The Mariners Traded For Gregory Santos

After the last deal, for Jorge Polanco, the Mariners made a weak spot that much more flimsy by raiding from a bullpen that was already down Paul Sewald (as well as promising youngsters Isaiah Campbell, Penn Murfee, and Matt Festa, among others we’ve shipped off over the last couple seasons). The loss of Justin Topa meant that our third-best reliever (and maybe our first-most-consistent reliever) was gone. I mean, can you imagine what a bullpen would look like with Sewald, Brash, Munoz, AND Topa? Well, we had it for most of last damn year, and look at where it got us!

Well, over the weekend, the M’s made a trade with the White Sox. We gave them reliever Prelander Berroa, minor league outfielder Zach DeLoach, and a very nice 69th overall draft pick. In return, we get reliever Gregory Santos.

Berroa was a promising reliever prospect who pitched primarily in AA last year, while drinking a sip of coffee with the Mariners in two appearances. There’s some incredible stuff there, a blazing fastball, tons of strikeouts, but also a little iffy on the command. I find it extremely interesting that the Mariners – an organization prized for developing bullpen arms – would give up on a prospect like Berroa. Maybe they’re worried about his arm holding up, maybe they doubt his ability to rein in his command. Whatever it is, it feels like he was the most talented of The Pile we have on the 40-man roster today. Ultimately, the thinking is: Santos has it right now, whereas Berroa might still be another year away. And if you believe that this team is trying to win in 2024 (which I’m still not so sure they are), then obviously you like a Santos more than a Berroa.

With Santos, there’s lots of club control, and instead of being a huge maybe, the belief is that he’s a legitimate stud. My concern is his durability and his ability to generate strikeouts.

He appeared in 60 games in 2023, all with the White Sox. In 2022, he pitched in 37 games (mostly in the minors); in 2021, he pitched in 17 games (also mostly in the minors), and in 2020 he didn’t pitch at all due to COVID. So, it’s no wonder he landed on the IL late last year with arm problems; the hope is that it was just fatigue. But, the Mariners tend to be one of those teams that over-taxes their bullpen, so I don’t know if I’m jumping for joy.

As for his strikeouts, it’s not like he DOESN’T strike batters out. But, he’s not in the upper echelon of a Brash or Munoz. He averaged 9.0 stikeouts per nine innings last year; Munoz averaged 12.3 and Brash averaged a whopping 13.6! What’s interesting about Santos is that he has reverse platoon splits. As a right hander, he’s actually BETTER against lefties. It’s a sample size of one season, but still. Lower batting average, on-base, slugging. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is leaps and bounds better. While Brash and Munoz aren’t BAD against lefties, when they do struggle, it tends to be because lefties get to them. Santos might be a salve for this problem. We can mix-and-match a little more, if an opposing team has a run of lefties coming.

What sounds crazy to me is that Fangraphs or someone has projected Santos to be the best reliever in baseball in 2024. If that’s the case, then DAMN is this a good deal!

Obviously, we don’t know what Zach DeLoach is going to turn into (or Gabriel Gonzalez, for that matter, from the Polanco deal), but neither projected to be much of anything for the Mariners in 2024. DeLoach played all of last year in Tacoma, and was presumably their best and most consistent hitter, but was he ever going to crack our ever-growing chasm of Quad-A utility guys? I mean, shit, we already have Haggerty, Raley, Canzone, Marlowe, Moore, Trammell, and Clase. And that’s not even factoring in Julio and Haniger! Frankly, DeLoach going to the White Sox feels like the best thing for him. My guess is, as someone who’s already been traded multiple times, he’s not going to pan out at the Major League level. But, if he does, a place like Chicago, with low expectations and lots of opportunity for at bats, just might do the trick.

In a future post, I’m going to write about the bullpen. There’s still work to do, but I don’t know if that’s going to come from outside the organization. All those developmental coaches are going to have to earn their paychecks this spring!

What We Can Be Happy About With This 2023 Mariners Season

I get it: being out of the playoffs is pretty irritating. This isn’t what we expected coming into the season; we were supposed to be a team on the rise and a team taking a step forward, after finally breaking the playoff drought in 2022. We had the core nucleus, we had the pitching, we just needed guys to play to expectations and we should’ve been all right. Did we do enough to get over the hump and become a division winner? No. We had a chance! Houston came down to Earth a little bit – which is something we definitely needed to happen for that to come to fruition – but we never expected Texas to be as good as they were, and that wrench ultimately ended our season.

Now, we have to move on. We have to look forward to next year. With a little bit of time to sit in our resentment, and reflect on what’s been done and what’s been said, now it’s time to rationally look back at what went right. We know what went wrong. The bottom of the order and the bench stunk. Many guys didn’t play to expectations. But, there were some positives as well, and we can’t just ignore them because we’re mad at the end result.

This organization isn’t going to blow everything up. The front office is staying intact. The manager and coaches are all being retained. There are guys under contract who likely aren’t going anywhere, and players with club control who still figure into our future plans. Unfortunately, we’re in a similar situation as the end of the 2022 season: needing to fill in around the margins. We didn’t get it right last offseason; we must get it right this offseason.

First and foremost, how do you not love what we got from J.P. Crawford? He came into 2023 as a legitimate fringe player. His 2022 season was arguably the worst of his Mariners career. He had terrible Spring Training numbers. He started out the year batting 9th, as everyone was calling on this team to upgrade at the short stop position. 2023 was as Make Or Break as it gets. And, to his credit, he put in the work last offseason at Driveline, he picked himself up, and he had the very best season of his career. He was a 5.0 WAR player; that’s leaps and bounds better than he’s ever been. He got his batting average back up to where it’s been in the past, he increased his on-base percentage quite a bit, and he slugged off the charts at .438. He hit 19 homers; 10 more than he’s hit in any other year! His 54 extra base hits were a career high. He pretty quickly found himself at the top of the batting order and never relinquished it, which I find most encouraging. That means he didn’t suffer a lot of prolonged, aggravating slumps. He was a guy we could always count on; for most of the year, he was the ONLY guy we could count on.

That’s a tremendous foundation on which to start. Short stop is secure for the foreseeable future. His defense seemed to bounce back a bit, he’s probably the best leader we could hope for among this player group, and where do you need to be strongest on a baseball field? Up the middle.

Which brings us to Julio. I can’t say it was a better season than 2022, but I do believe he took a step forward. Julio had a rough April in 2022, before going on a tear. In 2023, he REALLY struggled through June. Sophomore Slump was being bandied about. I think we all believed he’d pull out of it at some point, but I wasn’t sure he could get anywhere near where he was as a rookie.

