Could Jarred Kelenic help fuel the playoff push?

23-year-old is on track for rehab assignment this week with Tacoma.
Seattle Mariners v San Francisco Giants
Seattle Mariners v San Francisco Giants / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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September baseball, at least relevant late-season baseball, is so refreshing. It's exciting when your team is in the middle of the playoff chase, making history by winning 21 of their past 26 games, and their superstar is breaking records nightly. Do you know what else is intriguing for the Mariners? The return of five-tool outfielder Jarred Kelenic from a truly heartbreaking injury.

According to MLB insider, Shannon Drayer, General manager Justin Hollander recently said the 23-year-old is on track to start an extended rehab assignment with Tacoma on Tuesday or Wednesday. With the added depth from the Paul Sewald trade with Arizona (Dom Canzone) and the steady performance of Cade Marlowe and Dylan Moore, the team can be cautious with Kelenic and allow him to get his timing down for the stretch run.

The length of the lineup is a blessing for manager Scott Servais, as the team struggled to find consistency for the first three months of the season. I could argue that Kelenic carried the Mariners in April and May when he slashed .277/.333/.846. Adding him to the September roster could pay huge dividends, considering the Mariners still have three games against the Astros and seven versus the Rangers to end the season.

"One of our best defensive outfielders, for big stretches of the season he has been one of our best hitters," said Hollander. "We will find a way. Even with everybody playing the way they are, he fits on our team and we will be thrilled to get him back. He was probably our most consistent offensive player for a two-month stretch of the season to start and, you know, I have no reason to believe he won't come in and hit the ground running."

Justin Hollander on Kelenic's return

A late September lineup in those critical matchups with the two Texas teams could look something like this:

Position/Name

wRC+

SS - Crawford

131

CF - Rodriguez

131

3B - Suarez

107

C - Raleigh

115

DH - Hernandez

109

1B - France

108

LF - Kelenic

109

RF - Canzone

99

2B - Rojas

124

This lineup doesn't account for the bench pieces and platoon partners like Cade Marlowe (114), Dylan Moore (138), Jose Caballero (106), Mike Ford (122) and possibly the return of speedster Sam Haggerty. Four out of five of these players are above league average. That is a far cry from the trajectory and output of the team earlier in the season when Caballero, Kelenic, and the pitching was keeping them afloat.

After taking his frustrations out on the dugout water cooler and seemingly ending his breakout season, it's great to see a possible Kelenic return next month That could be just one of the many September storylines as the Mariners come down the home stretch of the 2023 season.