The Mariners believe the playoff drought is just the beginning

SEATTLE (AP) – The Seattle Mariners’ season came down to a combination of undisputed success and a disappointing conclusion.

The year was filled with peaks and valleys that included an unforgettable summer in the Pacific Northwest that made baseball fun again and returned the Mariners to relevance. It ended with the Houston Astros sweeping Seattle in the AL Division Series.

The Mariners now enter the offseason knowing they were the better team for much of the series, which could be the springboard they need as they try to reach their goal of making the World Series.

“We were starved to play playoff baseball here,” manager Scott Servais said. “We have him here. Now we have to take the next step and try to improve our club in any way we can.”

Seattle’s season was headed for collapse and likely turnover when the Mariners were 29-39 in mid-June after losing four of five games at home to the Los Angeles Angels. From that point on, Seattle went 61-33, including a 14-game winning streak, and clinched the team’s first playoff berth since 2001 in the most dramatic fashion possible, with Cal Raleigh’s home run in the bottom of the ninth on September 30 against Oakland.

Raleigh was one of a number of young players who made their mark this season. None more so than All-Star Julio Rodríguez, the overwhelming favorite to be named Rookie of the Year. First baseman Ty France was also an All-Star, and Seattle assembled a pitching staff that is the envy of most in baseball.

Winning the wild-card series and reaching the ALDS was satisfying for a playoff-starved fan base. Now it remains to be seen how the Mariners build and replenish in the offseason and how ready that makes them to challenge the Astros.

“We all know what it takes to get here and get past this point, so we have to prepare,” JP Crawford said. “I’m very motivated to come back here next year. I can not wait.”


Rodriguez appears certain to become Seattle’s fifth rookie hitter this year after hitting .284 with 28 home runs and 75 RBI and stealing 25 bases despite missing time with wrist and back injuries. The 21-year-old was the burst of energy the Mariners needed, not to mention the answer in center field. Rodríguez should be the face of baseball in Seattle for the next ten years.


What has made Seattle so good over the last two-thirds of the season is its elite pitching staff, which is why there is so much optimism going forward. Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby are all under club control through the 2026 season after the four combined to go 37-25 with a 3.41 ERA in 100 starts. Throw in workhorse Marco Gonzalez, versatile Chris Flexen and minor leaguer Emerson Hancock, and the Mariners have plenty of pitching depth that could provide them with trade options for a potential offensive addition.

established YOUTH

Several younger players should have big roles in 2023. Raleigh has established himself as one of the best catchers in the American League with his pitching stick and after hitting 27 home runs. Raleigh has played the last month with a fractured left thumb and ligament damage that will have to be watched during the offseason. Jarred Kelenic will likely be one of the corner outfielders heading into next season, while Sam Haggerty is almost certain to have an important role off the bench.


Eugenio Suarez was an afterthought when Seattle acquired him and Jesse Winker a season ago. Winker appeared to exit Seattle with a disappointing season, while Suárez was established as the Mariners’ third baseman down the stretch. Suárez was better than expected defensively and hit a team-high 31 homers. His personality was also a perfect fit for the clubhouse.


With its starting pitching locked in and most of its position players solidified, Seattle should be selectively aggressive this offseason. The biggest decision will be what to do with right fielder Mitch Haniger. Seattle could make a qualifying offer, seek a long-term deal or let the veteran walk. The middle infield will likely be a target after Adam Frazier’s lackluster season. Regardless of whether or not Carlos Santana returns, having another left-handed bat or switch will be important.


AP MLB: and

The Latest

To Top