Then, in July, he started picking it up. And that August, MY GOD. .429/.474/.724 slash line for the entire month; he was otherworldly! All of a sudden, he DID start to get back to where we all expected. But, then he cooled again in September. His slugging was still there, but everything else severely diminished. His WAR was 5.3 – tops on the team – but his entire slash line was a little bit worse compared to 2022. He had more doubles, homers, and stolen bases, but he also played in 23 more games.

All in all, I’m not worried about Julio. I think 2023 was a great learning experience for the young superstar. But, it wasn’t a wasted year for him, either. He didn’t have a learning experience while taking an extreme step back; he was still the best and most important player on this team, and I expect him to take these first two years and move forward as one of the best players in all of baseball.

Finishing with the Up The Middle motif, we have Cal Raleigh. Thank Christ for Cal Raleigh! This was his first full year. His first full year as the unquestioned #1 at catcher. And his first year where he wasn’t in jeopardy of being sent down to Tacoma to work on some things. He improved his batting average and on-base percentage, while taking a quiet step back in slugging. He had career highs in homers and doubles, but again, played in 145 games (compared to 119 in 2022). Where he REALLY took a step forward was with his defense; he was throwing dudes out left and right, really shutting down the run game of opposing offenses (in spite of the fact that this pitching staff isn’t always the greatest at holding runners).

I wouldn’t say Cal is a finished product either, though I don’t know if I would expect him to hit considerably above his .232 batting average. What matters is, like J.P., he didn’t suffer crazy lulls. He was pretty consistent all year. And, if you’re going to give me 30 homers from a catcher, I’m going to take that every time! Going forward, we don’t have to worry about Cal; he’s the guy. He’s going to be here for a good, long while. Hopefully, we can sign him to a long term extension sooner rather than later, because I think he’s going to be worth every penny. The concern lies in who his backup is going to be. Tom Murphy is a tremendous backup – when healthy – but he’s proven that we can’t count on him in that regard. We don’t want to blow Cal out with overuse, even though he’s a stud and wants to be out there every single day.

There’s a steep drop-off from there, as far as everyday players are concerned. I don’t want to get too into the weeds with Teoscar Hernandez – because I don’t know where he’s going to be next year – but I thought he did okay. He gave us almost what he showed he was in Toronto in 2022. Worse slash line, WAY too many strikeouts, but he was a 2.1 WAR player and that’s not nothing. He hit 26 homers and 29 doubles, while playing in 160 of 162 games. Yes, he had an abysmal start to his Mariners career, but he got it going as the season went along (and also enjoyed a torrid August), showing you what he’s capable of. I get the feeling it took him some time to figure out how to hit in this ballpark, but to his credit, he figured it out. He wasn’t a total waste of space like Jesse Winker and some of these other guys we’ve brought in. His overall numbers and production were pretty much what I would’ve expected out of a healthy Mitch Haniger, though I will say the defense was often a problem.

That’s all I got for the offense. On to the pitching.

Castillo, Gilbert, Kirby, excellent work, no notes! They had wonderful seasons. All 190+ innings pitched, all sub-4 ERAs, all with 179+ strikeouts, all with WHIPs 1.10 or lower. All 3.1 WAR pitchers or above. They obviously didn’t win as many games as we’d like (between 13-14), but that’s a reflection of the team as a whole. All had 18+ quality starts (out of 31-33 starts). It’s as ideal of a Top 3 in a starting rotation as you could hope for: all young, under contract/club control for years to come, and all elite in their own ways. On top of which, it was just Logan’s third Major League season, and Kirby’s second. The training wheels are off for all of these guys; we get to head into 2024 knowing that 3/5 of our rotation is not just set, but among the best in all of baseball. They continue to get better! They continue to introduce new pitches and find new ways to get batters out! Hell, I welcome the further influx of George Kirby knuckleballs! Bring it all on!

Now, were they all totally consistent all year long? No. Castillo and Kirby really came up short in that final week and a half. There were enough instances this season where their lines really left me scratching my head. But, that’s pretty nit-picky. On the whole, all three of these guys were tremendous, and I’m happy to go forward with them.

Sticking with the rotation, how do you not like what we got from Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo as rookies? They very much WERE under strict pitch counts and innings limits. They weren’t perfect, but they had ERAs of 4.32 and 4.21 respectively. They had K/9 rates of 8.2 and 9.5, which slots them quite nicely with our Top 3 listed above. Going into 2024, a rotation of just those five guys looks – on paper – to be outstanding!

We don’t know exactly what they are yet, though. They’re still very raw, very young, very inexperienced. I don’t know that they have a great command of their secondary/off-speed pitches. They were both fucking bananas against righties, but really had their struggles against lefties, and that has to get fixed if they expect to stay in the Major Leagues for the long haul.

  • Miller vs. Righties: 7.20 K/BB, .200/.234/.315, in 282 PA
  • Miller vs. Lefties: 2.94 K/BB, .303/.358/.558, in 255 PA
  • Woo vs. Righties: 7.25 K/BB, .179/.226/.268, in 191 PA
  • Woo vs. Lefties: 1.52 K/BB, .283/.389/.540, in 180 PA

That’s too stark of a difference. It’s a little Matt Brash-y. Excellent numbers for a reliever, but not so hot if you want to hack it as a starter.

With Marco Gonzales coming back for one more go-around – assuming we can’t find a trade partner for him – and with Robbie Ray still on the books for a tremendous amount of money (though, I was dismayed to hear he likely won’t be back until midseason, which means he probably won’t be back to normal until 2025), I think there’s a general sense among the fanbase that one of Miller or Woo won’t be here next year. That one will be traded to help bolster other areas of need. It makes sense, though it’s unfortunate. I can’t help but feel like it’s a case of We Can’t Have Nice Things. Just when we lock down the rotation as solidly as possible, we have to bust it up – YET AGAIN – to help out our feeble offense. I was surprised to hear that Woo is more liked than Miller, as far as the scouts and analytical people are concerned. That’s interesting, considering Miller passed the eye test a little bit more. He’s a little further along in his development, has more innings under his belt, and doesn’t have the injury history of Woo. But, whatever, I guess. Both guys looked awesome, and I hope we’re able to find a way to keep ’em around.

