After going on a 14-game winning streak in July, the Seattle Mariners have climbed to fourth place in the American League standings. After spending a majority of the first half of the season in the lower half of the standings, the Mariners have made the conscious decision to capitalize on the momentum they have built and are looking to end their 21-year playoff drought.
Pushing the Chips in for Castillo
The Mariners’ rotation has been one of the best in the MLB in ERA (3.60) and WHIP (1.22) this season and that’s with a starting rotation that has one player who has an ERA under 3.50. Their pitching has been one of their bigger assets this season and the Mariners are hoping that the acquisition of former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Luis Castillo, can take it to another level.
In order to land Castillo, Seattle gave up two of their top three prospects: shortstop Noelvi Marte and shortstop Edwin Arroyo. Even though Castillo has one year left on his deal, the majority of people were shocked by the Reds’ return. It was the first notable trade near the deadline and their return was a sign of what a team would have to relinquish if they wanted a frontline starter.
Even though the Mariners had to give up more than most people thought they would have to in order to get Castillo, Castillo is still a two-time All-Star and is in the midst of the best season of his career.
In 14 starts and 85 innings pitched, Castillo has a 2.86 ERA, 90 strikeouts, a 1.071 WHIP, a 3.20 FIP and a 158 ERA+. Castillo missed the start of the season with a shoulder injury so he doesn’t have the amount of starts or innings pitched that the majority of starting pitchers have.
With the signing of reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray not panning out like the Mariners had hoped it would, Castillo should be able to provide them with valuable playoff pitching. He’s taken his fastball to another level this year, with batters hitting .125 against it compared to last year’s .257. With the Mariners in position to make the playoffs this season, Castillo has a chance to pitch in his second postseason ever.
Though Ray has underperformed thus far, the Mariners have received a significant contribution from second-year starting pitcher Logan Gilbert. The 25-year-old right-hander is carrying a 2.78 ERA in 123 innings pitched while striking out 118. He’s also No. 7 in WAR (2.9) and No.13 in WHIP (1.15) in the AL. Gilbert has been the Mariners’ ace and the addition of Castillo could take some pressure off him.
The Mariners have capable playoff starting pitchers, but their offense needs to take a step forward. In most of the traditional offensive stats (I know that’s not everybody’s cup of tea) they rank in the bottom half of the MLB.
Their key contributors have been their two All-Stars: center fielder Julio Rodríguez and first baseman Ty France. Eugenio Suárez has also helped out with 52 RBIs, but they’re going to need more come postseason time.
The organization traded two of their top prospects in the hopes that they could contend in the next two years, but still have offensive holes to fill. Seattle has time to mend those holes, and it will be imperative that they do.
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