IT’S HERE! Opening Day is finally here! The Mariners, originally scheduled to take the field on March 31st at home against the Detroit Tigers are instead in Minnesota to take on the Twins.
There are so many exciting things to look forward to this year with the Mariners. Robbie Ray is here to lead the staff, coming off an incredible Cy Young season for Toronto. The team swung a couple of impressive trades to get Frazier, Suarez, and Winker. Then, there are the plethora of impressive and highly talented prospects that will be arriving. Julio is here already, as is Brash. Kirby should be soon, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a couple more along the way.
It’s Opening Day, and the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins are set to take the field in Minnesota to open the 2022 MLB Season
Let’s take a look at both sides of the ball. It’s a four-game series, so we get to see all of the Mariners starters in this opening series OTHER than Matt Brash. That’ll have to wait till the next series against the White Sox in Chicago. It’s not just Mariners fans that are excited to see what the new team looks like, as the Twins have added guys like Sonny Gray, Carlos Correa, and Gary Sanchez to their team. Let’s start off by looking at the pitching matchups
Mariners vs Twins: Pitching matchups (local time/Pacific)
Friday, April 8th @ 1:10 PM – Robbie Ray vs Joe Ryan
Saturday, April 9th @ 11:10 AM – Logan Gilbert vs Sonny Gray
Sunday, April 10th @ 11:10 AM – Marco Gonzales vs Bailey Ober
Monday, April 11th @ 4:40 PM – Chris Flexen vs Dylan Bundy
Mariners fans have been waiting a long time for opening day. Not just because it will mean that real baseball is finally back, but because we get to see Robbie Ray on the mound for the first time in a regular-season game. He, and the rest of the Mariners pitchers, are going to have their hands full with a Twins lineup that has some very dangerous hitters in it, including two strong MVP candidates.
Then, there’s Logan Gilbert. After adding ~5-6 mph on his slider, he is throwing with a lot more velo and movement. Having two top-level pitches that he can rely on, alongside a change and curve that he throws occasionally, can push him to the next level and possibly All-Star status.
After the two hard throwers, the Mariners completely switch gears and go with Marco and Flexen, who are crafty instead of nasty, inducing contact and relying on their defense instead of strikeouts. It’s a big paradigm shift on the mound, and it’ll be fun all year to see how hitters adjust to such a different style of throwing.
For the Twins, Joe Ryan gets the nod vs Ray, despite having just 26 IP in his career. He did manage an incredible 0.788 WHIP last year, which is quite impressive. Next up is Gray, who they acquired from the Reds in the offseason. Ober is like Ryan, in that he is under 100 IP for his career. The series finishes out with Bundy, who the Twins signed in FA. Two vets, and two very green pitchers for the Twins.
Mariners vs Twins: Hitters to watch
Mariners: Julio, Suarez, Winker, and Kelenic
Twins: Buxton and Correa
Are any of those really that big of a surprise? Later on in the season, we will take a closer look at matchups, finding players who are on hot streaks, or ones that need to break out of slumps. Maybe even guys who have had success against certain pitchers.
For now, though, it’s the big names that I want to look at for the Twins. Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. Correa signed the funky 3-year deal with the Twins in a surprise move and will provide a massive boost to their lineup. Buxton signed one of the most amazing deals in MLB history, as his incentives can make it a very lucrative contract.
However, the same worry sits with both players. Health. If they play 160 games each, watch out world. Remember, Buxton started insanely hot last season. The Mariners are going to need to try and walk the line of wariness when facing these two, as they can both crush the ball and stripe it all over the field. If Buxton walks, you might as well let him go to second, cause he is likely going to end up there anyway.
With the Mariners, I wanna watch the young outfielders in Kelenic and Julio. Can Kelenic continue to turn it around? He had a really nice September last year to close out the season, and a strong finish to spring training this year as well. He was a top-5 prospect in all of baseball for a reason. Pair him with current Wunderkind Julio Rodriguez, and the Mariners have the potential for the most exciting young outfield combination in all of baseball.
Then, there are the Reds guys who we acquired. We all know that Winker can DESTROY RHP, as he hit .346/.428/.642 last season. It’s also not that long ago that Suarez was hitting an abundance of home runs. He hit 34 in 2018 and 49 in 2019. He still hit 31 last season, but with an awful batting average. If the shoulder injury is what was holding him back, we could be seeing quite the resurgent season from Suarez at the hot corner.
It’s finally here, and I don’t know that I could be more excited for the Mariners this year. It’s going to be a fun year, and the wait is over. Go Mariners!