all worked perfectly as Graveman wracked up eight strikeouts in four innings. But consider that Graveman hasn’t made an MLB start in more than two years and that he hasn’t faced the elite of the elite bats he’ll face in the Western division of MLB, and I’d still say it is a fairly bold statement.
Unfortunately, the Mariners starters will only get 10 starts each, give or take one or two starts, so one bad outing can doom your entire season. Graveman isn’t all of a sudden going to be a 10.00 K/9 guy, but if he can creep up into the 8.00 K/9 range and keep up his heavy groundball rate, he could be the steal of the off-season for Jerry Dipoto and company. Please stay healthy Kendall!
3. Logan Gilbert will make his MLB Debut on August 23rd
I mean, predicting the exact day a top prospect will make his MLB debut is always bold. But allow me to quickly explain why I’ve landed on that date. First and foremost, it is well past the cutoff date for Gilbert to accrue one year worth of MLB service time. Second, the Mariners will be at home, making the trip from Tacoma to the Mariners easier and safer. Third, his opponent will be the Texas Rangers. Letting Gilbert get his feet wet against the Rangers as opposed to the Dodgers seems like a decent idea.
Whether or not he starts that game or comes out of the bullpen for scheduled work, I can’t say. But I do expect to see Gilbert at some point this season.
4. Yusei Kikuchi is good enough to make you unsure if he’s good enough
I think we are going to see a significantly better Yusei Kikuchi in year two than we did in year one. But will he be good enough to silence all the doubters wondering if he is a long-term asset for the Mariners? Probably not. To be fair, for Kikuchi to do that, he’d probably have to post a mid-3’s ERA and a sub 1.2 WHIP, at least in the mind of many fans. But I would expect to see Kikuchi finish the year with a sub-4.25 ERA with an increase in strikeouts and a decent WHIP in the 1.3 range. Again, not good enough to answer any questions definitively, but good enough to earn one more full season before the Mariners feel like they can answer that question.
Its a big year for Yusei and we have already watched him make some tweaks and sharpen some pitches in his few outings of 2020, so he will definitely be one to watch in his 10 starts.
5. Jerry Dipoto Adds at Deadline
Second time is a charm. After making this prediction in the summer of 2019, I’ll double down despite the odds being ever more stacked against me. Trades are going to be hard to make in 2020 and harder still for a rebuilding team to convince fringe playoff teams to unload their talent to Seattle. But buying at the deadline doesn’t mean trading for Francisco Lindor or Trevor Story. But could Seattle add a mid-rotation arm with a year or more of club control remaining? Absolutely.
If you’re looking for specific names, there are a few that I would throw out that you are likely familiar with already. They include Matt Boyd of Detroit, Jon Gray of Colorado, and Nick Pivetta of Philadelphia. They could also look to add a young bat to their organization. While names like Clint Frazier aren’t likely to send you running to the season ticket window, they can be important pieces to round out a roster around your core of youngsters for years to come.
There you have it. 5 bold predictions for the 2020 Mariners. What is your boldest prediction? Leave it in the comments below. Interested in supporting us and gaining access to our weekly podcast? You can do that for just $3 a month. Get started by clicking the Patreon link on top of the site. Follow us on Twitter @controlthezone and subscribe to our YouTube channel True to the Trident!