The Seattle Mariners have had a positive start to the 2018 season. However, the gears may have been gummed up Sunday.
Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano suffered a broken bone in his hand during Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers, and it’s possible the injury could derail the Mariners’ train.
Cano has been Seattle’s most dependable source of offensive production since signing as a free agent prior to the 2014 season. He’s been durable, appearing in at least 150 games in each of his previous four seasons with the Mariners, and he’s been consistent, compiling an wRC+ between 112 and 138 in those campaigns. One can argue whether it was sound financial business to give a 10-year, $240-million contract to a 31-year-old, but one can’t argue that Cano has been productive.
Cano was having a typical season through the first six weeks, batting .289 with four home runs, 23 RBI and a .827 OPS. His efforts contributed to the Mariners starting the season 22-17 and being right in the mix in the American League wild-card standings — going into Monday night’s games Seattle was just 1.5 game out of a wild-card spot.
But Cano was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate Blaine Hardy on Sunday, suffering a fracture to the fifth metacarpal bone. Cano is scheduled to see a specialist and the injury may require surgery. Either way Cano is expected to miss a chunk of time.
—UPDATE, Tuesday, 11:35 p.m.
And now we know Cano’s absence will be a little longer than originally anticipated:
Here’s your official announcement on Cano pic.twitter.com/wHDR7jUwJc
— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) May 15, 2018
So what will Cano’s absence do to Seattle’s offense, and how that affect the Mariners’ results?
Seattle’s offense has been excellent so far this season. The addition of Dee Gordon at the top of the order has been everything the Mariners could have hoped, Mitch Haniger has taken another step forward in his development, and Ryon Healy has been a monster since coming off the disabled list. As a result Seattle ranked fourth in the majors with a team wRC+ of 109 through Sunday’s games. With those three adding to the contributions of holdovers like Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and Jean Segura, the Mariners have had a deep lineup with few holes. It might be that Seattle now has enough firepower to withstand losing Cano for an extended period of time.
But Cano is an important piece of the offense, holding down the No. 3 spot in the order. Because of his consistency the Mariners never really have to worry about Cano going into a slump. And Seattle doesn’t have any obvious short-term replacement for Cano at second base, with the likes of Andrew Romine and Tylor Motter being underwhelming first options.
If the offense takes, a hit, there’s little indication the pitching can pick up the slack. Through Sunday the Mariners ranked 23rd in the league in ERA+, and when James Paxton and Edwin Diaz are removed from the equation Seattle’s pitching stats are downright ugly.
So what happens to the Mariners while Cano is on the sidelines? Have your say here: