The Orioles and Mariners are MLB’s Surprises of the Season

Orioles and Mariners

The Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles have both won 10 games in a row, and are both potential playoff contenders. Seattle is now in an AL Wild Card spot and is only 1.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the best Wild Card position.

Baltimore is now 45-44, and the team is two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, and the Mariners for the final wild-card spot. The entire AL East is now above .500 after the Orioles’ 10-game winning streak.

Seattle Takes Another Step Forward

Last year, the Mariners barely missed the playoffs and could have reached the postseason on the final day of the season. Seattle was 90-72, and added to the team in the offseason, signing Robbie Ray and trading for Adam Frazier, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suarez.

Ray has made 18 starts this season, and has a 3.51 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 110.1 innings. He leads a rotation that has been significantly improved this season as some of the Mariners’ young starters have continued to develop.

Logan Gilbert was incredible to start the season and has continued to pitch well throughout the year. Gilbert is 10-3 with a 2.80 ERA, and he has already thrown 106 innings in his second season in the MLB.

Chris Flexen and Marco Gonzalez have both been very consistent for the team this season, and rookie George Kirby has been phenomenal before being sent down to the minors last week. Kirby will return to the team in the second half of the season as he was sent down so the team could manage how many innings he throws.

Rookie Julio Rodriguez is the favorite for AL Rookie of the Year. He was selected to his first All-Star Game earlier this month, and already has 3.4 WAR in his first season in the MLB. Ty France has also been incredible, with a 140 OPS+ and 10 home runs.

There is still room for improvement for the Mariners. Jesse Winker, who was one of the best players in the league last season for the Reds before being traded to Seattle before the start of this season, didn’t get off to a great start but has improved during the last month. In addition, Mitch Haniger and 2020 Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis are both expected to return from the injured list soon.

The 10-game win streak has put Seattle in position to make the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. The Mariners are likely to make a few trades at the deadline before competing to reach the playoffs over the last two months of the season.

The Orioles Rebuild Nears Its End

The Baltimore Orioles last made the playoffs in 2016, when the team reached the AL Wild Card Game but lost to the Blue Jays. Since then, the franchise has gone through a rebuild over the last several seasons, including a 52-110 record last year.

Former No.1 overall pick Adley Rutschman has now made his debut in the MLB. The rookie catcher has hit four home runs in 43 games with an OPS+ of 99, which is league average. Across those 43 games, Rutschman has already accumulated 1.3 WAR and has been a key part of the Orioles’ success over the last two months.

Baltimore’s starting outfield; Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, and Austin Hays have already combined to provide the team with 6.1 WAR this season. All of them are under 27 years old, and Santander becomes a free agent after 2024 before Mullins and Hays reach free agency after 2025.

Ryan Mountcastle, who has mostly played first base this season, has also had a fantastic start to the year. The 25-year-old has hit 14 home runs so far this season with a .271/.307/.478 slash line, and he is another player the franchise can build around heading into the future.

Dean Kreamer, Tyler Wells, and Spenser Watkins have all been excellent in the starting rotation for Baltimore so far this season. The Orioles bullpen has also been very good this season, with a 3.19 bullpen ERA; fourth best in the American League.

The Orioles will still make a few trades in the future. Trey Mancini will likely be traded at this year’s trade deadline ahead of entering free agency, and Jorge Lopez, Jordan Lyles, and Santander, among others, are all trade candidates.

Despite that, the Orioles are likely nearing the end of their rebuild and could pursue several free agents this offseason. The team also has the No.1 overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft. In the future, both they and the Mariners should be positioned to make the playoffs for years to come.

 


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