Mariners’ Dipoto discusses Julio’s hot streak, Raleigh thriving

Aug 18, 2023, 2:39 PM

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after hitting a 3-run home run on Aug. 17, 2023. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners have really clicked of late, and they enter Friday’s series with the Houston Astros a half game behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League wild card race.

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The pitching has been there all year long, but the offense is doing some good things, led by a number of the team’s biggest bats.

“This is the team that we thought we had from the beginning. And they are, they’re on it right now,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said during his weekly Seattle Sports show.

Julio Rodríguez has been the hottest hitter on the team, especially in the series against Kansas City when he had four- and five-hit games over the series’ final two contests. Ty France has also been hot of late.

“Julio hasn’t been better than this all year. And he’s really been quite good since the start of July,” Dipoto said. “And Ty roughly since the trade deadline, he’s been going as good as you can go … I think so many guys have taken so many good at-bats.”

“So it’s as fun as we’ve been offensively in a long time. And we’ve talked about this in recent weeks — this isn’t a new thing. This is something that’s been going on for a couple of months now. But we got so conditioned to the struggles in the early part of the season that if we struggle for a day we feel like ‘Oh, we’re back in the vortex.’ But the truth is we’ve been a pretty interesting offensive team for a little bit now,” Dipoto later added.

So what’s been gotten into Rodríguez, specifically?

“He’s an exciting player. And we’ve talked about this before, from the baserunning and defense, which is the foundation of it all, that has been there from Day 1 and never went away,” Dipoto said. “Scott (Servais) actually said to him (Wednesday) night after the game, the ground ball that he hit through the right side, which I believe was his fourth hit of the night that picked up that run, Scott said, ‘That’s my favorite at-bat you’ve had all year.’ Just doing that little thing, it makes such a huge difference.”

When Rodríguez is leading the charge for the Mariners, “it does make a huge difference,” Dipoto said.

“And add that to the fact that at some point here, hopefully by the time we get through Houston or to Chicago, we have J.P. (Crawford) back and we’re back at full strength with guys in good streaks and Julio doing really all the things that his tools allow him to do and impacting the game in that way, it makes those last six weeks of the season looks like a lot of fun,” Dipoto said.

Could Cal Raleigh be a 30-homer guy?

Someone else who’s been swinging the bat well is catcher Cal Raleigh.

Raleigh has homered 11 times in 29 games played since the All-Star Break, including six in August. He now has 22 home runs on the year, and he’s closing in on his career-high of 27 he had last year.

Could Raleigh pass that mark and hit 30?

“We might see it this year. Cal, he has a way of doing the thing that you need him to do,” Dipoto said. “The big homer, the big moment seems to find Cal.”

Raleigh is a guy who does just about everything the Mariners need.

“He’s excellent behind the plate and he manages the run game. There’s so many pluses with Cal,” Dipoto said. “I don’t think he’s ever going to be a guy that hits .280 to .300. That’s just not his skill set. But he takes his walks and hits his homers and he finds big times to come up with big hits. And at the end of the day, if you’ve got to catcher that has the ability to drop 30 homers on you and be an above-average OPS guy … that’s a real advantage when you couple it with real defense. And he’s still so young. There’s so much better that he can get.”

Listen to this week’s Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player near the top of this story. 

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