I can only go as far as Matt Brash, Justin Topa, and Andres Munoz with the bullpen. We had other nice-ish pieces – Gabe Speier, Tayler Saucedo, Isaiah Campbell all got an extended run, and looked decent as back-end of the bullpen kind of guys – Eduard Bazardo had good-looking stuff, Ty Adcock got a cup of coffee and looked decent, Prelander Berroa got a tiny cup of espresso and looked like a guy with tremendous upside, but I don’t know how much you can count on ANY of those guys. Especially when you consider, in 2022, we had the likes of Diego Castillo (who spent most of 2023 in Tacoma), Matt Festa (who had solid numbers in Tacoma, but isn’t even in the organization anymore), Penn Murfee (who got hurt, and isn’t expected to be healthy in time to start 2024), not to mention Paul Sewald (who famously was traded at the deadline). There’s so much flux with any bullpen, year to year, that it’s kind of pointless to project. If we get anything out of any of these lower tier guys in 2024, it’ll be gravy. I’m expecting nothing; I’m not even expecting they’ll be on the team.

You have to say Matt Brash was the best reliever on the team, especially after Sewald went to Arizona. There’s a lot to like here. 107 strikeouts was fifth on the team, behind our top four starters. 13.6 K/9 led the team. 3.06 ERA was very respectable. I wouldn’t say he gave us quite what we were expecting, but I think that’s because we were expecting the moon and the stars. Every report about his offseason was about how he might have the best slider of all time, in baseball history. Shit like that. As your #3 reliever behind Sewald and Munoz coming in? I think I expected something like a sub-1 ERA and maybe no more than 1 or 2 blown saves. Instead, you know, he was on the hook for 5 blown saves, and he got dinged with 4 losses. He had a somewhat rocky first couple months, but then improved over the rest of the season, and became the pitcher we all thought he’d be. He was the most reliable reliever we had by season’s end. And I think he improved enough – and worked on his pitch mix enough – to get even better in 2024.

Justin Topa came out of nowhere, as an older pre-arb player – to totally blow away expectations. Before 2023, he had played in no more than 7 games in any given season with the Brewers; this year he was in 75. He had an 8.0 K/9 rate, and had the best WAR of any Mariners reliever with 1.6 (over Brash’s 1.3). He wasn’t perfect – none of these guys were – but he was maybe the most consistently-good reliever we had, with no prolonged slumps. Every once in a while he didn’t have it, but you could say that about anyone; Topa didn’t cost us very many games, and was an incredible asset overall.

Andres Munoz, at least for me, barely qualifies for the theme of this post. But, he’s under contract through 2028 and isn’t going anywhere. He was fine. He wasn’t what he was in 2022, but an early-season injury took him out of commission for a good chunk of games. For as amazing as his stuff is, he was a little too inconsistent for me. As one of five regular relievers with 10+ K/9 (12.3), it’s clear his arm talent is pretty rare. But, his walk rate spiked, his K/BB rate dropped considerably (6.4 in 2022, 3.0 in 2023), and his splits vs. lefties and righties flip-flopped. He was better against lefties than righties in 2022; though still amazing against righties. But, while he was still strong against righties in 2023, he took a big dive against lefties, for whatever reason.

Ultimately, I’m not too worried. Though, I will say it’s concerning that he got hurt again. Remember, he missed all of 2020 and most of 2021 coming back from injury. He might just be a guy – with the way he throws – that he’s going to break down sooner than you’d hope. The M’s will want to take a good, hard look at this bullpen, and have more contingencies in place, so we’re not forced to rely on guys like Trent Thornton, Dominic Leone, Luke Weaver, and Juan Then types.

So, when you hear about the Mariners talking up their core guys, these are who they’re talking about. It’s a fine core! I like all these guys. But, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. There are guys who had really BAD 2023 seasons that need to be called out; we’ll get into that next time.

The Mariners Have A Bullpen Problem

The Mariners have lost three of their last four games, and it was damn near four in a row. All in the 9th inning or later. All thanks to a meltdown by either Andres Munoz or Matt Brash, ostensibly our two best relievers.

This bullpen problem didn’t happen immediately following the trade of Paul Sewald, but obviously that’s the move you point to. It’s been an especially bitter pill to swallow because Dominic Canzone and Josh Rojas have both had some VERY impactful hits late in games to pull our asses out of the fire; the irony being the fact that they were able to temporarily save us, but we didn’t have someone like Sewald to come in and lock it down.

In Paul Sewald news: after his own meltdown, he’s come back to save three games in four days this week. Oh cruel fate, why have you cursed us so?

The thing is, I would argue our bullpen problem predates the Sewald trade, though obviously it hasn’t helped matters. We came into 2023 believing the bullpen was the best and deepest part of this team, which has been anything but the case. Diego Castillo is struggling to stay afloat in AAA. Matt Festa, Chris Flexen, and Trevor Gott aren’t even in the organization anymore. Penn Murfee is on the 60 day IL. Now, we have the Sewald trade, and we’ve back-filled with some very uninspiring arms.

Isaiah Campbell seems to be used exclusively in mop-up duty during blowouts or lost causes. Trent Thornton has wildly unimpressive stuff (it’s no wonder he was previously DFA’d; he would be the last guy I’d use in a high-leverage situation). Ryder Ryan is the latest guy we’ve picked up off the scrap heap; he made his Major League debut at 28 years old last week, so we’ll see.

The guys who’ve stuck are, again, Munoz and Brash at the top. Justin Topa seems to get overlooked, but should probably have a bigger presence in high-leverage situations. Tayler Saucedo is an interesting breakout for this team, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily a high-leverage guy, so much as a solid 6th or 7th inning bridge arm against the bottom of the opposing team’s order. And Gabe Speier is your run of the mill lefty; he has good days and bad days.

As the Mariners have largely underperformed this season, it’s not exclusively due to the lack of hitting. It’s been kind of a nightmare scenario and you can point to two critical figures: our record in 1-run games (16-22) and our record in extra inning games (6-11). When you look at the 2021 and 2022 Mariners, those were pretty well reversed; the Mariners were remarkably clutch in tight games like these, and I would argue the bullpen played at a significantly higher level as a result.

See, it’s not JUST the hitting, it’s a collective effort. More often than not, yeah, we haven’t been able to get the big hit. But, sometimes it’s a poor start. And sometimes, these close games we used to nail down are being blown by relievers we’re forced to rely on.

