Mariners ready to sell losses, not merch to Blue Jays fans

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays
Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

With their series-splitting 5-0 win over the Minnesota Twins putting them at 48-48 and five games behind the Houston Astros for the third AL Wild Card spot, the Seattle Mariners have a golden opportunity to make up ground and start a late-season turnaround. 

Coming to Seattle is the Toronto Blue Jays, just a couple of days removed from the debacle of the Mariners’ Team Store. The Blue Jays, who are 54-43 and in a Wild Card position, are prime for a big series win for the Mariners. 

Since 2021, the Mariners are 6-1 when playing at home against the Blue Jays and even had a fantastic performance against the team in last season’s Wild Card round. 

With the motivation from the Blue Jays’ merch being sold in the Mariner’s team store ahead of the series, several key contributors will have a fire lit beneath them that will look to be lit through the end of the season. 

The Mariners are set to throw out the trio of Bryce Miller, Logan Gilbert and Bryan Woo against the Blue Jays, who themselves are throwing a former Mariner. At this point in the season, every series hold weight, and with playoff expectations to start the year, fans are waiting for the series that sparks a winning streak.

Game 1: Bryce Miller vs. Yusei Kikuchi 

The Seattle Mariners lineup will look different in this series and going forward with Jarred Kelenic’s injury. After kicking a water cooler, Kelenic learned that the kick broke his foot, keeping him out indefinitely. 

As for the players that will be playing, on the mound to start first is Miller, who is coming off a 5.0 inning win against the Detroit Tigers. Those 5.0 innings were the furthest he had made it in a start over his last three outings, but with only Matt Brash and Paul Sewald having pitched Thursday, it will not be a problem if he can’t go seven strong. 

Miller is also far more dominant when he pitches in Seattle, putting up a 5-1 record and 2.84 ERA in seven home starts, much better than his 1-2 record and 4.85 ERA on the road. 

Opposing him is former Mariners top of the rotation starter in Kikuchi, who is 7-3 with a 4.13 ERA in 2023. On the road, Kikuchi has a 4.53 ERA and has a 6.43 in July through three starts. With a Mariner’s lineup that averaged 4.5 runs a game against the Twins in the previous series, they should hit very well against the lefty they are already so familiar with. 

Game 2: Logan Gilbert vs. Kevin Gausman

The second game of the series is the toughest starter that the Mariners are set to face Cy Young Award contender Gausman, who is 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 138 ERA+. His five losses are in part due to the “Jacob DeGrom” treatment he’s been getting from a lack of run support when he started.

As for Gilbert, he is 8-5 with a 3.65 ERA but an incredibly good 1.006 WHIP. Three of his previous five starts have been worth a Game Score of above 73, with him being 4-1 in his last five starts. It is his hottest stretch of the season and comes at the perfect time for a team looking for their playoff push win streak to start. 

Game 3: Bryan Woo vs. Alek Manoah 

In the final game of the series, the Mariners match up with a pitcher having a career-worst season and is one of the worst-qualified pitchers in the league. Manoah has been worth -1.1 WAR in a season where he is 2-8 with a 6.18 ERA, 1.836 WHIP and 68 ERA+. In his last three starts, he has gone a combined 7.1 innings and has given up 12 earned runs. 

If the Mariners’ offense will look to capitalize on this golden opportunity and get a series sweep against a fellow playoff contender. 

Pitching against Manoah is Woo, who is 2-2 in his last four starts but has given up no more than two earned runs in all four starts. His current stretch of starts is a good sign for a quality start against the Blue Jays, especially given the expectation that his offense will supply him run support. 

A bullpen piece to look out for in this series is Brash, whose season ERA is already down to 3.32 after his incredibly unlucky start