clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Some nice words about the players most in danger of being left off the playoff roster

It’s a team effort

Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Yesterday, John gave a good rundown of the likely Wild Card Round roster. And it’s been a constant topic of discussion in the comments across the site for weeks. But in having to make choices, I’d hate to lose sight of the fact that many more than 26 guys got the Mariners to where they are today. So with that in mind, here’s some praise about all the guys on the bubble. (I will not be covering Sam Haggerty, who would be a mortal lock for the playoff roster if not for his injury and who, frankly, deserves a whole article in praise of his contributions.)

Marco Gonzales

Key stat: 17 QS

Marco has been a divisive player around these parts because on the one hand, he’s no longer the pitcher he was between 2018-2020, but on the other hand, he continues to pitch like a bulldog. All season long, he has reliably given the team a chance to win. His 17 quality starts is tied for 24th in MLB, and his 176 innings pitched ranks 30th. You know how you get a dominant bullpen? By not overtaxing them, and Marco’s role in that should not go unappreciated–it’s an extraordinarily rare thing in a fifth starter. He’ll do it again when he empties the tank this afternoon to keep as many arms fresh for the weekend as possible. Season highlights include his seven strikeout/one walk dominance of Anaheim on August 7 and when he went toe-to-toe with Max Scherzer in Queens. But sending this team into the season with the whole city behind it by dominating the Astros in the home opener will be the lasting memory.

Chris Flexen

Key stat: 3.73 ERA

Similar to Marco, Flexen didn’t put himself in the Cy Young conversation, but he showed up for the team all season. And he did it without a whiff of complaint, amiably taking unglamorous assignments like going to the long relief when Luis Castillo was brought in mid-season. He was let down by the offense in the early season stretch where he had seven starts that garnered only seven total runs of support. And he came through during some tough situations, like when he pitched on short rest in the 14th game of the winning streak. Flexen’s 300 innings over the past two seasons have brought stability to a team that needed it while it broke in a slew of young players. My favorite Flexen moment this year was his four-inning save to rescue an exhausted bullpen on August 30 and secure Game 2 of the seven-game winning streak that really locked the Mariners into a playoff spot. This was also the game that saw his 2023 option vest—the hug he shared with Raleigh after the game was as emotional as we see him get, but it was well deserved.

Penn Murfee

Key stat: 16.9 inches average horizontal break on slider (3.7 inches above average)

Murfee has faded a bit down the stretch, but he’s the kind of pop-up guy that playoff teams depend on. In his first trip to the big league club, he didn’t even get to pitch. But as soon as he made his first iconic Count Dracula look-in to the plate, it was clear he would be a key contributor to the 2022 Mariners. Despite a fastball velocity in the sixth percentile, he listened to the coaching staff and maximized his vertical approach angle and how to play his vicious slider off of it.

Matt Festa

Key stat: 29.2% K%

Matt Festa barely made the roster, only securing his spot after Ken Giles got hurt (the first time). Spending most of the season at number seven on the bullpen depth chart, he made the most of his opportunities, reliably allowing the team a chance to make a comeback. His 11-game scoreless streak surrounding the All Star break was a big part of how the Mariners clawed their way back into contention.

Matt Boyd

Key stat: 2 R, 0 HR allowed

Boyd hasn’t pitched much, but when he showed up at the trade deadline, he gave fans a local kid to root for. That’d prove to be important when he was the player best able to capture what breaking the drought meant to this fan base.

Taylor Trammell

Key stat: .214 ISO

TT bounced up and down between Seattle and Tacoma a lot this year. But when he was with the big league club this year, he was able to hold his own against MLB pitching. Any team in MLB would be lucky to have Trammell as their fifth outfielder. His biggest contribution to this squad came when he was propping up the rest of the team as they scuffled in May and June. His 126 wRC+ over that stretch allowed them to scrape together wins that may have felt pointless in the moment but turned out to matter a lot.

Jesse Winker

Key stat: 84 BB (T-8th in MLB)

Certainly more was expected of Winker when the Mariners gave up a meaningful package to get him from Cincinnati in March. But amid all the griping, you may have missed that he’s helped the club more than he’s hurt it. His keen eye for the zone kept his wRC+ in positive territory, and even as his power’s been low by his standards, his 53 RBIs, fifth most on the team, mattered. The Winker highlight I’ll remember from this season was that his anger during the Angels brawl was driven by his desire to protect Julio.

Abraham Toro

Key stat: 4 ninth-inning HR

In a 162-game slog, you need to field a huge number of players. Abraham Toro was one of them. And no, he didn’t have a great year, but his fun-loving attitude made it easy to root for him even when he was flailing. Plus, while the rest of the team was getting their lunch absolutely eaten by the Astros this season, Toro had a 116 wRC+ against Houston in the high leverage of the seventh inning or later. That’s no small accomplishment against the team with the lowest bullpen ERA in baseball, especially one we all take so much pleasure in beating.