What we’re starting to see is the hitting coming around. It’s a little later in the season than we’d like, but they’re finally doing their jobs. So, these blown saves, and these lost extra innings games are standing out a little more. It doesn’t help that we’ve bunched a number of these blown saves all in a row, now involving multiple pitchers. Maybe that’s just baseball. Peaks and valleys and whatnot. I’ll buy that to a point, but I think it also points to a bigger concern as we hit the stretch run. The Mariners need to win as many of these games as they can if we want to make it back to the playoffs. And even if we do manage to beat the odds and sneak into a wild card spot, can we really rely on these guys in a playoff situation?

It feels like we’re in need of one really awesome high-leverage arm. I had hoped Munoz or Brash would’ve stepped up to be one of those ace closers with a sub-2 ERA, but as we’ve seen all year, they’ve had their ups and downs. They’ll go through great runs of excellence, but then hit these spots where they’re extremely hittable, and then all hell breaks loose.

It’s a bummer, because the rotation has been largely amazing. And on the whole, the bullpen is pretty solid. But, the margin for error is so razor thin with this team that we can’t afford to be this bad in close games. This feels like a problem that’ll have to settle itself next year.

The Mariners Won Their Fourth Straight Series

It sounds good, until you realize it means the Mariners are just four games over .500.

You can glass half full this thing or glass half empty it. On the plus side, we’re talking about an 8-4 stretch, and I’ll always take that kind of success. On the down side, we’re 2-3 in that same span in 1-run games, which means it could be even better, if we were even the slightest bit clutch.

My point is, the Mariners need to sprinkle in some sweeps. It’s nice to win series, but we have a lot of ground to cover, in a short amount of time.

Monday’s 6-2 victory was pretty enjoyable. The Red Sox scored a bullshit run in the first thanks to two fielding errors by the Mariners’ defense (a run that was mystifyingly earned for some reason); it would prove to be the only blemish in an otherwise short day for George Kirby (5 innings, 1 run, with about 90 balls fouled off). But, the M’s bounced right back in the second with a solo Cal Raleigh homer. That was it until the 7th – with the Red Sox starter cruising until then – when Raleigh homered again to make it 2-1. Then, the floodgates opened in the 8th, as we finally knocked their starter out and nipped at their bullpen a bit.

On the day we lost Paul Sewald, the rest of the Mariners’ bullpen was pretty great. It got a little hairy in the top of the 8th; Munoz came in with two outs and two runners on, and struck out the next batter to finish it. By the time the 9th rolled around, we had amassed a 5-run lead, which meant we didn’t need the 4-out save by Munoz. Isaiah Campbell gave up a relatively harmless run, but got out of his own jam without further damage.

That closed the book on July. August started out with a major whimper, losing 6-4. Bryce Miller had his second consecutive bad game, and also his second consecutive game with diminishing fastball speed as it progressed. That’s … concerning. He gave up all 6 runs in 5.2 innings; all came after a clean first three innings for him. Not ideal for someone who wants to stick in the rotation longterm. Hopefully, this is just some dead arm from a rookie who isn’t used to pitching this much.

To their credit, the hitters kept fighting, against a pretty nasty starter from the Sox. Suarez had 3 RBI, including a 2-run homer. And France, Marlowe, and newcomer Canzone all got in on the fun. But, as a team, we were 2/12 with RISP. The newly-acquired utility player Josh Rojas was 0/4 on the day, 0/3 with RISP, striking out twice. Did he single-handedly cost us this game? Who’s to say?! Kolten Wong couldn’t have been worse, though; not that I’m the biggest Kolten Wong fan in the world. I’m just saying.

I was moderately impressed with Trent Thornton stepping in and pitching 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. He’s got an interesting repertoire for someone without the hardest stuff. I’ll be interested in tracking him the rest of the year. It was also nice to finally see Devin Sweet throw a scoreless inning after being called up from AA. It’s interesting to say the least that we still have some of these questionable rookies (Sweet, Campbell) on the Major League roster, while someone like Matt Festa – who was pretty solid for us last year – is languishing in Tacoma.

The Mariners won 6-3 on get-away day. Good on Logan Gilbert – who was subjected to a lot of chatter about possibly being traded in the last week – to shut out the noise and pitch a Quality Start his first turn after the deadline. That’s a pretty good Red Sox lineup, so I’ll take 6 innings and 3 runs anytime against them. And, once again, the non-Sewald leftovers in the bullpen did their jobs: keeping the Sox scoreless the rest of the way.

Once again, Cal Raleigh was a monster, with a 2-run homer to kick off our scoring in the 6th. That was only the beginning, though, as we put up a 4-spot in the 7th to wrestle control of the game from them. Suarez and Tom Murphy had 3 hits each, Julio continued his on-base streak with a hit and eventually stole home to score our final run of the day (on a nicely-timed double-steal). Canzone had a walk and a run, and Marlowe had a pinch hit single and RBI. Lots of good stuff here.

We’re on to Anaheim starting today, and of course we start off by going up against Ohtani on the mound. He’s been in fucking overdrive lately and pretty much all season, so I’m expecting to see a lot of damage inflicted upon us in this 4-game set. I wouldn’t be surprised if we fall all the way back to .500 when it’s all said and done, destroying all the progress we’ve made over the last 12 games.

The Mariners Got Beaten To Hell By The Yankees

You want I should look on the bright side, or focus on the negative?

On the bright side, last night’s 1-0 extra innings victory salvaged a 7-3 homestand. All things considered, if the Mariners go 7-3 in every set of 10 games the rest of the way, we should be in great shape for the playoffs.

Conversely, we were lucky we managed that narrow victory last night, and by all rights probably should’ve been blown out in all three games against the Yankees.

The M’s just didn’t look competitive, at all! There was so much hope heading out of that Pittsburgh series – that we could actually hang with the good teams – but the Yankees were a great test of that hypothesis, and we failed miserably.

The question we’re left with is: was it a matter of our pitching just being off for a couple games? Or is their hitting so good, it likely won’t matter what pitchers we throw out there against them?

Bryce Miller has had as hot a start to a Major League career as you can get. And the Yanks absolutely destroyed him. Miller had gone 6 or more innings in all five of his previous starts; on Monday, he couldn’t make it through five. Miller had given up 4 runs combined in his five previous starts; on Monday, he gave up eight. Miller had given up 13 hits combined in his five previous starts; on Monday, he gave up 11, including two homers (two more than he had given up to that point). It was a nightmare. You almost expect to give up some hard contact to the top of that lineup, but when Jake Bauers of all people is torching you, you know you probably don’t have it.

