Jake & Stacy’s Mariners wishlists for the 2022 spring and summer

Feb 25, 2022, 1:13 AM
Mariners Kyle Lewis Jarred Kelenic...
Jarred Kelenic and Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners share in a moment before a game on May 14, 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Getting 162 games this season would be at the very top of any Mariners wishlist, what with CBA talks ongoing and no end in sight for the labor dispute between league owners and the players’ union.

Jake & Stacy: The 4 young Mariners on the hot seat entering 2022

With no answer there yet – though all eyes on Monday’s Feb. 28 deadline – Seattle fans can at least try to piece together their own optimistic outlook for the Mariners’ season. And why not? The M’s are entering the year with real playoff hopes and plenty of young, exciting talent.

In that vein of optimism and hope comes spring and summer Mariners wishlists from 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy.

Mariners spring wishlist

Stacy: A quicker start for Marco Gonzales.

Gonzales had a shaky start to last season, allowing 27 hits, 11 walks and 17 home runs over 28 1/3 innings pitched in April. His two worst outings of the month came early; he allowed five runs, walked three and struck out two over six innings against the Giants on April 1 (opening day), then followed it up a week later allowing seven runs through just 4 1/3 innings in a loss at Minnesota. Important to note here that there was an injury at play – on April 29, Seattle placed Gonzales on the 10-day injury list with a left forearm strain.

Gonzales made his return in June and his numbers righted through the summer, including a particularly hot August that saw Gonzales pitch a season-high 40 innings. He allowed just seven runs – half his total from July, a month in which he threw just 19 2/3 innings – walked only six and finished with 0.80 WHIP.

Gonzales will once again be a central part of the rotation in 2022, though this time will have much more help with the addition of 2021 AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. And in a season where the Mariners (and their fans) are entering with real playoff hopes, flashes of last year’s late-summer version of Gonzales showing up in April and May could make all the difference.

Jake: Kyle Lewis isn’t just healthy, he’s a part of the lineup.

That doesn’t have to mean he’s in center field. It just means he’s healthy enough to contribute after knee issues both made his 2021 season start late and end very early.

On Tuesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy, Jake Heaps pointed to the example of Mitch Haniger, who played 157 games in his return in 2021 after not having played since midseason 2019 due to his own injuries.

“I know there’s doubt surrounding (Lewis) with his health,” Heaps said. “But after watching the Mariners manage Mitch Haniger’s year to the point that he not only had an incredible season, credit to Haniger, he was able to stay healthy, both player and organization (last year) worked well together to be on the same page and put the priority on (Haniger’s) health so he could be himself all season long. I view Kyle Lewis in the same way. There might be some nights where he’ll play center field, but they’ll also move him to corner outfield or move him to stick at DH… He’s got an impact bat, and if he can be healthy and a part of the lineup, I think you’ll see positive contributions from him this season. And I’d like to see that start this spring.”

Summer wishlist

Stacy: Julio Rodríguez makes them notice… from outside of Seattle.

Granted, there are plenty of people outside of Seattle who know full well who Rodríguez is. The 21 year old is the No. 1 prospect in the Mariners’ No. 1-ranked farm system and the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball. Baseball America writer Kyle Glaser and Editor-in-Chief JJ Cooper had glowing praise during an interview with us earlier this winter.

Cooper: Mariners’ Rodríguez has multiple paths to stardom at the plate

“Now I’m not saying that means it’s guaranteed that Julio Rodríguez is going to be Juan Soto or Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but that’s the kind of production that he has shown already in the minors,” Cooper said.  “… He has the power to be like a monster home run hitter, and he has the hitting ability to be a guy who hits for high average. And one of the toughest things is the rarest of players, to me, are the guys who can do both of those things. And there’s a chance that Julio Rodriguez can do both of those things.”

Glaser, meanwhile, thinks Rodríguez can be one of the faces of MLB.

“He is someone that 5-10 years down the road, when you think about the billboard of the faces of Major League Baseball and Ronald Acuña and Fernando Tatís Jr., he could be right there on the billboard with them,” Glaser said. “There’s a level of physical ability here that you just do not see every day.”

Rodríguez is expected to make his major league debut later this spring or early summer – depending on the timeline of CBA negotiations – and it’ll be the first time most Mariners fans get a chance to watch him. There’s plenty ahead for Rodríguez, but in an ideal world for a Mariners’ summer wishlist, you’ll be hearing national pundits talking about Seattle’s young phenom in September and, hopefully, October.

Jake: The entire young core takes over.

Heaps is ready for the Mariners’ youth movement that started to emerge in 2021 to be even more present this summer.

“That core is the young group of guys they’ve built this team around. J.P. Crawford is a part of that; I want to continue to see him stabilize or even better his performance at the plate. I want Ty France to continue to keep being the incredible bat he is, the consistent bat, and I’ve love to see him show more pop in his bat throughout the entire year. Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, and the other name we don’t talk about a lot, which is Cal Raleigh. (You’d like to see) that he’s taking that step forward as a catcher but also at the plate, since he was just all over the place last year. To have a switch-hitting catcher who’s developing and who can hold his own at the plate? Man, that would be such a huge boost to this team.”

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Jake & Stacy’s Mariners wishlists for the 2022 spring and summer