Four takeaways from the series loss to the Mets
The Mariners finally lost a series for the first time since early August, but the sky isn't falling. Here are my takeaways from the series (They aren't all negative).
The Seattle Mariners lost a series, a feeling that felt very foreign after a month plus of absolute dominance. Fans certainly feel the angst and pressure of the final month, but there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Here are my four takeaways from the series against the New York Mets.
Okay, let’s talk about this bullpen. The common narrative from fans and media is that this bullpen is elite, and to some extent this is accurate. Seattle has the second-best bullpen ERA in all of baseball, even after trading Paul Sewald at the deadline.
Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t doubt Jerry Dipoto’s ability to build a bullpen, I am not totally sold on this group. While there aren’t really any glaring holes on this team, I certainly think they can still improve.
Matt Brash and Andrés Muñoz are going to be the leverage guys, and nothing about that should change. While you don’t always feel great about them right now, they have elite stuff and are good high-leverage options.
Gabe Speier and Justin Topa are in the next tier, although you could make a case that Topa is the best reliever on this team. Both players have strengths that they maximize very well and have been matchup nightmares for opponents.
Tayler Saucedo is probably right on the fringe of the Topa/Speier group but has faltered a little bit recently. Overall he has been very good for most of the season and has certainly earned a place on this roster.
Isaiah Campbell has looked better recently with his command and the sharpness of his stuff but certainly isn’t a high-leverage option. Campbell is a solid middle reliever, which is absolutely useful.
The rest of the group includes Trent Thornton, Dominic Leone, and Luke Weaver. Among this group, Weaver has a clear role on this team. He is the guy who can give this team a spot start or length in a game where the starter falters. As for Leone and Thornton, I believe this team could and should try to upgrade.
I have long been outspoken that this team is at least one leverage arm short, probably two. It would benefit them to try searching for a better leverage option, and they do have several down in the minor leagues.
Riley O’Brien, Prelander Berroa, Ryder Ryan, and Casey Sadler all have the ability to make this team better. Seattle should be searching for some leverage options, and although Thornton and Leone have a chance to be average middle relievers I believe they need to explore other options to raise the ceiling.
He’s in the Can-Zone
Chills, Jerry Dipoto has done it again. In a much-maligned move, Jerry Dipoto traded his best reliever at the deadline for three hitters from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The headliner to many who are involved in prospect circles was left-handed outfielder Dominic Canzone.
Canzone owns a 98 wRC+ in a Mariner uniform, which is essentially league average. Even though this isn’t sexy, Canzone has posted a 119 wRC+ since August 11. His home run off the windows of the Hit It Here Cafe at T Mobile Park was a turning point in his season, and his performance against the Mets was certainly impressive.
I would continue to expect Canzone to get better, and his Baseball Savant page is absolutely eye-popping. Seattle has found a dude in the Paul Sewald trade, and he is making a huge difference in the length of this lineup.
More production from the corners
Seattle needs more production from their corner infielders, plain and simple. Obviously, Ty France got hit in the elbow by a fastball on Saturday night and may be headed for the IL, but the production from the corners has been very disappointing.
France looked as if he was heating up in early August, but things have tailed off in a big way. He isn’t driving the ball whatsoever, and his hard-hit rates and power numbers continue to be concerning. An IL stint isn’t ideal, but Seattle will need Mike Ford to produce in his absence.
Eugenio Suárez has been as good as it gets defensively in 2023. His value has mostly been held in his defense and his availability (he has played in every game in 2023). Suárez needs to hit if this team wants to hit their ceiling. His slugging percentage is well below league average for the position, and his wRC+ has dropped 27 points from his 2022 mark.
Seattle can’t rely on Teoscar Hernández and Julio Rodríguez to be as hot as they were in August and needs the veteran corner infielders to step up. I expect one of the two to pick it up down the stretch for the Mariners.
They are getting help
For the most part, Seattle is getting help from around the league. Toronto has been mediocre recently, and the Rangers have played poorly for roughly a month now. Even when Seattle has lost they have received help from the likes of the Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins.
Seattle still holds first place as of Sunday night, and they will continue to need help throughout the month of September. Seattle’s schedule is going to get much more difficult, and they will need some scrappy teams to win some games against the teams in the race to October.
Sea Level is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.