Morosi: Blue Jays, other contenders should be ‘nervous’ about Mariners

Aug 11, 2023, 8:43 AM

Seattle Mariners...

Seattle Mariners players celebrate a win on Aug. 6, 2023. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

After a very mediocre start to the 2023 season, the Seattle Mariners have really turned things around over the last month.

The Mariners entered July four games under .500, but entering Friday they are 10 games over .500 and now trail the Toronto Blue Jays by 1.5 games for the third and final American League wild card spot.

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“Remarkable, guys,” MLB Network insider Jon Morosi said of the Mariners to Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Thursday. “Energy, passion, I love the athleticism. And the numbers, the big picture here, remarkable.”

The Mariners have played well since the start of July, but they’ve been especially hot in August, going 7-1 and winning seven in a row. That also coincides with the Aug. 1 trade deadline, when the Mariners traded veteran reliever Paul Sewald to Arizona in the team’s only notable deadline deal.

“The day of the Sewald trade, there’s a lot of conversation about ‘Well are the Mariners selling? And are they definitely not going to make the playoffs?’ Well, since then, they are 7-1,” Morosi said. “… But more importantly, they’ve already gained in that amount of time two games on the Blue Jays as of today, entering (Thursday).”

The Mariners are technically 1.5 back of the Blue Jays for the third American League wild card spot, but Morosi said it’s “even closer than that” for a couple of reasons.

“No. 1, they’re now tied in the loss column. And the Mariners have three games in hand,” Morosi said, pointing out the Blue Jays have three more games than the Mariners so far. “So when you’re tied in the loss column, you are for all practical purposes tied.”

Additionally, despite the two teams splitting the season series against each other at 3-3, the M’s have a notable upperhand that could come into play at the end of the year, Morosi said.

“The Mariners have the tiebreaker against Toronto because they’ve got the better intra-division record,” he said. “Of course, the season series is tied at 3-3, so as a result of that you go to the second tiebreaker, which is intra-division record. And the Mariners have played the AL West much better than the Jays have played the AL East. So if these two teams end in a tie, the Mariners go to the dance and the Jays are home.

“So what I’m here to say right now is the standings are correct as (listed), but my look at it is that we are effectively tied. There is a tied spot for that final wild card position, and Seattle right now, as you guys know, has all the momentum.”

A big reason the Mariners are contending right now is their pitching.

The M’s rank second in MLB in ERA and in quality starts.

“Top to bottom, I can’t think of a better pitching staff in the game right now than what the Seattle Mariners have,” Morosi said.

The Mariners’ bullpen, even with the loss of Sewald, is still very good, Morosi said. But the starting rotation is what makes it all work.

What makes the rotation especially impressive is the Mariners lost Robbie Ray on the second day of the season, have been without Marco Gonzales since May and now have placed rookie Bryan Woo on the injured list, leading to fellow rookie Emerson Hancock to take his place. And another rookie has been in the rotation since early-May in Bryce Miller.

“The rotation depth, you’ve got Bryan Woo who goes out and then Emerson Hancock comes in and (allows) one earned run in five innings. What a debut that was for him,” Morosi said.

That kind of pitching, Morosi said, bodes well for the Mariners and poorly for the Blue Jays and other playoff contenders.

“That’s why with all the schedule left, if I’m Toronto, I’m nervous. Because Seattle is going to have a chance to keep winning series,” he said. “That has, I think, been their mantra for the last couple of weeks – ‘we’ve just got to win series.’ And certainly they’ve been sweeping series of late, but they just have to keep winning series. And when you have consistent rotation work like they’ve been getting, you’re gonna have many more chances to win series than not.”

The Mariners are pitching well, playing good defense and getting timely hits. Morosi thinks that’s a recipe for success.

“As long as the hits are coming at the right times and you’re banking runs when you need to, guys, I’m telling you that there are a lot of teams that would not want to face the Mariners in a playoff series,” he said. “This is a dangerous team that reminds me in some ways of if you go back to the World Series champion Giants back in 2010. That was how they won games. It was rotation, a couple relievers and some situational heading from a handful of guys that really were getting hot at the right time. And I’m seeing a very similar recipe right now for the Seattle Mariners.”

Listen to Morosi’s full discussion with Wyman and Bob at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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Morosi: Blue Jays, other contenders should be ‘nervous’ about Mariners