Colby Covington: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
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The Seattle Mariners are back in the World Series conversation for the first time since Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey Jr. were teammates. Last season was the M’s second straight that finished 90-72, and the first time Seattle had back-to-back winning years since 2002-03.
Seattle ended the longest playoff drought in North American sports and swept the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card Round. Their swift exit from the ALDS in three games by the Houston Astros was a wake-up call, but the Mariners are a dangerous team and a legit dark horse to win the pennant.
After their 90-win season, the Mariners took a pass on most of the free-agent market. The most significant additions include outfielders Teoscar Hernandez and AJ Pollock and infielders Kolten Wong and Tommy La Stella. RHP Trevor Gott was the only addition to the pitching staff to be considered a guaranteed upgrade. The Mariners extended utility player Dylan Moore to keep contributing at multiple positions.
Hernandez will fill in for the loss of Jesse Winker at the plate, while Wong’s defense will help lock down the middle of the infield.
While technically a part of the team since last season, Luis Castillo signed a five-year, $108 million MLB contract, including a sixth-year team option. With a full season of Castillo, the Mariners’ rotation is going from good to great.
The Mariners lost more than they gained in numbers, but Seattle sees this as addition by subtraction. Winker, Abraham Toro, Kyle Lewis, ErickSwanson, Adam Frazier, Carlos Santana, and Curt Casali are out the door.
Swanson may be the most significant loss of the group after posting a 1.68 ERA in relief.
No manager’s job is ironclad, but Scott Servias’ seat is as cold as they get heading into the 2023 season. He’s been the manager of the Mariners since 2016 and just posted the franchise’s first back-to-back winning seasons in two decades and led them to the playoffs in 2022.
With a 180-144 record in the last two years, Servias’ job is safe.
The Mariners’ stable of pitchers was the difference-maker last season and why they won 90 games. The group combined to finish 7th in ERA (3.59), WHIP (1.18), and K/BB rate (3.16). Defense is paramount in Seattle, with just 0.41 errors per game last season and the 2nd best rate of throwing out would-be base stealers.
The offense, on the whole, isn’t all that impressive, but there are some scary bats nonetheless. Julio Rodriguez is at the top of that list after winning the AL Rookie of the Year in 2022. The No. 3 overall prospect lived up to the hype and, if healthy, could make a run at the MVP sooner than later.
Aside from a few studs, the Mariners had a pedestrian offense in 2022. Seattle ranked near the bottom of the league in batting average (.230), hits per game (7.68), and BABIP (.273). The home run power is there, but the Mariners need more runners on base to capitalize on the long ball. The M’s are also not a speedy squad, limiting their steal potential and leaving them with the 20th-ranked extra-base hit percentage (7.3) in 2022.
Expectations are higher than they have been in decades for the Mariners. The potential exists for the M’s to jump from ALDS losers to contenders for the AL pennant. The projection for 87½ won’t be easy to hit, but the Mariners have the talent to flirt with 100 wins if everything goes to plan. One flipside, a sub-85 win season isn’t out of the question either, with stiff competition in the AL. Considering Seattle’s additions in the offseason, 87½ wins is a good guess for where this team will end up.
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