Mariners Series Standout: First road series against the Guardians highlighted by Jarred Kelenic
By Brandon Willman
In their second series against the Guardians and first road series of the young 2023 season, a young Mariners star was the breakout contributor of the series. Someone who Mariners fans remain hopeful for despite early career struggles had five hits in the series, that player was Jarred Kelenic.
After getting three hits in his first five starts of the year, he had three hits and an OPS of .517. It was not the start he or his fans imagined him to have. Against the Guardians, he flipped the script. Getting the start in all three games, Kelenic went 5-13 with two doubles and two RBI.
Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, his five hits in the three-game series tie the most that he has had in a three-game span, something he has done four times in his career. His .385/.429/.539 slash line that produced a .967 OPS was the lowest of those four spans, but it certainly is nothing to scoff at.
After the series, his season line is .286/.333/.393 for an OPS of .726. All four of those are above his career averages, a good sign for the 23-year-olds career trajectory. His OPS+ on the year is at 107, but with more series like the one he had against Cleveland, that will continue to climb.
Another positive sign is he is still hitting the ball hard. His average exit velocity is in the 77th percentile and his hard-hit percentage is in the 93rd percentile. Although, despite not chasing outside the zone (70th percentile) and not having a horrific whiff percentage (56th percentile), he is not walking and striking out.
He has just an 18th percentile walk rate and is striking out in the 10th percentile. The good thing is it seems like he is having fun playing the game. Throughout the Guardians series, he was caught by cameras on multiple occasions smiling with his teammates. The league is in trouble when the lefty is having fun.
Another lefty that had a surprising series was Marco Gonzales. In his start in the second game of the series, he went 5.2 innings, giving up six hits but just a single earned run en route to a 3-2 Mariners series-clinching victory. His changeup particularly was fooling Josh Bell, as Marco looked like the DH’s kryptonite.
Marco has the Cubs series off for rest, but look for Kelenic to lose a ball past the ivy at Wrigley Field in the upcoming three-game set.