Reader poll: Can the Mariners survive pitcher injuries?

How is the Seattle Mariners’ pitching staff doing it?

Last week the Mariners placed starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, an injury that’s expected to keep him out four-to-six weeks.

That was just the latest piece of bad news for Seattle’s starting rotation. Iwakuma joined Felix Hernandez (shoulder), Drew Smyly (elbow) and James Paxton (forearm) on the DL. At the start of the season those were the Mariners’ top four starting pitchers. The only original member of the rotation who’s currently active is Yovani Gallardo, a guy signed as a free agent to serve as a veteran stopgap fifth starter.

And yet the Mariners haven’t taken a nosedive. In fact, Seattle is not just surviving, in some ways it’s thriving. Since Hernandez’s last start on April 25 the Mariners are 9-8. Paxton and Iwakuma started on May 2 and 3 respectively and haven’t pitched since. Since then Seattle is still 5-5.

A big part of that is because of Seattle’s offense, which has been good lately, averaging 5.1 runs per game since Iwakuma’s last start. Yet the pitching hasn’t fallen apart either, as the Mariners allowed 4.7 runs per game over that same span. And Seattle has done it while sending the likes of Ariel Miranda, Chase De Jong, Christian Bergman and whoever the team can call up from triple-A Tacoma that day to the mound.

Is this a formula that can sustain itself? The Mariners are going to have to find out. Of the four injured starters, only Paxton seems a possibility to return before June. There’s signs that the arrangement may be breaking down, as Seattle was just swept in a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. On the other hand, that sweep didn’t have a whole lot to do with the performance of the starters.

So what do you think?

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