Ten games left, a near three-way tie at the top of the American League West with Texas and Seattle nipping at the Astros' heels. The wild card is even more of a beautiful mess with the Toronto Blue Jays in the mix. The Mariners kick off their postseason tonight at Globe Life Field against the Rangers. In a recent postgame interview with MLB insider Shannon Drayer, Superstar centerfielder Julio Rodriguez had this to say about a ten-game stretch to decide it all.
"Really excited. I feel like everybody is waiting to get to the field. Everybody is excited. Everybody is ready to compete. At the end of the day, we are going to lay everything on the line over there."- Julio Rodriguez on final playoff push
If the team is invested in these last three series of the 2023 season, manager Scott Servais should be making decisions like he would in the playoffs. He should pencil the best players in his lineup. Loyalty means nothing at this time of year. Not if you want your team to achieve its goals, including another playoff berth. Look at these two player's performances this month and ask yourself who should make the cut in a critical series this weekend.
Player A is a 2022 American League all-star and hit by pitch magnet Ty France. The first baseman has cratered offensively and doesn't provide any other attributes needed from a corner infielder. Player B, that's the Mariners' Babe Ruth, Mike Ford., who's been a better than league average bat (124) since his promotion in late May. The 31-year-old Ford still is striking out too much for my liking (34% in September), but he does provide more offensively than France.
France must provide the above-average bat-to-ball skills that have become his calling card since joining the Mariners three years ago. He came up with many clutch hits last season routinely going the other way to drive in key runs. The last straw was in this series with Oakland, where manager Mark Kotsay decided to intentionally walk Jarred Kelenic to face France, who immediately grounded out to end the inning.
Ford will never be mistaken for the 28-year-old France, mainly because their games are opposites. It's like trying to compare apples and oranges. You can't do that. However, the 2023 Mariners are built on pitching, a bloop, and a blast offense. Ford has the propensity to provide the pop part of that equation, homering every 19 at-bats, while France hasn't homered in two months.
Peak France is a formidable bat, but it's safe to say he hasn't been himself since early 2022. As the playoff pressure rachets up, it's time to pencil Mike Ford into the lineup…for our sanity's sake.