3 Takes: Mariners’ biggest question for the second half of the season

Jul 13, 2021, 11:05 AM | Updated: 11:39 am
Mariners J.P. Crawford Ty France...
The Mariners hit the All-Star break with a surprising 48-43 record. (Getty)

Mariners fans have to be feeling good about their team at the All-Star break.

Mariners MLB Draft Tracker: A look at all 20 Seattle picks

Seattle has won seven of its last eight series of three games or more, going 16-8 over that stretch to hit the break at five games over .500 and within striking distance of the playoff race. And that’s all despite a lot of things not going the Mariners’ way through their first 91 games, whether it’s with injuries or some key players falling short of expectations.

Now as the M’s get ready for the second half of the season, which starts with a three-game set Friday in Anaheim against the Angels, what is the biggest question facing the team? Monday on 710 ESPN Seattle, the crew from Jake and Stacy shared their choices. Let’s take a look at what hosts Stacy Rost and Jake Heaps and producer Curtis Rogers all had to say.

Stacy Rost: Will GM Jerry Dipoto get to make significant moves without a contract past this season?

With the Mariners sitting at 48-43 at the All-Star break, they are potentially just one more winning streak away from climbing into a playoff spot. They could use some reinforcements to help their cause, of course, especially in a starting rotation that has both Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield on the injured list, and All-Star Yusei Kikuchi in a precarious position as he’s coming off a rough outing against the Yankees, just had a brief stint on the COVID-19 IL (he’s vaccinated and tested negative twice but did feel potential symptoms) and took himself off the American League’s active roster for the All-Star Game.

So how does that factor into what Rost is thinking about going into the second half?

“My first concern for the Mariners is that the Mariners won’t let Jerry Dipoto make significant moves at the trade deadline without an extension,” Rost said. “This is kind of your shot – you’ve got two weeks to make these kinds of calls to acquire that kind of talent before the trade deadline on the 30th. I don’t know when this extension is coming but I would hope that they get that figured out, or that they allow him to make whatever moves he feels are necessary even without an extension. I’m not hearing anything that says they won’t; it’s just a fear that I have.”

Listen to Rost’s full thoughts and the ensuing conversation in the final segment of the podcast at this link.

Further reading: Will Dipoto be with M’s past 2021? Talks ‘always ongoing’

Jake Heaps: Sustainability after a surprising first half

The Mariners have somehow thrived through the first 3 1/2 months of the season despite adversity at nearly every turn, and it’s hard to expect the M’s to be able to keep that up for another 2 1/2 months.

“Can they sustain what they’ve been able to do over the past month?” asked Heaps. “The reason why that’s a question for me – although I love what they are building and what they are doing, and I love how scrappy this team is, I love the fight that they have and the belief they have in each other – is they have overcome their circumstances in just about every single way. Injuries, poor run differential, poor performances from two key pitchers in Marco Gonzales and Justus Sheffield, and one of the toughest schedules in Major League Baseball. So my question is, do you think they can keep it going after the All-Star break to give them a legitimate chance at a wild card spot? Because there are so many things that they have had to overcome along the way just to get to this point.”

Listen to Heaps’ full thoughts and the ensuing conversation in the final segment of the podcast at this link.

Further reading: M’s growing confidence through close wins, so what’s the key?

Curtis Rogers: Will the M’s add through trades and not just by calling up prospects?

The Mariners are seeing an influx of young talent coming up from the farm system, and how they develop will ultimately decide how their rebuild turns out. That leaves a question mark about the rest of this season and especially the trade deadline, however.

“I want to know, will they add outside of just calling guys up?” asked Rogers. “They called up Cal Raleigh on Sunday, there’s a real good shot Jarred Kelenic is up immediately following the All-Star break, we’ve seen Logan Gilbert get called up, but is that going to be enough? Those guys are not proven like veteran players in this league (the Mariners could trade for). … Are these guys you want to bank on in a pennant race? There’s plenty of upside to these guys, for sure. But is it proven upside? No, it is not.”

Listen to Rogers’ full thoughts and the ensuing conversation in the final segment of the podcast at this link.

Further reading: Latest from Dipoto on when Kelenic could return from Triple-A

More Mariners coverage from 710Sports.com

Mariners draft athletic Georgia HS C/OF Harry Ford in first round
Mariners MLB Draft Tracker: Every Seattle selection
Where did M’s lockdown bullpen come from? Paul Sewald sheds light
Salk: Four trade targets M’s could pursue to improve playoff hopes
Why was Julio Rodríguez ready for Double-A? Inside look at M’s process

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3 Takes: Mariners’ biggest question for the second half of the season