BROCK AND SALK

Dipoto Show: Insight on Mariners’ roster choices, matchup vs Jays

Oct 7, 2022, 10:31 AM | Updated: 10:46 am
Mariners Luis Torrens...
Luis Torrens of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his home run against the Tigers on Oct. 5, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners set the roster for their American League Wild Card matchup a few hours prior to Friday’s 1:07 p.m. opener against the Blue Jays, and while there weren’t really any surprises on it, not all 26 spots were sure things.

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“We made one late adjustment yesterday,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said Friday morning on Seattle Sports, “but… at least 25 of those 26 positions were relatively set when we when we got on the plane.”

That one adjustment was including Luis Torrens as a third catcher. It’s been not just an interesting week but an interesting season for Torrens, to say the least. Though he surprisingly struggled at the plate most of the year coming off a 15-homer campaign in 2021, he had a pinch-hit, walk-off RBI single in Seattle’s 13-inning marathon with the Yankees on Aug. 10. Shortly after, however, he was designated for assignment as the M’s got healthy and didn’t have a roster spot left for him. He cleared waivers and was able to bide his time in Triple-A, then returned to the M’s in late September.

That’s where being able to hang onto Torrens proved to be quite valuable for Seattle. Not only did he go 6 for 20 with two home runs, four walks and five RBIs in his last 10 games of the regular season, but he had a tying RBI single in the 10th inning of a win over the Rangers on Sept. 29 that dropped the M’s magic number to one, and in the final two days of the season earned the win on the mound as a relief pitcher, hit a homer and played well in his first MLB start ever at second base.

So what’s the plan with Torrens on the roster?

“We decided to add the third catcher to the roster, which would enable Scott to use Luis Torrens in a unique way,” Dipoto said, adding a little intrigue to Torrens’ inclusion. “LT’s swinging the bat really well right now. He’s been one of our better offensive players over the course of the last week or so and has really charged the offense.”

Torrens’ ability to hit southpaws should come in handy even though Toronto has limited options in that regard.

“Toronto doesn’t have a whole lot of left-handed pitching – they’re not very left-handed in general – but with Tim Mayza and Yusei Kikuchi pitching out of their bullpen, we thought it was good to have the third catcher and the utility of being able to use LT in different ways,” Dipoto said.

There was one more notable choice on the roster in rookie pitcher George Kirby, who is not scheduled to start any of the three potential games in Toronto. Dipoto said the M’s are keeping their options open with the hard-throwing, usually precise right-hander.

“I guess the wiggle room would be how we send George Kirby out, whether that is finding a way to get him in there in an impactful short burst in the next day or two, or (see) what it looks like over the weekend and if we are in a position to advance, can George start the second series in Houston?” Dipoto said.

If Kirby is used out of the bullpen, asked Mike Salk, then what would it look like?

“Pretty good,” Dipoto responded. “My guess is with George, you’re not going to get a whole lot different (out of the bullpen compared to starting a game). George, to me, is kind of a pitching metronome. His stuff is his stuff. He sits mid, upper 90s, he’s got the same pitch mix. I don’t think that coming out of the bullpen is going to change what it looks like in any meaningful way. And, you know, the thing we can always depend on George to do is come in and locate, throws strikes and generally keep the ball in the ballpark. I do think that the one element that might be a little different is that George pitching for strikeouts is probably going to result in George getting more strikeouts. I think he has that kind of stuff.”

How the Mariners and Blue Jays match up

Dipoto sees parallels in how the M’s and Blue Jays win games, even if they don’t employ obviously similar strategies.

“We both control the zone, just in a very different way,” he said. “We do it through the grind, the drive – we take our walks, we don’t chase out of the zone. The Blue Jays are a little more free swinging but they don’t strike out, they put the ball in play, so in that way they do manage the strike zone. And both (pitching) staffs, I mean, you are gonna see some stuff come out of this series – from the starting pitchers and even when the bullpens get in there. It’s big stuff on both sides.”

There’s also the joy with which they play the game.

“The commonality is the personality. I think these are two pretty colorful teams that you’re gonna get a chance to see, and big personalities, and I think that makes it fun to watch. October baseball with teams that have this kind of, I guess, jump off the screen-type attraction and personalities – you know, Geno (Eugenio Suárez) and Julio (Rodríguez) and so many of the guys that we have on our club that have really changed the style with which we play and the energy that we bring every day. And the Blue Jays have the same with guys like (Bo) Bichette and Vlad (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.). They bring it, as well, so it’s gonna be fun to watch.”

“Pretty relaxed” group for Seattle

The Mariners held an optional workout Thursday at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, and Dipoto said the team didn’t look overwhelmed by the moment.

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“A pretty relaxed group,” Dipoto said of what he saw from Seattle’s players Thursday. “It was low-dialed, an easy day. It wasn’t a media crush like can sometimes be the case in the postseason, and maybe in that way we’re fortunate that our first day we had the early workout and the the Blue Jays media was was not quite out in full force just yet. And, you know, like I said, the guys looked quiet and focused. Everybody went through their routines like they typically do, and I feel really good about where we are.”

This was a special edition of The Jerry Dipoto Show, which usually airs at 8:30 a.m. Thursdays during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. You can listen to Friday’s episode at this link or in the player below.

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