Things stopped looking so fluky on Tuesday, when we lost 10-2, a day after losing 10-4. This time, it was Logan Gilbert getting beaten to a bloody pulp (4 innings, 7 runs, 5 earned, including 2 more homers). We had to send Juan Then back down to Tacoma to make room for a long reliever, which was really perfect timing when you think about it. Darren McCaughan mopped up the final 3 innings – giving up 3 runs – and was subsequently returned to Tacoma for Matt Festa the very next day.

I’m not super interested in what the offense had to do this series, because the pitching never really gave us a chance to win. Until Wednesday. When we got the start of a lifetime from George Kirby.

He went 8 shutout innings, giving up only 3 hits, while striking out seven, all on 95 pitches. If he were a little more established in his Major League career, I bet we could’ve squeezed another inning out of him. Either way, it was absolutely what this team needed.

Unfortunately, the offense never really got going. We challenged them at times, but with only 5 hits and a walk on the day, it’s not like there were a ton of opportunities. Nevertheless, we were 0 for 5 heading into the 10th with runners in scoring position, before Cal Raleigh stepped up to the plate and knocked home the ghost runner from second with a single into right field. It wasn’t quite the playoff-clinching home run from last year, nor was it the 13 inning 1-0 barn-burner from earlier last year, but it was pretty damn exciting, and something this team sorely needed.

Now, we take a day off before starting our southwest road trip. First up: the first place Texas Rangers. We’ve already seen them once and lost two of three by a combined two runs. Still, they are 15 games over .500 already and just playing phenomenal baseball. I don’t think we can afford to lose this series.

After that, we’ve got two down in San Diego against the underperforming Padres, before heading to Anaheim to hopefully put some distance between us and the Angels (in the positive-for-us direction, naturally!).

2023 Mariners Bright Spots So Far

It can be easy to dump all over this season, for good reason. The Mariners were expected to compete for the A.L. West, or at the very least somehow make it back to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2000-2001. We’re very nearly two months into the year and the Mariners are 23-24. It’s embarrassing, it’s infuriating, and it’s starting to feel like we’re getting to the point of desperation. It’s starting to feel like this team needs to go on a massive tear just to get to where they should’ve been all along. Essentially, we’re required to bank on what happened last year – when the M’s won 14 in a row and 22 out of 25 – except the problem is, this team has thus far failed in what they’ve been so good at recently: winning in 1-run games. Sure, there have been blowouts so far that have contributed to a +27 run differential, but that just means we’re 3 games off of the pace of where we should be.

We’re 6 games out of first place. AND we have three other teams to leapfrog to get there. That’s not where you want to be, if the expectations coming into the season were to – again – compete for a division title.

On the flipside, it’s not like we’re the A’s. It’s not like we’re the White Sox. The Mariners are a team with a lot of talented players, and while there are a plethora of disappointments, there’s also a lot of bright spots that we didn’t necessarily see coming either.

My tendency is – when a team plays down to this level – to throw away the season and focus on next year. The problem with that is – unlike in years past – there’s still enough talent on this team, and it is still early enough (even though I hate that line of thinking as much as anyone), that we’re in our window right this second. I don’t WANT to focus on next year. Because, sure, while it’s interesting to imagine what this team might look like in 2024 and beyond, there are also a number of the same underperforming players who will be back as well. It’s not a matter of these bright spots continuing to make their mark; it’s a matter of everyone else playing up to the backs of their baseball cards. It’s about everyone being good at the same time and putting together a magical season. We’ve had the experience of 2022. We’ve made the playoffs, we won a series, and we played the eventual World Series champs the toughest of anyone they played in their entire post-season run last year. Now it’s time to take the next step.

But, instead of belaboring our woes, let’s look at the silver linings of 2023 through 47 games.

You have to start with Jarred Kelenic, obviously. Some people are on record – at least back in April – of saying they’d trade a slow team start for Kelenic turning into The Real Deal. I was definitely uncomfortable with that line of thinking, but I do think it’s a franchise-changer for Kelenic to not only be a solid platoon guy, but to be an All Star everyday player, against both righties and lefties. To have played himself not only into a starter role, but someone batting in the top third or top half of the lineup. It still might be too soon to take this to the bank – I mean, look at Julio’s 2022 vs. 2023 – but I also don’t think Kelenic is a flash in the pan. I think this is who he is, he’s unlocked something extra-special – something we all saw in him as a prospect since the Cano deal – and he projects going forward to be a vital piece of this team’s success. His average has dipped ever-so-slightly below .300, but the whole offensive package is exactly what you want. He’s the best player on this team this season, period. That’s extraordinary! It certainly wasn’t something I was anticipating coming in.

I’m not going to completely abandon the regulars from here on out, but let’s shift over to the pitching for awhile.

George Kirby has built on an already-phenomenal start to his career. He’s been the best pitcher on this team all season. 8 quality starts out of 9, and that one was his first start of the season, whch I’m more than happy to write off. He’s getting deep into games, he’s economical with his pitches, and he’s giving this team a chance to win every five days. The fact that we’re only 5-3 in his quality starts says more about this offense and how it’s let the team down.

Bryce Miller has obviously come from out of nowhere, to a degree. He was on everyone’s radar coming out of Spring Training, but in another universe, he wouldn’t have gotten the call-up until late May or June. He’s 4 for 4 in quality starts, and two of them came against the Astros and Braves. He’s also getting deep into games, he’s also economical with his pitches, and more importantly, he’s helping us all forget how much we were counting on Robbie Ray to be a central part of this rotation. We essentially replaced a former Cy Young Award winner with another Cy Young-calibre arm.

There are a number of nice bullpen pieces who have stepped up, even if the bullpen as a whole has been a little inconsistent (and not quite up to snuff compared to recent seasons). Justin Topa, Gabe Speier, Trevor Gott, and Juan Then all have quality stuff and solid numbers so far. They’ve helped us through some poor outings by Brash, Castillo, Festa, and Sewald, and injuries to Munoz and Murfee. It’s kind of mind-blowing how we’re able to keep reloading a stacked bullpen, while overcoming the expected high-variance year-to-year performances you get with a segment of the team that’s always so volatile.

While I don’t want to dismiss the inconsistencies of Logan Gilbert and Luis Castillo, they’ve also had some dynamic outings so far, and it’s not hard to see these guys continue to chug along and give you the quality outings you’ve come to expect so far in their careers. The starting rotation is, far and away, the strength of this team, and pretty much the only reason why we’ve even managed to hang around .500. The hitting will start to come around at some point, so having our 1-4 spots in the rotation being so good will give us a great chance to go on that significant winning streak we need to climb back into contention.

