Violet Jessop was a sailor. Argentine born to Irish immigrants in the 1880s, she spent her childhood caring for younger siblings, three of whom are deceased. She herself survived a bout of tuberculosis, back when it was something that would almost certainly kill you, shortly before her father died. When her mother also fell ill, Jessop became a flight attendant aboard the RMS Olympic, the largest luxury liner of its time. On September 20, 1911, the Olympic collided with a British Navy vessel. She suffered the death of her siblings and her father, tuberculosis and a boating accident. Violet Jessop was a sailor, but not lucky.
That makes her somewhat similar to Chris Flexen, who has a perfectly reasonable 4.24 ERA in his first seven starts this year, but only had seven rounds of support in those starts. Have you been frustrated with the 2022 Mariners offense? Try talking to Chris Flexen. Last night, Flexen allowed three of five runs and a third, and the Mariners could only muster two runs behind him.
I will repeat: seven starts, seven support races. In his first start of the year, the Mariners were shut out by Minnesota. In his second start of the year, the Mariners were shut out by Houston. In his fifth start of the year, the Mariners were shut out by Houston. Again. In his sixth start of the year, the Mariners were shut out by Philadelphia. That’s four shutouts in seven starts. Although he’s doing exactly what you hire Chris Flexen to do – limit hard touches, eat innings (he lasts one more inning per game than the average starter), give the offense a chance to win – Flex has been scored with six losses in his seven starts. Remember the time he sailed against Tampa and then an easy-deflected ground ball off his foot, which scored a run, Tampa’s second in a game that ended 2-1? It was hard to watch.
When Flexen was pulled after holding serve against the mighty Astros but the Mariners were destroyed by Justin Verlander, Flexen needed a boost from Sun Hat Award winner Sergio Romo. pic.twitter.com/CQUkTudp3h
— Action Zach (@RealZachMason) May 17, 2022
Chris Flexen is the only starter in MLB to average one support streak per start or less. It’s a phenomenon Mariners fans know all too well, having seen the best of Félix Hernández lost in the futility of 1-0 defeats followed by 2-1 defeats. Félix has had 45 starts in his career in which he allowed one or zero runs and yet failed to win. This, and the debut of Flexen, are the kind of examples people use when they argue that pitching wins and losses mean nothing. And I’m generally ok with that, except they count for pitchers themselves. It may be irrational, but has anyone ever tried to talk you out of thinking that something you care about is important? Let’s not forget pitchers are people, and if we’re their fans, we should care how they feel.
Violet Jessop cared about how people felt. After her bad luck streak, things seemed to be looking up for her when she got to work on a ship that had no history of accidents, a brand new ship, in fact: the RMS Titanic. While Billy Zane passed a child as his own to make his way into a lifeboat, Jessop stayed on the ship to show non-English speaking passengers how to put on their life jackets and eventually cared for a baby actually abandoned. on a lifeboat.
Execution support is essentially random. Chris Flexen is not responsible for the fact that the offense scored eight points on Sunday but only two on Monday. But he looks sad, like he’s been cursed by the baseball gods. But if I had the chance to comfort him like Sergio Romo did, I would remind him that he did everything he was asked to do. He’s been bad his entire career with the Mets; despite being considered a better prospect than Jacob DeGrom, he ran an RA/9 out of 8 and ran out of town. But after establishing himself at the KBO in 2020, he’s been exactly as advertised for Seattle, with an RA/9 under 4. That’s all we wanted from him. Here’s what Mikey wrote when announcing the signing:
And so, it remains to be seen how the Mariners plan to deploy Flexen. Apart from the rotation, it is very interesting. Off the bullpen, Flexen could be pretty good. It would be dishonest to suggest he may be Gallen or Lugo, so I don’t want anyone walking away thinking that. And it’s highly likely he’ll be a far cry from the pitcher he was in 2020. At the very least, though, he’s more interesting than his replacement in the rotation or the bullpen. And that’s enough for me.
When Flexen allowed just one run against the Astros and the Mariners offense didn’t show up again, he begins to wonder what’s going on. pic.twitter.com/KuVQ0IxkKk
— Action Zach (@RealZachMason) May 17, 2022
Violet Jessop’s lifeboat was one of those rescued by the Carpathians. And she kept a stiff upper lip on sea voyages because she had to. When mankind was fighting its first world war, Jessop wanted to help its victims, and so she served in the Red Cross. In 1916, she sailed aboard HMHS British when attacked by a warship or hit an underwater mine; historical accounts differ. As the ship sank, the propellers continued to spin, sucking in and shredding the lifeboats. Jessop had to abandon her lifeboat and hit her head against the keel of the ship, suffering a fractured skull: something she will only find out years after the fact when she goes to her doctor complaining persistent headaches. Nevertheless, she continued to serve as a sailor.
Flexen will also need to maintain a stiff upper lip. What Mikey wrote about Flexen 18 months ago still holds true, and the fact that the offense saves their points for Gonzales and Gilbert doesn’t change that. If you calculate his Pythagorean record using Flexen’s xFIP (4.20) and the Mariners’ average points scored per game (3.92), the Mariners should be 3-4 in Flexen’s starts, not 1-6. However, the pitcher’s credit would be split, Flexen would not have six losses. It’s just a tough job, and he should stay positive about his process. A winning percentage of .466 on your entry number four is acceptable. Playoff teams do that.
Even though the Mariners scored two runs last night despite being shut out in four of Flexen’s first five starts, last night was when it started to look less like a small sample of luck than to a trend. It’s not, but somehow we have to consciously remember it because we no longer feel like it’s a coincidence. So that’s my point. Do this mindful reminder. Hopefully Chris Flexen does too, because it can’t go on forever. After all, Violet Jessop, who endured three shipwrecks in five years, earning her the nickname “Miss Unsinkable”, ended up living to be 83, long enough to see a man walk on the moon. A sailor’s luck may change, and even if not, he may remain unsinkable.