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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with Lookout Landing

John Trupin talks injured pitchers, expectations, and answers some other questions ahead of the Seattle series

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers kick off their second meeting of the season with the Seattle Mariners this evening. To get an update on a team in a place not too different than the Tigers, we asked John Trupin, one of the editors at Lookout Landing to answer a few questions for us.

BYB: Here we are nearing the end of June and our series features two pretty similarly situated teams. Both a handful of games under .500 and sitting in fourth place in their respective divisions. Detroit, not having the juggernaut that is the Houston Astros in their division, still harbors the illusion of competing. I'm guessing that's not the case for the Mariners. Am I right about that? Overall, how has this team stacked up against expectations at this point in the season?

John: The Astros look insurmountable at this point. Coming into the season there was a range of opinions on the Mariners running anywhere from ".500 team" to "90 win team," but we've been pretty clear from the start about the division. The Astros have graduated out of their adorable Lastros chrysalis and are a horrifying fire-breathing butterfly (dragonfly?) that makes the wild card the only realistic focus for the Mariners.

BYB: I see Drew Smyly is throwing bullpen sessions, and his arm hasn't fallen off. What's the timeline on his return and what do you hope to see from him going forward?

John: Pitches from a baseball mound in a Mariners uniform this season, honestly. Smyly had a flexor bundle strain in his elbow, which was initial diagnosed as a "soggy arm." We're used to rain as Mariners fans but will never trust that word again. Theoretically Smyly could start throwing more seriously in a couple weeks, and the initial target time for his return was July. If nothing goes wrong (hah) it looks like right after the All-Star break is the likeliest time for his return.

BYB: Speaking of injured pitchers, the Seattle starting rotation has taken quite the hit here recently. You got Paxton back not to long ago. When do Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma make their return, and how does the starting rotation change when that happens?

John: YOU TAKE THAT BACK ABOUT (checks probable starters list for this week) SAM GAVIGLIO AND CHRISTIAN BERGMAN. Ugh. It's honestly miraculous this team is still hanging around the rest of the league with their rotation. Félix looked comfortable on Saturday in his final rehab start and he's returning on Friday. Who he will displace is uncertain, but likely will be Gaviglio or Bergman since the equally terrifying Yovani Gallardo has a MLB contract to shield him. Kuma should be back in another week or two, which would be more exciting if he hadn't looked like Jered Weaver's kind-hearted twin on the mound this year. He's topping out at 85 in rehab so I'm not expecting much.

BYB: If you could reach in and remove one Detroit player from the lineup for this upcoming series who would it be and why?

John: There are so many choices I really can't decide which one — hahaha just kidding. Get Ian Kinsler out of the paint this instant. I don't care one iota about his 91 wRC+ or his career low .375 slugging. I don't even care about his slightly below-average numbers against the Mariners historically. The man has feasted on Félix Hernández and is not to be trusted, even when The King isn't appearing this series.

BYB: Kyle Seager is hitting .264 with a .744 OPS and 7 home runs. These numbers don't seem terribly far off his career averages, but after the season he had in 2016 do you feel like the Seager's season, to date, is a disappointment?

John: Kyle has been disappointing this year. As you highlighted it's not as though he's been a BAD player when quality was expected, he's just been good after showing us greatness. I've never seen a player harder on himself than Kyle Seager, and if he struggles this week you'll see lots of pained grimaces, internal snarls, and bats held over head futilely. Seager has a steady reputation, but he's honestly pretty streaky. He's always been a miserable player in April, but May and June he's usually turned it on. Last year's M's were a total stars and scrubs show. This year, they need their stars to step up a bit more on the field.

BYB: Finally, I'll give you the chance to prognosticate a bit. What's your prediction for how this series plays out?

John: This is a series I honestly feel pretty good about. The Mariners have played better at home this year, and from what I've seen Jordan Zimmermann looks pretty out of sorts? The Mariners' rotation has some pretty unimpressive numbers for a few reasons. Primarily, outside of James Paxton, they're not very good. To counteract that, the team overhauled its outfield and now has four plus defenders out there to chase down anything that doesn't leave the ballpark. Ariel Miranda enjoys this as much as anyone, and he tends to be as terrifying to root for as he can be frustrating to root against. I think the M's have a good shot in the first two games and game three is a toss-up. I hope y'all are as excited about Verlander-Paxton, because we are stoked.

Thanks again to John for taking the time to answer our questions. You can find his work along with all the outstanding Seattle Mariners coverage you could possibly desire at Lookout Landing.