It’s here. It’s finally here. Today is the day, and for the first time since October 22nd, 2001, the Mariners are going to be playing a playoff game. They’re in Toronto for a best-of-3 series, and instead of the normal series breakdown, I thought I would go a little deeper and do a game-by-game breakdown as we go throughout the series.
"“We’re going to end this f*cking drought.”"
A Game one preview for the Mariners @ Blue Jays Wild Card playoff game
There is just too much to talk about to leave it to a standard breakdown. I want to talk more about each pitcher that we are going to see, hitting matchups, and general storylines that might highlight each game. Let’s get started by looking at the pitching matchup in Game One.
Mariners @ Blue Jays: Game One Pitching Matchup
Friday, October 7th @ 01:07 PM: Luis Castillo vs Alek Manoah
Castillo had a couple of rough starts against the Athletics, and there is no arguing that he hasn’t been perfect since coming to the Mariners. However, he always shows up when they need a big start, as you could see in his regular-season finale against The Athletics. The Mariners really needed to get back on track, and Castillo came out and fired six innings of two-hit ball.
I’m interested to see how he attacks the RH-heavy lineup that is the Toronto Blue Jays. Here are his splits vs RH/LH
- RH – .217/.272/.317 – 5 HR, 14 2B, 290 AB
- LH – .206/.287/.348 – 8 HR, 14 2B, 267 AB
RH batters get a few more hits off of him, but his HR rate and 2B rate are better. That 2-seamer is nasty and could saw off and frighten a lot of those righties in the lineup. 99 mph with over a foot of movement? Yes, please. He actually faced Toronto earlier this year while on the Reds, going six innings, while allowing just two runs on seven hits and walking none.
On the other side, Alek Manoah is a freak in his own right. In his lone appearance against the Mariners this year, he went 7.1, allowing three hits and walking four, giving up two runs. The M’s will need to be patient and strike when given the opportunity, as Manoah had just a 0.88 ERA in September through 41 IP.
He is well below league average in hard-hit rate, barrel rate, exit velo, and generally most of the important pitching categories. Sporting a true four-pitch mix, expect to see a 4-seamer, slider, sinker, and changeup, as those are the order of his pitches. His 4-seamer was devastating this year, with a run value of -19, making it the 13th most devastating pitch in baseball this season. Castillo’s isn’t two shabby either, coming in at -18.
Mariners @ Blue Jays: Game One hitters to watch
Honestly, I could try and give you some X-factors here, but I think it is going to come down to the big boys for the M’s. Can they come through when it matters, especially with runners on base? Out of Julio, Geno, Big Dumper, and France, they are going to be the reason that the Mariners win or lose this series.
Of course, in saying that, it means that Abraham Toro is gonna have a 2-run double and Adam Frazier will have a key RBI single late.
Do watch for the trio of Dylan Moore, Jarred Kelenic, and Taylor Trammell. They have much bigger shoes to fill, and the opportunity to do so with Sam Haggerty and Jesse Winker out. There is a lot of youth and relative inexperience at the MLB level with this team, and they are going to need to blot out the noise of the Rogers Centre and rise to the occasion.
For the Blue Jays, well, they’re pretty good at the plate. First in BA (.264), third in OBP (.329), 3rd in SLG (.431), and T-2nd in OPS (.760). Led by Vlad Jr and his 32 HR, the M’s will need to watch out for virtually everyone in the lineup. Matt Chapman hit just .229 but had 27 HR. Their catchers (Kirk and Jansen) combined for 29 HR. Springer and Bichette can be a bit of a problem on the basepaths but are the only guys with double-digit steals on the team.
Mariners @ Blue Jays: Final Thoughts for Game One
I’m trying my hardest to stay contained and calm. It’s tough to go through the work day knowing that the Mariners are finally set to play a playoff game. The drought is over, and we are going to have postseason ball. There is definitely a worry that the M’s could let this get to them, overwhelmed by the experience and the joy of being a part of the team that broke the streak.
However, it honestly doesn’t seem like it in advance of Game One. They are all set up with their rotation, and they are healthy outside of Haggerty. I didn’t even mention the bullpen, but the Mariners have one of the best in all of baseball. I can’t wait for Game One and all the ones to follow. This has been a great year.
However… I don’t believe they are done. It’s impossible to know, but I feel good about this series. The Mariners have a rotation that is, hopefully, built for this. The hour draws near, and it’s almost time for Mariners baseball.