The Athletic ranked starting pitchers from "just a guy" to "Inner Circle", where did the Mariners come in?

The Athletic ranked starting pitchers from "just a guy" to "Inner Circle", where did the Mariners trio of studs come in?
Washington Nationals v Seattle Mariners
Washington Nationals v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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#7: Luis Castillo: Ranking 84.5 - 6 Ace Votes - 1 applicant vote - Was a 82.5 in 2023

We come to the current Ace of the Mariners rotation in Luis Castillo. Whether or not you think it's Castillo or Kirby going forward, it's probably Castillo currently just due to the experience that he has in the bigs. It's worth pointing out that he actually received less total Ace/applicant votes than Kirby did, but had six Ace votes compared to Kirby's two.

Part of this makes sense. If he isn't an Ace already, would the age-31 season for Castillo see enough growth to push him into that next tier? It happens, as sometimes pitchers learn enough to improve as they age, especially for ones that haven't already racked up the innings. It's really important to note that Castillo has only thrown 1054 innings in his career. Even though it's going to be his 8th season, he only has about 6 years worth of innings on his arm. To think that he has another 1000 innings in there isn't a crazy thought at all.

Castillo bumped up a bit from his 2023 ranking, and I have to think that those final two starts in September last season actually hurt him. If he hadn't finished strong, seeing the Mariners go 10-0 over his final ten starts, then Castillo likely would've jumped up a lot here, and busted into the next tier, alongside Zach Wheeler and Corbin Burnes with their rating of 93 and 94. Yes, I think it would've been that much of a difference.

All in all, I think Mariners' fans should be happy about these rankings. Castillo is pushing into Ace territory as a top-7 pitcher. Kirby is knocking on the door after just two season, barely falling outside the top-10. Then, you have Gilbert, the team's #3 but still a top-20 pitcher in baseball. It's a massive boon for any franchise to have... now, let's just hope it translates to success in 2024 for the Mariners.