The Mariners are Finally Competing on Baseball’s Biggest Stage, and Succeeding

Bradford Ozuk // The Watchdog

The Mariners haven’t made the playoffs in a long time, not since 2001. Nobody has ever been able to accurately tweet about the Mariners making the playoffs. Superstar rookie Julio Rodriguez was eight months old the last time it happened. Ichiro was a rookie in the MLB. Albert Pujols, who just became the fourth person to hit 700 home runs in a career in September of this year, had 37 career homers at the time. Tom Brady wasn’t in the NFL yet. Michael Jordan was still playing basketball. Blockbuster was still a relevant franchise. The first Harry Potter movie was the top movie in theaters.

When Cal Raleigh came in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth on Sept. 30, he hit a walk-off home run that sent the Mariners to the playoffs. Many people at Bellevue College, for the first time in their lives, exist in a world where the Mariners are in the playoffs. With the season having officially ended on Oct. 5, postseason baseball is finally a reality for Seattle fans everywhere.

Raleigh heads up the likely Mariners’ playoff roster, but he is only one of three catchers who should see the field. He will of course be the primary starter, setting the record for the most home runs in a season by a Mariners catcher, 26. Curt Casali, acquired at the trade deadline, will fill in to give Raleigh a break when needed. Luis Torrens is also technically a catcher and also probably makes the cut, but he has seen play at first and second base this year, so he has some positional flexibility.

The rest of the infield is filled with names we should know well by now. Ty France is and will be the starting first baseman. J.P. Crawford is the starting shortstop. Eugenio Suarez is the starting third baseman. Carlos Santana will likely be the primary designated hitter, but he can fill in at first when needed. Adam Frazier should be the regularly starting second baseman. Dylan Moore and Abraham Toro will be filling in across the field as utility guys, giving people off-days or providing better matchups against specific pitcher handedness. Sam Haggerty will notably miss the postseason with a groin injury.

We all know and love the Mariners’ outfielders. Rodriguez, Mitch Haniger and Jesse Winker have been staples of this team all year. They will likely be joined by Jarred Kelenic and Taylor Trammell, though the latter is likely on the chopping block for another miscellaneous player that the Mariners might prefer.

The Seattle Mariners’ rotation is the heart of their success. Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray lock down the first two spots and are confirmed to be starting in the Wild Card Series in Toronto. George Kirby and Logan Gilbert will accompany them, both seeing great success this season. Marco Gonzales might not appear on the Wild Card roster, but he is the most likely candidate for a fifth arm to round the rotation out.

The Mariners’ bullpen, dubbed “Los Bomberos,” will likely stay the same from the regular season. Paul Sewald, Andres Munoz, Erik Swanson, Matt Brash, Diego Castillo and Penn Murfee are season-long regulars. Matthew Boyd, acquired at the deadline from Detroit, is the hometown kid playing for his childhood team, and his story of potential success in the playoffs is one of my most-anticipated storylines to watch.

The infield is the only place on the roster that leaves anything to be desired, but even they are a relatively strong group. This team can make waves in the playoffs, and though Houston would await them in the second round, it’s time for the city of Seattle to rally behind their Mariners in October.

As of publishing, the Mariners have officially not only made it to the playoffs, but have beaten the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series. Next up is a best-of-five series against the Houston Astros starting on Tuesday, Oct. 11