The Seattle Mariners had an outstanding season in 2022, where they finished with a 90-72 record that was good enough to secure them second place in the American League West. While the record was very impressive, it was still a full 16 games behind the division-winning – and later World Series-winning – Houston Astros.
If the Mariners are to run down the Astros, then they will do so starting at home. The Mariners open on Thursday, March 30, at T-Mobile Park with the first clash in a four-game series with the Cleveland Guardians. The Mariners go back-to-back at home, playing their next three games against the Los Angeles Angels. Further home series in April see the Mariners face the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, and St. Louis Cardinals.
Here are three questions for the Mariners ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
Can they maintain the momentum?
It had been 21 years since the Mariners had made the playoffs. That streak of futility was broken last season, with the Mariners massively outplaying their expected production to hit the 90-win plateau. Staying at – or improving on – 90 wins might be more difficult than getting there in the first place.
The Mariners will rely on their young core to exceed their projected stats totals again. Most estimates have them sitting at the 84 or 85-win range heading into the season. They will need plenty to go right – they don’t have the depth to cover for injuries to their stars – and if they are making another playoff run after the All-Star Break, reinforcements might be needed.
Will the outfield be better?
That might sound like a weird question given that the Mariners will be starting 2022 American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez in center field. Rodriguez was a monster last season, putting up a 5.6 fWAR as he hit 28 home runs and was generally a menace at the plate and in the field.
The problem for the Mariners is that the rest of their outfield is a mess. They signed A.J. Pollock – though his role might be as much a mentor as an everyday player – especially given his own lack of production in 2022. This is certainly the area that the Mariners can most improve to up their win total. The question is if they have the horses to do so.
Is the pitching elite again?
Locking up Luis Castillo was essential, given how well he played after being acquired from the Reds at the trade deadline. Logan Gilbert and George Kirby were both excellent at times and have the stuff to improve further into 2023. If former Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray can recapture his best form – it would start by walking fewer batters and improving his strikeout numbers – then this is a staff that will be amongst the very best in baseball.