The season is over. Bring on the postseason.
The baseball season is done, and Your Seattle Mariners finished in disappointing fashion. But not surprising, right? I mean, the way the year started did any of us really think they'd make the postseason? There was real hope after that fantastic August, sure, but they never got smarter about things. Anyway, there's lots of points to make in a future 2023 Mariners dissection post, but tonight I'm going to look ahead to the ’23 postseason, which begins in about 9 hours.
Tomorrow's full slate of games is courtesy of Commissioner Manfred's new Wild Card Series, which, OK, I don't really support, but it's here so we'll roll with it. Doubtful it'll ever go away now that it's in place. I'll save my screaming into the wind rants about such things for the Designated Hitter rule and the Manfred Man zombie runners in extra innings (thank god there are none of those in the post).
Anyway, here's the bracket:
My rooting interests, such as they are, are:
In the AL (a) for Toronto, just because, y'know, yay Canada (although nothing against Minnesota, so that one can go either way for me); (b) against Texas, so go Rays despite your ugly, ugly ballpark; (c) against Houston in the ALDS (obvs) and (d) for Baltimore other ALDS. The nightmare scenario is the Astros and Rangers both advancing.
National League (a) for Milwaukee, but not with much fervor; (b) for Miami, just because the Phils won last year's pennant when they didn't deserve it; (c) probably against the Dodgers in a kind of support-the-underdog way, though I imagine LA will walk all over whoever they draw in their NLCS; and (d) against Atlanta, though likewise they'll probably win big.
Mostly I just hope for dramatic games and series. And/or humiliating losses for the Astros and Rangers.
Now, for those wondering which team to root for based on their connection to the Mariners—i.e. Karen—or for those who subscribe to the Seattle version of what Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko used to call the "Ex-Cub Factor," here are the playoff teams featuring former Seattle Mariners. (Royko described the ex-Cub Factor, or ECF, as a debilitating pathogen that is inescapable for any team once three ex-Cubs are on the roster: "When there are three, this horrible virus comes together and multiplies and becomes so powerful it makes the other players weak, nearsighted, addle-brained, slow-footed, and lacking in hand-eye coordination." Even if a team has less than three, it might not be safe: “A team with no ex-Cubs probably has the edge on a team that has even one.” Adapting the Cubs' futility of Royko's day to the Mariners' haplessness of, well, nearly their whole existence, you can apply the formula to ex-M's.)
Baltimore Orioles (1)
- Adam Frazier (2B): Frazier spent one year in Seattle, 2022, when he posted an unremarkable line of .238/.301/.311. He did slightly better this year in Baltimore, .240/.300/.396.
Houston Astros (2)
- Kendall Graveman (RHP): The Undertaker was great in short relief for the M's in 2021 until he was dealt (with Montero) to Houston as the trade deadline approached. He moved on to Chicago, then was traded to Houston again almost two years to the day later. He had an OK year between the White Sox and Astros.
- Rafael Montero (RHP) : This guy was gawd-awful for Seattle. Then he was good as an Astro last year, this year he regressed to resemble the guy we knew as a Mariner. Not as bad, but bad enough: ERA over 5.00 and WHIP above 1.500.
Minnesota Twins (1)
- Emilio Pagán (RHP): Pagán came up in the Mariners' farm system and had a decent rookie campaign in Seattle in 2017. He was then traded to Oakland for a lousy corner infielder. This is his second year in the Twin Cities and he's done quite well in short relief appearances.
Tampa Bay Rays (1)
- Shawn Armstrong (RHP): Armstrong only played in 18 games with the M's (2018-2019) and was pretty bad. He was great out of the Rays' bullpen this year, though (52 IP, 1.38 ERA, 0.904 WHIP).
Toronto Blue Jays (2)
- Erik Hanson (RHP): Traded to the Jays after last season for Teoscar Hernández, Swanson had himself a pretty good season as a setup reliever north of the border. He still hasn't been given the chance to close, but he's good enough to do it.
