MLB Network’s Morosi: Why Mariners’ surge is now, trade needs

Jul 9, 2022, 1:28 PM
Mariners Eugenio Suárez...
Eugenio Suárez and the Mariners celebrate his walkoff home run against the Blue Jays on Friday night. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The state of the Seattle Mariners is currently better than at any point this season since three weeks into their schedule.

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Having won 14 of their last 18 games, including six straight, the Mariners are back over .500 for the first time since May 2, sitting at 43-42 following an epic walkoff win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night. That also has the M’s just two games within the third and final wild card spot in the American League that currently belongs to Toronto (45-40), meaning Seattle could move into a tie with the Blue Jays if they can pull off a four-game sweep with two more wins this weekend.

That brings up a couple of important questions that MLB Network’s Jon Morosi actually addressed during his weekly Thursday afternoon visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob. Here’s a look at those questions and what Morosi had to say.

Why are the Mariners surging now?

The first 2 1/2 months of the season were a struggle for the M’s, which came as a letdown considering they entered 2022 with postseason hopes. Clearly something clicked, and somewhat suddenly, as they own a winning record not even three weeks after they bottomed out at 10 games under .500 (29-39 on June 19).

Morosi had an astute observation about that.

“It’s just taken some time, and I think when you take a step back, you got a lot of players who were either young on this team or didn’t have a ton of time with this organization, and now they do,” he said.

To Morosi’s point, the Mariners are getting big contributions from a number of rookies or second-year players – chiefly Julio Rodríguez, Cal Raleigh, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby. They also made some splashes in the offseason, signing reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray and trading for All-Stars Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suárez and Adam Frazier, and they didn’t all find their footing right away with the M’s.

While Frazier is still off his pace from last season, Ray has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over a incredible stretch of his last five starts (just three earned runs allowed in 33 2/3 innings), while Winker started to pick things up before serving a six-game suspension and Suárez has had multiple stretches of hot hitting while playing better than expected defense at third this year.

“I think that you’re seeing a bit more fluidity with how they play together, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch,” Morosi said.

What should Seattle do at the trade deadline?

There’s little question now that the Mariners should be buyers before the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline, but it’s going to be an interesting deadline this year. That’s because both the AL and NL have an extra wild card spot than in previous years, meaning more teams will probably be looking to bolster their postseason chances and less will be apt to serve as sellers.

As for Seattle, they just got likely All-Star first baseman Ty France back from the injured list and are hopeful that star outfielders Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis will also return from the IL by the end of July.

Morosi said that puts the M’s at an advantage.

“They’re in a really good position because the deadline, of course, arrives Aug. 2, and by then they should know what they’ve got with the three guys coming off the injured list,” he said. “… I think that’s going to be a really important bit of assessing for the next couple of weeks to see how they’re doing… The point is, they’ve got a couple of weeks to think about this.”

Where could the M’s make an addition? Even though their starting pitching has been absolutely stellar in 2022, they’ve been lucky with injuries. None of Seattle’s top four starters have missed an outing, and the same can be said for Kirby since he joined the rotation on May 8.

Seattle can’t count on that continuing, though, and Morosi brought up a familiar name not as someone the M’s could add but as an example of the kind of addition they should make.

“You could always get more pitching, and they’ve leaned so much on this starting five that I think getting a swing guy, somebody that can give them a little bit of length (is important),” he said. “To borrow a name from the Mariners four years ago, find this year’s Wade LeBlanc who can start a game for you, relieve a game for you. That kind of a guy I think would be helpful for this team, because frankly at the rate of injuries that we see in Major League Baseball now, to expect these five guys to stay healthy all season long is probably not realistic. And so I think you want to build in and layer a little bit more of an option.

“… I think you need to get one more guy that can start for you, and I would think and hope that that’s probably (general manager) Jerry Dipoto’s focus. Because if you bring back France, Haniger and then a full group there in Lewis, I mean, that’s better than you’re gonna be able to do probably on the trade market if they’re all hitting when they come back and play.”

You can listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Morosi at this link or in the player below.

Jerry Dipoto Show: Will Mariners eventually replace George Kirby in rotation?

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