Mariners’ Cal Raleigh: ‘Pretty disgusting the kind of stuff’ pitching staff has

Jan 29, 2023, 12:18 PM

Mariners Cal Raleigh...

Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh during a game against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 9, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners rode a stellar pitching staff into their first postseason appearance in 20 years last season, and nobody had a better view of their pitchers than Cal Raleigh.

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In 2022, Raleigh blossomed into Seattle’s starting catcher, breaking out both behind and at the plate. He also cemented his named in Seattle sports history with an iconic tie-breaking blast against the Oakland Athletics that was the first pinch-hit, walk-off home run in MLB history to clinch a playoff berth.

For Raleigh to be in that position, though, it took a typically stingy pitching performance from the Mariners. On that particular night, starter Logan Gilbert threw eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball, and Matt Brash added a perfect ninth inning out of the bullpen.

Those are just two of a host of arms that shined for Seattle in 2022 and will be back as the M’s look to build off last year’s historic season, however.

On the most recent edition of Seattle Sports’ Mariners Hot Stove, Raleigh talked to Gary Hill Jr. about his view of the staff from behind the dish.

“I mean, it’s pretty disgusting, the kind of stuff we have,” Raleigh said, “whether it’s the rotation or the bullpen. It was a special group and, you know, we’re gonna have some guys coming back and some new faces as well. I’m really excited to get back into it and to catch these guys with a healthy thumb.”

An injured thumb on Raleigh’s catching hand was a big storyline down the stretch for the Mariners, although Raleigh was pretty good at covering up just how much it was bothering him. He hit four of his 27 home runs in his last eight games of the regular season, and he added another in his first postseason plate appearance that helped Seattle jump out to an early lead in their 4-0 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto in Game 1 of their American League Wild Card Series.

“Honestly, it wasn’t easy,” Raleigh said of playing with the injury. “But, you know, I think kind of what pushed me through was just knowing my teammates and all the staff and the fans and everybody in the organization, they were counting on us. I just wanted to do my part and just try to help the team out anyway I could, especially down that stretch when we were so close to getting in (the playoffs).”

As for what he learned from catching the Mariners’ pitchers all season long, Raleigh was cagey when asked which of his teammates has the nastiest pitch. He did offer up, though, why Seattle’s staff – which features starters Gilbert, Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen, plus a bullpen headlined by Brash, Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald –has been so successful.

“It’s a tough question to answer because they’re all special in their own ways. We’ve got a lot of a lot of different looks,” Raleigh said. “I think that’s something that we do a good job of – we have different guys that do different things really well, and I think that’s what kind of makes our guys unique.”

With the 2023 season fast approaching, Raleigh can’t wait to get back into his catcher’s gear now that he’s had surgery to repair both his broken thumb and torn ligaments in his left hand.

“I’m just excited to build off of what we did this past year,” he said. “As great as it was at the time and everything like that, I think we all know what challenge lies ahead, and now we kind of have a target on our backs and people kind of know about us. So we’re gonna come out and come ready to play every every single day and, like I said, try to get back to the playoffs because it’s never easy. And once we get there, we know what we have to do now.”

The Mariners Hot Stove airs from 7-9 p.m. each Tuesday night on Seattle Sports 710 AM leading up to spring training, when it will be replaced by the weekly Cactus League Report. You can listen to the full conversation with Raleigh in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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