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Inbox: Who has had biggest impact this season?

Beat reporter Greg Johns answers questions from Mariners fans
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

Who do you think has made the biggest impact on the Mariners' success thus far? And who has been the biggest surprise?
-- Jay A., Mililani, Hawaii

There are a lot of guys having outstanding seasons, particularly Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger. But I'm going with Edwin Diaz as the one player who has been the biggest reason for the Mariners' amazing success in one-run games, which is a huge part of why they're exceeding expectations. Diaz is on pace for 61 saves, which would be one shy of the Major League record set by Francisco Rodriguez with the Angels in 2008. No other closer has ever totaled more than 57.

Who do you think has made the biggest impact on the Mariners' success thus far? And who has been the biggest surprise?
-- Jay A., Mililani, Hawaii

There are a lot of guys having outstanding seasons, particularly Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger. But I'm going with Edwin Diaz as the one player who has been the biggest reason for the Mariners' amazing success in one-run games, which is a huge part of why they're exceeding expectations. Diaz is on pace for 61 saves, which would be one shy of the Major League record set by Francisco Rodriguez with the Angels in 2008. No other closer has ever totaled more than 57.

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With 27 saves and 62 strikeouts in Seattle's first 71 games, Diaz has already become the first American League closer ever to notch 25 saves and 60 strikeouts by the All-Star break -- which is just under a month away.

The Mariners' record for saves by the Midsummer Classic is 29 by Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2001, while the MLB record is 38 by Rodriguez in his historic '08 season. And when entering a game with a one-run lead, Diaz has been money, recording 17 of 19 saves with a 0.93 ERA, 35 strikeouts and five walks while allowing just two runs in 19 1/3 innings. Seattle is 19-0 in those games.

Tweet from @Mariners: .@EdiDiaz44 just isn't fair.#GoMariners pic.twitter.com/l1UCsTEKbW

As for biggest surprise? It'd be pretty hard not to pick Wade LeBlanc, given he wasn't even on the team until getting picked up in the final days of Spring Training and wasn't part of the rotation until Erasmo Ramirez got hurt. He has been outstanding, and along with Marco Gonzales, has provided far better starting pitching depth than most people expected.

I've read that the Mariners and Yankees may both be interested in J.A. Happ, but even if we got him, who gets displaced? Felix Hernandez has been the weakest starter. Would they replace him?
-- Burch W., Tumwater, Wash.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto may well add another starter before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but it's worth remembering that there are still six weeks to go before then. While Dipoto moved quickly to add Alex Colome and Denard Span to plug holes in the bullpen and outfield, he doesn't need to rush to add a starter at this point. A lot can happen in six weeks, so my guess is that Seattle will talk to a lot of teams and have some scenarios in mind, but the club will wait to pull the trigger on any major moves until it sees how things play out with Hernandez -- and all the others, for that matter -- in terms of health and how well the team is performing as we hit mid-to-late July.

With LeBlanc doing such a great job in the rotation, what will the Mariners do when Ramirez comes back?
-- Scott B., Hillsboro, Ore.

Given how well LeBlanc is pitching, it's pretty clear he has earned the right to remain in the rotation for now. But that's not even an issue at this point since Ramirez isn't anywhere close to returning. He has begun some light throwing, but he will need to build his arm back up as if he was starting Spring Training again. That means he's looking at August or beyond in the best-case scenario. And again, a lot can happen that could impact whether the Mariners need Ramirez in the rotation or not.

Video: BOS@SEA: LeBlanc strikes out 9 over 7 2/3 scoreless

I understand that Robinson Cano can't play in the postseason. I've read that a bunch of times. But what I haven't read is why. Is it just that it comes with the suspension or the amount of games missed? How does that work?
-- Jeff P., Yokosuka, Japan

In 2014, MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed to toughen the penalties for players who test positive for banned substances. At that point, the penalty for a first failed test increased from 50 to 80 games, a second failed test raised from 100 to 162 games and a third violation remained a lifetime ban. The two sides also agreed at that time that any player suspended for a failed drug test would be ineligible for postseason play as well as postseason pay for that season.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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