I’m happy to shout out J.P. Crawford in this particular blog post, because I think a lot of us were really down on him after his 2022 (especially the way it ended with a whimper). He’s always been kinda streaky, but all too often he goes in the tank for long stretches, leaving his overall numbers a little lackluster. But, especially as we started this year with so many hitters in the tank, it was nice to have some consistent production from our slap-hitting short stop. Indeed, he’s actually hitting a good number of extra-base hits for him – mostly doubles – but more importantly he’s still getting on base at a great clip. His on-base percentage leads the team among qualified players, and he has since elevated himself to leadoff hitter once again (thanks in large part to Julio’s struggles, but still). And just anecdotally, the only hitter I’m more comfortable with right now in a big spot than J.P. is Kelenic. J.P. is one of the great leaders on this team, and so far he’s been leading his ass off!

Finally, let’s round out this post with Jose Caballero. It’s WAY too early to lower the Mission Accomplished banner with him, but the M’s have been in a desperate search to shore up the second base position since the Cano deal, opting to go with veteran savvy on short-term deals the last two years. Adam Frazier was a dud, and so far Kolten Wong has made us long for the days of Adam Frazier (it’s not surprising to see him have a little bit of a bounce-back season with the Orioles so far). Once Caballero started seeing playing time (we got him as sort of an A-ball level Just A Guy in a deadline deal with the Diamondbacks in 2019 for Mike Leake), I think we all thought he’d only be keeping Dylan Moore’s bench spot warm for him until he healed up. But, with Wong sucking, Caballero has gotten more and more opportunities, and he’s certainly made the most of them! So far, Caballero has played in 8 fewer games and had 38 fewer at bats than Wong, but he has the same number of doubles, infinity more homers, is crushing him in all slash figures (OPS of .802 vs. .468), and already has a 2 WAR advantage (0.8 vs. -1.3)! All in his first-ever Major League season! I mean, what the fuck?! I don’t know if this is going to continue for Caballero, but it certainly looks like he’s getting more comfortable in all facets of the game. We’ll see if he sticks as a long-term solution to our second base woes. But, right now? Caballero is a godsend, and the Mariners can certainly use more of that.

The Mariners Couldn’t Quite Complete The Sweep Of The Tigers

On the flipside: it’s a series win. Right now, just stringing together a bunch of series wins – even if they’re 2 of 3 – is what’s in order. Let’s hope we can keep it going for more than this one.

Friday’s game was an impressive 9-2 victory. Marco got another Quality Start under his belt (6 innings, 2 runs), the bullpen was nails, but the offense stole the show. Julio bounced back with 3 hits, 2 runs, and 4 RBI. Ty France had 2 hits, 2 runs, and an RBI. J.P. had a hit, 2 runs, and an RBI in the leadoff spot. Everyone in the lineup got on base, and everyone but Suarez either had an RBI, a run scored, or both.

Saturday’s game was even better! A 5-0 shutout starring Bryce Miller who went 7 of those innings, giving up just 3 hits and 0 walks, with 3 strikeouts. For those keeping track at home, that’s 3 starts for Miller at the Major League level. 19 total innings, 7 hits, 1 walk, 18 strikeouts, and yeah, just the 1 run allowed. It’s an insane start to a career! I don’t know how else to describe it; this is the stuff of legends!

Kelenic hit a 2-run bomb, Teoscar had 3 hits (including a homer) and 2 RBI, and that was more than enough.

Which brings us to Sunday, where we blew a 3-1 lead en route to a 5-3 defeat.

Logan Gilbert didn’t have the most amazing stuff going in this one, and really struggled to get through 5.2 innings. The shame of it all is that we knocked out their starter in the third inning, yet all we could manage was just the three runs. It was a combination of shitty Mariners hitting and REALLY shitty Mariners hitting.

Also, I’m not convinced the Mariners know what the fuck they’re doing with Matt Brash. Why is he going on back-to-back days when he’s been so fucking up and down this season? Why is he still being put into high-leverage situations when he’s wild as fuck and either walking the world or giving up huge chunks of the plate to get mashed? Why is he on the Mariners AT ALL, when he should be working through these issues in Tacoma?! Why isn’t Matt Festa back? Clearly he’s over-qualified for Tacoma; he’s given up 1 run in 15 innings.

That’s the kind of game that really sours an entire weekend. Yeah, the Mariners won 2 of 3, but it should’ve been a sweep and it wasn’t. This team just rolls over all too often. In this case, the biggest culprit was going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. The only cherry on top that we managed to avoid was this not being a 1-run game, of which we still have that abysmal record.

We’re 20-20 through 40 games. We have a +24 run differential, but we’re currently in 4th place in the A.L. West. Now, we’re continuing our East Coast road trip with a 3-spot in Boston, before an off-day and another 3-spot in Atlanta. We’ll see, I guess.

This Whole Robbie Ray Injury Really Threw A Wrench Into This Mariners Season

There’s a couple ways to look at the Robbie Ray season-ending injury in his first (and only) start of the year. On the one hand, he was a guy brought in before the 2022 season to be your ace, and he subsequently struggled against the better teams in baseball (and by that I mean the Houston Astros, where he went 1-2 in the regular season, with a 10.97 ERA and a .442/.509/.865 slash line against). He also, not for nothing, was coming off of a God-awful playoff run where he laid an egg in Toronto (before the offense bailed him out late), then blew game one of the ALDS by giving up a walk-off home run. The fact that he mopped up the last two outs of that 18-inning final game – after the winning run had already been scored – was of little comfort to many Mariners fans who lost all faith in Ray’s abilities as an effective, front-of-the-rotation starter.

He came into the organization as the team’s ace, was bumped to the team’s #2 after the Luis Castillo trade, but he quickly got demoted in the playoffs to being a leverage reliever to being just a last-resort guy finishing off an 18-inning game once it was clear he was being eaten alive by these high-octane offenses. If he couldn’t put up zeroes in Toronto, there was no way we were trusting him against that Houston offense that had beaten him like a red-headed step-child all year.

So, that was the taste left in our mouths heading into 2023.

On the flipside, though, Robbie Ray has always been kind of up and down in his career. He still put up a lot of outstanding outings in 2022 – once he started incorporating the 2-seam fastball into his repertoire – and there are A LOT of innings to fill in a 162-game season. At his best, he’s proven he’s a Cy Young winner. At his worst, he’s still better than Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen.

