Earlier this week, I wrote about the immense struggles we’ve witnessed from Jesse Winker, the Mariners apparent blockbuster trade acquisition this past winter. With a forty-two-point drop in his OPS+ and some all-time blunders in left field, we made the case for the polarizing former top prospect Jarred Kelenic, to get another shot to help the team get into October. The very next day Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners called Kelenic up to bigs for the final stretch run. I’m sure I played a big role in this decision (0%), but it does bring us to a critical point in Kelenic and Seattle’s future.
Jarred Kelenic is back in Seattle, but as a spark or one last ride?
I wish the Mariners were a division-winning caliber team or a team that was comfortably storming towards the playoffs. They’re very likely to get it, but they’re also determined to make it as painful as possible. The offense looks broken, the defense is making too many mistakes, and the pitching can shut out only so many opponents.
This team needs a spark. We saw what Luis Torrens did last night, giving the Mariners at least a shot last night. Tomorrow afternoon, Kelenic has a chance to be that spark.
Jesse Winker’s season should, for all intents and purposes, be over. Every inning that he’s out in the field or at the plate is a clear attack by management on this ball club’s chances of being a real playoff team. To keep rolling him out there would be the definition of insanity. Kelenic has had his share of rough experiences this season, but his pros massively outweigh the cons.
From an offensive side, Jarred Kelenic was one of the worst hitters in all of baseball this year while he was in the majors. That is an unfortunate fact. It also means that the odds of him being THAT bad are slim. He continues to be a great hitter in Triple-A, and despite what we’ve seen from the Mariners offense the past week, they are facing Triple-A competition. This isn’t asking Kelenic to hot against Ohtani or Cole.
What if Jarred Kelenic struggles again?
In the short term, it can’t be any worse than what we’re seeing now. Kelenic also provides much better fielding in left, and better speed on the base paths. Even if he is still bad, he can be a wildcard in the postseason. Consider it one last ride.
In the long run, it would be Kelenic’s fourth failed time up in the majors. Not all call-ups have been equal, but with all the struggles and drama these two sides have experienced this season, you’d have to think it would be the final time Kelenic is wearing a Mariners jersey.
18 months ago, Kelenic was one of the most prized possessions in all of baseball. Now? Now, he’d likely be a throw-in on a trade for a player with similar struggles or baggage. I really hope that is not a conversation we are having this winter
What if it works with Jarred Kelenic?
Last September, Kelenic was one of the best hitters on the team when every game mattered. He slashed 242/.321/.537 in the final month of the season, as Seattle made it all the way to game 162 before being eliminated.
If Kelenic hit like that this season, the Mariners are probably walking away with the #4 seed. That potential, and so much more is in there. Imagine if it finally clicked for Kelenic, as the Mariners entered the playoffs. What a spark, what a jolt of energy. You’d be looking at a team that could be deep enough to truly threaten the Guardians and Yankees, and maybe even the Astros.
All year, we talked about how easy their final twenty games were going to be, and how Seattle would surge to the finish. Right now, Seattle is 1-5 at the beginning of this run. There are 14 games left, hopefully, Kelenic can spark this team and help the Mariners get to October on a high note