Not just ‘fun differential’ — Mariners have run differential now, too

Sep 7, 2022, 11:13 AM

Mariners Cal Raleigh...

Cal Raleigh hits a two-run home run in the Mariners' win over the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 6. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Mariners’ overall record doesn’t look all that different from last year.

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Entering their 137th game of the season Wednesday, the M’s own a 77-59 record. A year ago entering their 137th game, the Mariners were 74-62, and when the season ended they sat at 90-72 – 18 games over .500, just like right now.

There is a big difference in the way the Mariners have gotten to where they are this season compared to 2021, however. Last year’s team ended the year with a minus-51 run differential, meaning they scored 51 runs less than they allowed to their opponents. In 2022, Seattle has a plus-68 run differential.

That’s not to say that “fun differential” – a term that was coined for the 2021 Mariners – has gone away. But the M’s have figured out a way to win games by more than the skin of their teeth.

“I think that last year they leaned on their pitching an awful lot, especially their bullpen. And when they were winning games, they were winning by a run, and when they were losing games, they were losing by five runs,” said Mike Blowers, a former Mariners infielder and current ROOT Sports color commentator, in his weekly visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday. “And over the course of the summer, I think it’s an outlier to get in a position where you’re going to win 90 games doing that.”

So what has allowed the Mariners to get on the positive side of run differential and make a push for the playoffs?

“I think this year the rotation has been better with Robbie Ray and what George Kirby has done in addition to the other three guys, and then the bullpen has picked up,” Blowers said. “It’s one of those things you never know from year to year, but the bullpen has been outstanding holding teams down. And then now over the last three to four weeks, they are scoring a lot more runs – especially the last two weeks, they’re averaging five runs a game. And when your rotation has an ERA of 2 over that span and the bullpen is giving up nothing, that’s going to make a big difference in your run differential.”

The impressive development of young hitters like Julio Rodríguez and Cal Raleigh plays a big role, as well.

“I think at the end of the day the lineup is better, especially with the additions of Julio and Cal Raleigh,” Blowers said. “(Poeple) didn’t know what to expect and they’re both having fantastic seasons, which made a difference with the rest of the veterans in the lineup.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Blowers in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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