And, if you’re a dreamer, you heard all the stories about his Spring Training performance. How he’d rededicated himself to building up his fastball speed, how he’d been working on a splitter to give himself another out pitch (and how that splitter appeared to be the most effective of the new pitches this staff had introduced in the offseason). You were told that Ray’s experience and mindset were of the variety that he’d be able to flush that 2022 season and bounce back in a major way (in effect, giving this rotation not one, but two aces).

You had a choice to make: did you believe the end to Ray’s 2022 season meant the premature end of his career as a viable starter in the Major Leagues? Or, did you believe in the redemption story?

Well, TOO FUCKING BAD, you don’t get the answer to those questions, because he pitched 3.1 innings in game one, was pulled, and immediately went on the IL. After a rest period, it was discovered he needed surgery to repair a flexor tendon, as well as have Tommy John surgery. That’s apparently 12-18 months of recovery, on top of which pitchers never come back right away to be as effective as they once were. I think, best case scenario, you’re looking at Robbie Ray (as we know him) coming all the way back in 2025, when he’ll be 33 years old and in the fourth year of his five-year deal.

It’s unfortunate that the injury happened at all, but it’s especially disheartening that it happened so early in the season. We effectively got nothing out of Ray in 2023, and are now required to spread his 190 innings across lesser pitchers in the organization.

That started with Chris Flexen – our de facto sixth starter – who was pulled up from the bullpen. The good news was that he was still stretched out from Spring Training; the bad news was that he was a fucking disaster, and after four fucking miserable starts, he was re-demoted to the bullpen. Then, we got one miracle game out of Easton McGee before he hit the IL, necessitating us to go to our … eighth starter?

There could be a silver lining here, if Bryce Miller turns out to be the next Logan Gilbert or George Kirby. Getting him going now – at the beginning of May – will allow him to work out the kinks of learning at the Major League level. But, is it too soon? He’s had 14 starts at the AA level across the last two seasons. He’s already young for THAT level, which means he’s an infant when it comes to the bigs.

Miller was always going to be a bullet in our chamber for 2023. We knew going in that it would be nearly impossible for the Mariners to replicate how fortunate they were from a health standpoint in their 2022 rotation. But, unleashing that bullet so soon doesn’t leave us with much of anything else in reserve, either if he doesn’t pan out, or if we suffer more injuries to our staff.

I just can’t believe how bad Flexen has been this year. In 2021 and 2022, he was at least a league-average starter! He’d eat innings, while keeping his pitch count low, and he’d keep us in ballgames. It wasn’t always the prettiest, but he got the job done. And now, it’s like he’s completely lost it!

I was always of the belief, though, that this rotation would be carried by Castillo, Gilbert, and Kirby. If Ray was great, then that’s a huge bonus, and probably means the Mariners are contenders for the division. But, I severely underestimated Ray’s importance to the 2023 Mariners. As it’s played out, we see what he meant to the stability of this rotation. It’s been a nightmare from Game 2 onward! Hopefully, Bryce Miller can right the ship, and we can get back on course.

It’s just a bummer – on a fan level – knowing that we never got to see the full potential of the 2023 Mariners (and we never will). Not even for one weekend! It would’ve been something to see this team – the way it was meant to be – in the heart of the summer, kicking ass and taking names at 100% full strength.

I’ll also say this: losing Ray puts significant strain on our bullpen, now having TWO starters (Miller and Kirby) who will need their innings limited and their pitch counts closely monitored. We’re talking about a bullpen that has Andres Munoz on the IL, that has Diego Castillo AND Matt Festa in Tacoma, and that’s seen Matt Brash have some more difficulties after we thought he’d be a finished product coming out of Spring Training.

Hold onto your butts, everyone. We still have a ton of baseball left to go.

God Damn These Mariners Have Been Annoying So Far!

Suffice it to say, I’ve been on vacation for Spring Break the last week. It was, uhh, not warm.

Frozen Lake Is Frozen

So, yeah, I haven’t had to slog through these 4-6 Mariners like the rest of you. I went to the game on Opening Night, the M’s won a thrilling 3-0 game over the Guardians that just zipped by, then I took the next day off of work, then I flew out to Minnesota with my family for lots of indoor activities at an otherwise lovely timeshare.

But, I’ve also been there with you, at least following along on Twitter. And it hasn’t been pleasant! Every time I turn around, the Mariners are blowing leads, getting hurt, giving up huge chunks of runs, throwing the ball all over the field (except where it’s supposed to go), and otherwise struggling to consistently hit offensively (with a few exceptions).

I can’t even can absolutely begin to tell you what’s the most disappointing aspect of these 2023 Mariners through 10 games, and (all apologies for the recency bias) I’m leaning towards the bullpen.

Yesterday’s game was potentially HUGE, and it’s infuriating to me that we blew it. Just, in general, the difference between being 5-5 and 4-6 is everything. 5-5 is so much more palatable, after a 2-5 start (with series losses at home to both the Guardians and the fucking Angels). While 4-6 obviously isn’t the end of the world, that game was the nail in the coffin for our season series against Cleveland. Had we won, we would’ve been 4-3 against them on the year (and, as such, had the tiebreaker over them come playoff time). Instead, they’re the ones who are 4-3 over us, and will take that advantage with them through the rest of the season. Cleveland figures to be direct competition with us, either as divisional champs, or as wild card fodder. Now we have to beat their record by a game if we want to stay ahead of them in the seeding.

What the fuck happened to Matt Brash?! What was all this shit about him having the best slider in Major League history? Seems a little premature and totally outlandish, if you ask me. We were fucking all set up with a 2-run lead in the bottom of the 9th and he fucking gagged it away. We really need him to come through, as the bullpen has been regularly taxed in this early going, and now that we’re down Andres Munoz (one of a disturbing number of injuries to high profile pitchers already, not even two weeks into the season), Brash figures to get the lion’s share of high-leverage situations not going to Paul Sewald.

Frankly, ONE injury is too many. But, we lost Robbie Ray after his first start of the season (after he looked so effective in Spring Training), forcing our hand in starting Chris Flexen, who is … fine. Munoz’s arm was not responding after outings, which is concerning to say the least, given the way he throws. Then, I heard Evan White has another major injury that’s going to cost him the first half of this season (if we’re lucky, it won’t be the whole year; either way, it’s another huge setback to his development).

