Team Preview #22: Seattle Mariners
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2018 Record: 100-62, 2nd Place AL West, Lost ALCS to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2018 was another fantastic year in the Emerald City. The Mariners made the playoffs for the 5th straight time, winning 100 games and advancing to the ALCS. The team made a number of big moves over the past 8 months, will it pay off with a division title and their 2nd World Series title?
1B Matthew Kirkland (SD via Trade)
C Jackson Williams (FA)
RP Mace Thurman (WAS via Trade)
RP Mitch Carter (TOR via Trade)
CF Mariano Gonzalez (NYY via Trade)
SP Kyle Cody (NYY via Trade)
C Miguel Angel Alvarez (MIA via Trade)
RP Scott Alexander (CHC via Trade)
C Rob Brantley (TOR via Trade)
RF Xavier Macklin (NYY via Trade)
CL Robert Paullus (NYY via Trade)
SP Nathan Eovaldi (NYY via Trade)
RP Shawn Morimando (MIA via Trade)
3B Will Middlebrooks (FA)
1B Ike Davis (FA)
RP Antonio Bastardo (FA)
RF Aaron Hicks (FA)
3B Garin Cecchini (SF via Trade)
SS Starlin Castro (SF via Trade)
Given the park the Mariners play in, 2018 wound up being a pretty much as expected results wise. Offensively, their significant talent ended up 5th in Runs in the AL and their high team OBP (.344) offset the difficulty hitting HR at their park. LF Mark Baker (.293, 21 HR, 40 SB in 126 G) leads the way and is supported in the lineup by All-Stars 1B Julian Silva (.298, 33 2B), C Jason Castro (.272, 35 2B) and big trade deadline pickup, SS Manny Machado (.270, 29 2B). Another big pickup, this recent off-season, was CF Mariano Gonzalez from the Yankees (.284, 18 HR). Joining Baker and Gonzalez in the outfield is the solid Nick Williams (.294, 30 SB) while former top prospect Augusto Candelali (.251) mans the hot corner with Darwin Perez (.810 OPS in 137 PA) at second.
The big change in the rotation is the trade of 2018 Cy Young Winner Nathan Eovaldi to the Yankees. The Mariners do still have the makings of a great rotation with former 22-game-winner Felix Hernandez (14-12, 7.9 K/9) and Danny Hultzen (15-11, 3.24 ERA) leading the way. Dylan Bundy (15-6, 2.98 ERA) and Kyle Cody (10-12, 9.5 K/9) will likely be the next men up. The 5th spot is a bit of a battle, but will likely be another top prospect, Justin Hooper (16-10, 2.74 ERA across 3 levels). The much-maligned Mariner bullpen is still a work in progress, with the team yet to name a closer (or any other spots, or really a lineup for that matter). Key players in the pen will be Michael Brady (3.13 ERA), Zachary Herr (1.49 ERA), Lucas Sims (2.02 ERA), Matthew Smoral (3.04 ERA) and another top prospect, Kevin Comer (4.12 ERA in 13 GS)
The Mariners will surely be in the playoff mix again in 2019, but this could set up to be a bit of a bubble year for them. Some of their top prospects are hitting the big-leagues, but with some big-name departures like Eovaldi, Cecchini and Castro, they’ve got some substantial shoes to fill. Still, the bonus of a very good team are there.
I do think those departures result in another 2nd place finish, this time at 93-69, but that will be good enough for a 5th straight Wild Card game. This time though, on the road in Toronto, and without a Cy Young winner to start, they’ll have their season come to an end.