- Yusei Kikuchi (LHP): Yusei's second year in Toronto was significantly better than his first; he posted career-bests in basically everything. Which isn't to say he was the kind of ace he was back in his Seibu Lions days in Tokorozawa, he still only managed about five innings per start and served up too many homers, but he more than held his own as a mid-rotation fixture.
Texas Rangers (0)
- No ex-Mariners active here, although infielder/outfielder Brad Miller is on their Injured List.
Atlanta Braves (0)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2)
- Kolten Wong (2B): As predicted, Wong caught on with another team shortly after the Mariners released him this past August. As predicted, he was much better with the new team than he was with the M's (.300/.353/.500 in 20 games with LA).
- Chris Taylor (IF/OF): In just one of many lousy trades made by the Mariners, Taylor was dealt to LA in 2015 for a guy named Zach Lee. Who? Exactly. Taylor has been a solid utility player for the Dodgers ever since, even making the All-Star team in 2021. This year his numbers aren't anything special, and he still strikes out too much, but you never know when he's going to deliver the big hit.
Milwaukee Brewers (4, 1 active)
- Carlos Santana (1B): Santana started the year as a Pittsburgh Pirate, but was traded to Milwaukee near the trade deadline to shore up a Brewer lineup plagued with injuries. He did OK (.249, 11 HR).
- Jesse Winker (OF, injured): Winker had a terrible season, batting under .200 and spending the bulk of it on the shelf. He hasn't played since just after the All-Star break.
- Abraham Toro (IF, inactive): Fatty Tuna spent most of the season in the minors, getting into only nine Major League games in 2023. He's not likely to be on the playoff roster, but could be used if someone gets hurt.
- J.B. Bukauskas (RHP, inactive): This guy made one relief appearance with Seattle before being placed on waivers and claimed by the Brewers. He spent most of the year in Triple-A and is unlikely to be on the playoff roster.
Philadelphia Phillies (1)
- Taijuan Walker (RHP): A two-time Mariner—traded first to Arizona with Ketel Marte for Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura, then after returning years later to Seattle traded again to the Blue Jays for minor leaguer Alberto Rodríguez, Tai signed as a free agent with Philadelphia prior to this season. He had a serviceable year in the Phillies' starting rotation, but nothing to write home about other than posting a career high in innings pitched.
Miami Marlins (1)
- J.T. Chargois (RHP): After a decent half-season in Seattle, J.T. was traded to the Rays for Diego Castillo. He moved downstate to Miami this year and put up OK numbers as a middle reliever.
Arizona Diamondbacks (3, 2 active)
- Paul Sewald (RHP): Traded from the M's to the Snakes this past July 31st, Sewald saved 13 games for Arizona, but his ERA and WHIP got considerably worse in the desert (2.93, 1.023 in 43 IP as a Mariner, 3.57, 1.472 in 18 innings as a Diamondback).
- Ketel Marte (IF/OF): Perhaps the best of today's Diamondbacks, Marte's year wasn't as good as his All-Star campaign of 2019, but still plenty good. He gets on base, hits for average, hits for occasional power, can steal a base once in a while, and can play a decent middle infield or center field. Ketel was last with the M's in 2016 and the trade he was in (with Taijuan Walker for Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura) was one of those good-for-everybody deals.
- Kyle Lewis (OF, inactive): Mister Streaky was Rookie of the Year in the truncated 2020 season as a Mariner, and I'd bet real money had that been a regular-length season that he wouldn't have been in the top three. He won the award based on a fantastic three week stretch that preceded three weeks of futility. He followed that up with two injury-hampered seasons, got dealt to Arizona for C/OF Cooper Hummel, was briefly hurt again after a disappointing first few weeks of this season, then came back and was optioned to Triple-A. In the minors he tore the cover off the ball. Called back up to Phoenix mid-season, he stank again. Sent back down, he raked again. The Snakes have five outfielders on the active roster, so odds are there won't be room for Lewis unless they go deep into the tournament and/or someone gets hurt.
So, depending on how you reckon things, the Diamondbacks or the Brewers have the most ex-Mariners. Or the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Blue Jays tie with two each. I have a kind of weird desire to see Kolten Wong have a spectacular playoff run, just to prove he's better than he got much chance to be here.