As Mariners have surged into contention, Trader Jerry needs to deliver knockout punch to playoff drought

July 17—Trader Jerry’s phone calls to his baseball counterparts are probably different in tone and essence than they were a few weeks ago.

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry DiPotto saw his team flounder in the first two months of the season, but the M’s have been the hottest team in baseball in the period prior to June and are back in contention in the American League’s wild-card race. . ,

As of Saturday, the Mariners have won 13 in a row and won 21 of their last 24 matches. That surge has propelled more than seven of M’s teams into the wild-card slot in the AL standings and as the projected No. 5 seed.

The Mariners have been playing with a team that has led opponents 115-64 since June 19. Seattle’s pitching staff posted a 2.34 earned run average in July, and the offense averaged 4.6 this month despite suspensions and injuries. Keeping many of the team’s stars out of the lineup.

It has been a surprising reversal of fortunes for a team that was 10 games under .500 on June 19, with a 29-39 record and eight games out of wild-card hunting. The Mariners had lost four of five at home to the Los Angeles Angels and ended an 11-game homestand with three wins. The game recaps read like postmortem reports, and the beat writers were indicating the inevitable continuation of the game’s longest playoff drought.

The Mariners will be out of the All-Star break, with 69 games remaining on the schedule and the trade deadline ending August 2. The analytics-minded folks at FanGraph put Seattle’s chances of making the playoffs at 55.5%. Houston has built up a near-insurmountable lead in the AL West, meaning the Mariners’ only way to the postseason will be through a wild card. Toronto, Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore and Chicago are within 3 1/2 games of the M in the AL standings, a razor-thin margin.

Barring any setbacks, Mitch Hanniger and Kyle Lewis will return to the field during the second half of the season. If both players return to form, it’s going to be some significant strikes in the lineup. But other shortcomings are unlikely to be corrected with in-house solutions, which drags the conversation back to the depot.

The Mariners obviously must be buyers before the trade deadline, but the number of teams still in contention only serves to increase the cost of acquiring players. Depoto has been hesitant to land the organization’s most highly regarded prospects in recent deals. Fortunately, two areas of concern – finding an inning-eater for second base and rotation – are unlikely to cost M’s premium probability.

Second baseman Adam Frazier’s disappointing Ops of .604 lies in a .236 batting average, which includes .143 points against off-speed pitches. Backup Abraham Toro is batting .177 (just .079) against breaking balls and has no figures to drop Frazier from the lineup.

Cincinnati’s Brandon Drury signed a minor league deal in the off-season and rewarded the Reds with 18 homers, the most hits in a season. His performance is enough to justify concerns about his production going forward, however, given his past production.

Miami’s Joey Wendell delivers a bit more pop than Frazier and can bounce around in the field of defense. The Marlins are still within striking distance of a wild card in the National League, however, with Wendell’s questionable availability a bit more uncertain than Drury’s.

On the mound, the concern about employees overworking is legitimate. Seattle’s Logan Gilbert scored seven home runs in his five matches against Texas on Saturday before attempting five innings, a run, and is expected to reach 200 innings, up from 119 1/3 innings of his previous career. There is a huge increase at the higher level. weather. George Kirby is on the innings count. Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexon have combined to make 324 innings.

A veteran like Pittsburgh’s Jose Quintana — reports suggest San Diego’s Mike Clevenger might as well — could be lucrative if the cost of a top-rotation branch like Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo is prohibitive. Brad Keller of Kansas City could be another relatively low-cost acquisition to expand the rotation.

Chasing a rental piece like Chicago Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras makes sense for a late-season push without hindering 25-year-old Cal Raleigh’s development.

One question that will haunt the franchise until the Mariners snap their 21-year postseason skid is how far the team is willing to go to compete with the best teams in Houston and the AL this year and beyond. According to former team chairman Kevin Mather in February 2021, payrolls remain depressed compared to last season, despite being “far above our weight on the television deal” with Root Sports.

Dipoto has proved that with the budget it has been given, it can make the Mariners competitive. It remains to be seen whether ownership of the team will invest the necessary resources to make the Mariners a perennial playoff team and a legitimate World Series contender.

seeing is believing.

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