On to Toronto: Mariners postseason FAQ

October 6th, 2022

SEATTLE -- So much has been made of the anticipation leading up to the Mariners’ first postseason berth since 2001 that, now that it’s here, it’s finally time to look ahead at how the club will strategically attack October.

Seattle's American League Wild Card Series matchup in Toronto begins Friday, meaning there's not much time for the No. 5 seed Mariners to sort out any roster decisions and answer key questions before they enter territory that they haven’t reached in decades and take on the No. 4 seed Blue Jays.

What could the postseason roster look like?

Teams can adjust their rosters ahead of each round, and they often do, especially as the playoffs shift from shorter to longer series, when there becomes a greater need for starting pitching. In the best-of-three Wild Card Series, the Mariners won’t need to carry their entire rotation and instead will opt for a much deeper bench.

C: Cal Raleigh, Curt Casali
1B: Ty France, Carlos Santana
2B: Adam Frazier
SS: J.P. Crawford
3B: Eugenio Suárez
UTIL: Dylan Moore, Abraham Toro
OF: Julio Rodríguez, Mitch Haniger, Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, Cade Marlowe
SP: Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert
RP: Paul Sewald, Andrés Muñoz, Diego Castillo, Erik Swanson, Matt Brash, Chris Flexen, Penn Murfee, Matthew Festa

Outfield prospect Cade Marlowe was in the Mariners' clubhouse following the regular-season finale and traveled with the club to Toronto, though in order to include him on the roster, he'll need to be added to the 40-man roster. It's possible that the Mariners could move Sam Haggerty, who was placed on the 10-day IL on Tuesday, to the 60-day IL to clear that spot. They could transfer reliever Ryan Borucki, who's been out with a left flexor strain since Aug. 9.

Marlowe, who was recently named the club's Edgar Martinez Dominate the Zone Hitter Award winner among Minor Leaguers, could potentially fill the sparkplug role off the bench vacated by Haggerty, who will miss the postseason after sustaining a Grade 2 adductor strain on Monday.

With Haggerty out and Jesse Winker sidelined with a cervical disc bulge that forced him to the 10-day IL on Wednesday, the Mariners recalled Abraham Toro and Taylor Trammell this week from Triple-A Tacoma, both of whom otherwise might've been longshots for the roster.

As for the pitching staff, Marco Gonzales won't be included since he threw 106 pitches in Wednesday's regular-season finale. George Kirby will likely move to a bullpen role of some sort, perhaps taking the role of lefty longman Matthew Boyd, who could be the odd man out since the Blue Jays' lineup is almost righty exclusive.

What time are the games and where will they be broadcast?

MLB announced Wild Card broadcast details as follows:

Friday: 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN
Saturday: 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN
Sunday (if necessary): 2 p.m. ET/11 PT, ABC

ROOT Sports does not have broadcasting rights for postseason games, but Jen Mueller and other on-air talent are scheduled to lead the network’s pre- and postgame coverage live. Brad Adam traveled with the team to Toronto and will contribute on-site coverage.

How will the rotation line up?

The only starter that's been named so far is Luis Castillo for Game 1, though Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert will follow in some order after, both of whom will be on extra rest.

Obviously, winning the next day's game matters more than ever, but sitting in the on-deck circle in the AL Division Series should Seattle advance are the Astros and Minute Maid Park, where Ray has been battered in two starts this year. There could be logic in starting Gilbert in Game 2 and Ray in Game 3 to line up Ray to face the Astros in a potential ALDS Game 3 back in Seattle. That might be getting ahead, but it's certainly part of the calculus.

Whenever Ray takes the mound this weekend, he'll be doing so against the team that he won the AL Cy Young Award with last season before signing a free-agent deal with Seattle. Ray did not travel to Toronto when the Mariners were there in May due to vaccination requirements, which have since been lifted. Gilbert threw seven innings and struck out nine in a May 17 start at Rogers Centre.

How have they done against the Blue Jays?

The Mariners went 5-2 against the Blue Jays in the regular season. It was a tale of two series in Seattle’s matchups with its Canadian rivals, who always draw a huge crowd at T-Mobile Park given Seattle’s proximity to the border. In Toronto in May, the Mariners were in an offensive rut and struggled to give their starters run support while dropping two of three. Then in July, Seattle was in the middle of its 14-game win streak, headlined by a walk-off homer by Suárez in the series opener.

How’s Julio doing?

How far the Mariners go this October will hinge heavily on the health of Julio Rodríguez, who put the finishing touches on his AL Rookie of the Year Award bid in the regular-season finale, crushing his 28th homer to lead off the first inning. Rodríguez returned from the 10-day IL on Monday and says he feels much better from a lower back strain that had begun bothering him three weeks ago.

"I feel like we're going to be playing the best baseball," Rodríguez said. "I feel like baseball that is selfless and everybody here is just driving to win the game. I'm excited to play that baseball with everybody here, and I know that's a place where we like to play, so it's just more of the same for us."

It's a hugely welcome sign for an offense that looks completely different without him.

"We've got to keep him healthy," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He's completely healthy now. I think the biggest sigh of relief I had today was the point of getting him out of the game, because I knew we were in good shape for when we get to Toronto."