Three reasons for Mariners' recent success

The team is stacking series wins and climbing up the standings. What's driving nuclear run through July and August?

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels
Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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Julio has finally arrived

The first three months of Julio Rodriguez's 2023 campaign included too many strikeouts and less clutch hitting. Fortunately, the 22-year-old superstar is back on track and surprisingly projected for 5.4 fWAR for the season. Last year, Rodriguez accounted for 5.3 FWAR en route to winning the American League, Rookie of the Year award. The traditional numbers aren't outstanding (.257/.321/.433), but he's in the AL top 10 in barrel rate (10.8), and the strikeouts are trending downward (20% since June 22nd).

The Mariners have won five straight series and are officially streaking with a season-high five consecutive wins. While some underperforming veterans start turning the corner (looking at you, Ty France), a locked-in Rodriguez is a game-changer. I've often said Julio Rodriguez drives the Mariner offense, and when he is clicking, they are an entirely different team.

Addition by Subtraction

We've written extensively about general manager Justin Hollander and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, failing to round out the edges of the roster in the offseason. We sit here on August 7th with four of the five acquisitions off the roster (Hummell, La Stella, Pollock, Wong).

Fans clamored for a big splash at the trade deadline, hoping the dynamic duo would correct their wrongs. They wanted the position player equivalent of last year's deadline acquisition, Luis Castillo. Well, Dipoto did no such thing. He traded AJ Pollock to the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations, designated Kolten Wong for assignment, picked up a couple of exciting bullpen arms, and traded closer to Paul Sewald to augment an inconsistent offense.

Early returns on both Dominic Canzone and Josh Rojas aren't glowing (2 for 24), but it's early on their Mariner careers. It isn't time to write them off or the 2023 Mariners. Meanwhile, two veterans strugglingly mightily all season are off the roster and no longer taking key at-bats. The key recipients are Canzone and Cade Marlowe, with the latter providing a huge spark to the bottom third of the lineup.

The 26-year-old Marlowe has a .287/.381/.556 slash line over fourteen games and was instrumental in two late-inning comeback victories. That sure sounds like a strong case of addition by subtraction.

A Post-Paul Bullpen

Paul Sewald made a significant mark on the franchise and was a clubhouse leader for this team. Those guys are hard to replace. Then throw in that he left as the franchise all-time leader in WHIP (0.926), H/9 (5.5) & opp. AVG (.170), ranking 2nd in K/9 (12.4) & 4th in ERA (2.88), min 100 IP. Trading Sewald could've signaled the beginning of the end, but it had a galvanizing effect forcing manager Scott Servais to define new roles for his young arms.

We saw yesterday in Anaheim when a gassed pen without Andres Munoz, Matt Brash, and Gabe Speier shut down the Angels and was critical to earning the four-game sweep. 

Andres Munoz is the closer now, with Matt Brash, Justin Topa, and Gabe Speier sliding up the pecking order. That's a little experience, but the upside and stuff are tantalizing. Just look at Brash alone; he's sporting a 15.7 strikeout per nine rate right now. Throw in multi-inning relievers Isaiah Campbell and Tayler Saucedo, which has the makings of a dominant pen that the Mariners could ride to the postseason. We could see them add another flamethrower in Prelander Berroa soon to shorten games down the stretch.