SEATTLE -- The way Daniel Vogelbach sees it, there are two ways to approach this 60-game Major League season.
If you get off to a bad start, you can either think you’re doomed since there’s little time to turn things around, or you can realize that you’re just one hot stretch from salvaging your entire campaign.
The Mariners’ designated hitter knocked his first home run of the season Thursday afternoon in a 6-1 loss to the Angels, and he’ll adopt the second philosophy and figure things can certainly get better in a hurry.
“The season is short, it’s not 162 games,” Vogelbach said. “It’s not 500-600 at-bats, so you can look at it as it’s short and very rushed. Or you can look at it as if you stay with the process and keep working hard and have a good two weeks, you can have a good year, pretty much.
“So it’s just staying into your work, putting the time in and trusting that you’re good and it’s going to get hot sooner or later.“
For the Mariners, the first 14 games have revealed a few trends, some good, some bad, as you’d expect from a club with a 5-9 record. As Vogelbach notes, there’s time to turn things around.
So two weeks into the shortened season, here are three takeaways:
1. Mixed results for young guns
Kyle Lewis had his first day off this season, and his absence from the lineup was noticeable. The rookie center fielder is off to a remarkable start, batting .385 with three homers and a 1.016 OPS. He led the Majors with 20 hits going into Thursday’s games. Without him, the Mariners managed just four hits off Angels starter Dylan Bundy in his complete-game outing.
Lewis had the highest “total runs” output over the first two weeks of any MLB position player. “Total runs” is a stat that combines defense, offense and baserunning. Lewis sat at 16 going into Thursday’s action, tied with the Braves’ Dansby Swanson as the top position player.
Shortstop J.P. Crawford was tied for third on that list at 15 in a group that included Aaron Judge of the Yankees, Mookie Betts of the Dodgers and Ramon Laureano of the A’s. So Lewis and Crawford are in good company.
For Crawford, the eye-opener has been his defense, where he rates a 5 for defensive runs saved, tied for Betts for the most in the Majors. Last year, Crawford finished the season at -5 DRS, so that’s a significant turnaround. He also has excelled in getting on base as the Mariners’ new leadoff man.
But not everything is so rosy for the youngsters. Evan White has been outstanding with the glove at first base but has struggled mightily at the plate in making the jump from Double-A. It’s clearly not as easy to hit at the big league level as Lewis has made it seem initially. White went 0-for-3 on Thursday to see his batting average drop to .118. He’s 2-for-35 with 15 strikeouts over his last 10 games.
2. Sometimes you don’t see it coming
Although he went 0-for-3 and was hit by pitch on Thursday, Dylan Moore has been the early breakout player for Seattle. The 28-year-old came into the season trying to keep his job as a utility player, but he has hit so well that he’s now playing regularly as a corner outfielder while batting. .333 with two homers and four doubles in nine games.
“Certainly, Dylan Moore has been a serious bright spot early in the season,” manager Scott Servais said. “Not just what you see on the stat sheet, but internally what we follow. We have internal metrics, swing decisions and batted-ball contact and things like that. He’s at the top. He leads our team in doing the things we really emphasize with our hitters.
“And not just our team, but he’s one of the best in the league right now in doing that, easily top five or 10 if he had more plate appearances to qualify. He’s a real bright spot there.”
3. Pitching plus, pitching minuses
After throwing seven scoreless innings against the A’s his previous start, Taijuan Walker looked sharp again for three frames Thursday, spoiled only by a Shohei Ohtani home run in the second inning. But in the fourth, Walker walked three, hit a batter and gave up a pair of singles and was knocked out after allowing three more runs.
In three starts as he returns from a two-year Tommy John surgery rehab, Walker is 1-2 with 5.79 ERA over 14 innings.
It’s been that sort of topsy-turvy two weeks for the Mariners’ pitching overall. No. 1 starter Marco Gonzales has been the only consistent factor. Walker and Yusei Kikuchi have had one good start each, Kendall Graveman is out with a neck issue, and rookies Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn are a combined 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA.
As a team, the Mariners’ 6.00 ERA through 14 games is the highest in the Majors. Their starters have a 5.71 ERA, and the bullpen sits at 6.33.
“We’ve had some very good outings and some struggles at times,” Servais said. “When we are struggling, going to a young bullpen in those pivot spots in the fourth or fifth inning, that’s the inning that’s gotten us. But I really like our club. I like the core where we’re at. We have a lot to learn. We have to keep working every day.
“Bright spots for me -- we’re running the bases very well, our defense is much improved from where we were a year ago. Getting consistency offensively and starting pitching will be key to us moving forward.”