So far, a Seattle Mariners team that entered the 2022 MLB season with raised expectations has been an overall disappointment. After losing to the Blue Jays on May 16, the Mariners stood at 16-20, seven games out of first place in the American League West. But a recent weekend series win should stir some optimism for the not-too-distant future.
Much of the Seattle fan base was excited about the team entering the new campaign after the Mariners won 90 games last year. There is some promising talent on the team, and it added 2021 Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray to anchor the staff. But we have to keep in mind that the Mariners are a very young team, and inconsistency will continue to be an issue.
The Mariners Scored A Big Series Win In Mid-May
The Youth Gone Wild
Seattle has the second-youngest group of hitters in the major leagues in terms of average age, and the pitching staff is seventh youngest. The ups and downs have been clearly illustrated by the stark contrast between two of their youngest and most compelling players.
Logan Gilbert has been everything the Mariners and their fans could have hoped for. He was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for April. But Jarred Kelenic, the top prospect who was supposed to bounce back after a very difficult rookie season, struggled even more than he did in 2021. Kelenic was sent down to the minors on May 13 after hitting .140 with three home runs.
But in a weekend set at New York from May 13 to 15, the Mariners reminded observers that they have a promising ballclub. At times this season, the Mariners will rise up and show significant glimpses of hope. The Mets have been the best team in the National League this year. In their first-ever trip to Citi Field, the Mariners took two of three games in New York. It was the first series loss for the Mets in 2022.
Julio Rodriguez delivered the best game of his young career in the series finale. He went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and a walk. His four hits and five times reaching base were both career highs in his 34th MLB game played. He became the fourth Mariners player to reach base five times in a game at under 21 years old. Two of the others were Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez hit .333 with a .393 OBP in his last 22 games through the end of the Mets series. During that span, he had two homers, four doubles, 11 RBIs, ten runs scored, seven walks, and six stolen bases. Rodriguez has started to get into a groove, and watching him play can also ease the pain of the Kelenic scuffling that the fans have endured so far.
Ty France has undoubtedly delivered on expectations. Entering play on May 17, his 46 hits were tied for the most in the American League. His 13 multi-hit games were tied for the most in MLB. France doubled in the series finale against the Mets, as all nine Mariners hitters recorded a base hit for the first time this season.
Looking Ahead After The Mariners’ Satisfying Weekend In New York
Jesse Winker was a highlighted performer in the series in New York, as he continued to tease the New York fans as he did during his Reds tenure. By the time the three games had wrapped up, Winker had hit safely in seven consecutive games and 10 of 11. Winker had four hits, including a homer and three RBIs in the last two games against the Mets.
The Mariners have been without a firm closer this year, but Diego Castillo shut the door in dramatic fashion in the final game of the series. With Mets superstar slugger Pete Alonso at the plate with the bases loaded, Castillo came through with a clutch strikeout to seal the series victory. Castillo had preserved Seattle’s thin lead by striking out Alonso and Starling Marte, and he finished off the Mets on nine pitches, all of which were sliders, according to Baseball Savant.
J.P. Crawford has rather quietly been having a good season, as he has a .406 OBP with a .332 batting average and 39 total hits. Veteran Adam Frazier has been a model leader on the field and in the clubhouse. Through the end of the Mets series, he had reached base safely in 22 of 27 games.
Ray has a 4-3 record with a 4.32 ERA, but if he can start shaking off the inconsistency, he can play a significant part in any surge the team can muster going forward. Ray is a thinker who is always analyzing his own game to improve. He has become a mentor to Gilbert, who credits Ray with teaching him a lot since he arrived in Seattle. Marco Gonzales has just been unlucky, as he has lost four of five decisions despite fashioning a 3.38 ERA and not allowing more than two runs in a game just once.
The Mariners may continue to take their fans on an uneasy ride for the rest of the season. That is what young teams will do. But when frustration sets in, their followers should look back on the Mets series and stay patient. There will also be some impressive series wins ahead at times. The Mariners have a bright future and appear to be on the right road, even if they will hit bumps along the way.