And, oh by the way, Matt Festa has stunk (and was demoted to Tacoma this week), Brash has two blown saves already, Penn Murfee has two losses on the year (in spite of his 0.00 ERA), Diego Castillo has been predictably ineffective, and we had to call up someone named J.B. Bukauskas, who is someone I’ve never heard of in my life.

You can’t really absolve the starters though, because other than Luis Castillo (who has been OUTSTANDING through two starts, so it’s probably time to jinx him as he takes the hill later today), they’ve been pretty rough. Certainly not the strength of this team that we were all counting on heading into this season. Of course, it’s too early to panic, but not too early to at least be a little concerned.

I’ll be honest, the offense as a whole is pretty much what I expected. We’ve scored 43 runs in 10 games, that feels pretty close to what this team is. .234/.299/.374 as a team; you kinda expect the on-base numbers to improve, and the power numbers to drastically improve, but for now it is what it is. France, Julio, Cal, and Suarez are all top-notch. Kelenic has been showing some excellent progress (also helped by the lack of a shift).

But, on the flipside, we’re still waiting for Teoscar to get going. Kolten Wong has been a disaster. Indeed, all the newcomers – including Pollock, Hummel, and La Stella – have been atrocious so far. Combine that with getting nothing out of Murphy, Haggerty, or Moore (who’s still injured), and things could really be a lot better.

I think what’s most infuriating has been the defense. I don’t know if this is randomness or what, but there have been some serious breakdowns in the field, and that’s not helping matters in the slightest. Not with how the pitching has sucked, and how the hitting is just barely keeping its head above water.

I think what’s been most concerning has been our lack of success in the close games. We’re only 2-4 in games decided by 2 runs or less. That’s gotta change, and in a big way, if we want to contend for the division this year. The down-roster part of our bullpen needs to step it up in a big way. I’m including Brash in that, because until he proves over a lengthy period of time that he can hang, I can’t say I totally trust him in high-leverage situations.

I guess the good thing is, no one is running away with the A.L. West so far. We’re tied in record with Houston. The A’s are who we thought they were (2-7), and the Rangers and Angels are only 5-4 (hardly world beaters, as expected). It’s all still there for us, but we can’t go digging ourselves too big of a hole. We can’t come to depend on crazy-insane surges over the course of a season, like last year when we won 14 in a row and 22 out of 25. That doesn’t just happen every year.

But, also, we can’t freak out at every 4-6 stretch. Because this won’t be the only time this season where the Mariners play at a .400 level. It’s a long year. 152 more games to go.

Let’s go out tonight and get a W to start the new week off on a brighter note.

I Think We Have An Opening Day Roster For The Mariners!

Nothing is official, of course. There could always be a last-minute transaction, or a surprise injury or something. But, barring anything crazy, I think we have a 26-man roster.

The Starting Pitchers

  • Luis Castillo
  • Robbie Ray
  • Logan Gilbert
  • Marco Gonzales
  • George Kirby

This all checks out, right down to the order. Teams love the righty-lefty-righty back and forth, and this is about as perfect as it gets. I know we all love George Kirby and see him as having really explosive potential in his second year in the bigs, but the team is smart to protect his arm a little bit. Hold him back, let him ease into the season, maybe skip a start here and there. If all goes according to plan, Kirby will still get some play in the post-season, with hopefully a still-fresh arm.

I’m excited to see what we’re able to get from this unit. The Mariners will go as far as their pitching takes them, so we’re going to need these guys to stay healthy and stay dominating. That’s going to be a tough proposition – considering how healthy they all were last year. Odds are against us that they stay healthy again. But, if they do? Watch out!

The Relief Pitchers

  • Andres Munoz
  • Paul Sewald
  • Matt Brash
  • Diego Castillo
  • Matt Festa
  • Trevor Gott
  • Penn Murfee
  • Chris Flexen

It’s hard to argue with the sheer arm talent of this group. I know, relievers are volatile. But, I find it really hard to believe that all or most of these guys will take steps back. Maybe one or two, but that’s fine because we also have a lot in reserve down in the minors. There’s no shortage of impact arms in this organization, who will all cycle through at one point or another.

I am interested in what Chris Flexen brings to the table. There was talk heading into Spring Training that the Mariners might go with a 6-man rotation. Maybe I misunderstood, and they were just talking about how we had 6 viable starters on our roster. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what his workload looks like. He didn’t play a ton after he lost his starting job last year. You would think in the early going, there will be more opportunities, as most starters aren’t in mid-season form yet. But, by the same token, you hope there aren’t more opportunities, because there’s a 50/50 chance that means we’re getting blown out. The less Flexen pitches, the more we’re using our high-leverage pitchers, which means the more we’re either winning or tied in a particular game.

The Starting Nine

  1. Kolten Wong (2B)
  2. Julio Rodriguez (CF)
  3. Teoscar Hernandez (RF)
  4. Ty France (1B)
  5. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
  6. Cal Raleigh (C)
  7. Tom Murphy (DH)
  8. Jarred Kelenic (LF)
  9. J.P. Crawford (SS)

For what it’s worth, that’s my official prediction for an Opening Day lineup. I feel relatively confident about the top six; I feel least confident about Tom Murphy. But, I’ll say this, he’s got tremendous power, he’s a veteran, and with the third catcher, this really doesn’t hurt us if someone goes down mid-game. In a game that figures to be low scoring, one big swing of the bat might make all the difference, and maybe that swing comes from Murph.

The Bench/Platoon Bats

  • A.J. Pollock (OF)
  • Sam Haggerty (UTIL)
  • Cooper Hummel (C/OF)
  • Tommy La Stella (INF/DH)

These guys have probably a month to figure out who belongs and who doesn’t, before Dylan Moore (hopefully) returns from the IL. I don’t think Pollock is going anywhere, he seems pretty entrenched as a platoon partner for Kelenic. I also don’t think Haggerty is going anywhere unless he is in an absolutely miserable slump; but odds are he won’t be playing much outside of late-inning pinch runner duty. La Stella seems like the favorite to be cut, but I also wonder how much he’s even going to play in the early going? He might get a DH start here and there, but I could also see this team playing Pollock at DH along with Murph (and the other starters we opt to give some rest).

If La Stella can get off to a hot start, though, maybe we hang onto him a bit in favor of sending Hummel down to Tacoma. Doubtful, but you never know.

Top to bottom, 1-26, this is a quality roster. With, encouragingly, lots in reserve to come up and help in a pinch. I can’t wait for tomorrow night!