Top 15 Mariners of 2023: Luis Castillo leads the rotation as the #2 player this season
I'm not going to say it was momentous enough to etch itself into the minds of Mariners fans everywhere, but for some reason I can remember exactly what I was doing and where I was when the Mariners acquired Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds. At a local high school playing in a men's league baseball game. I checked my phone in-between innings, and saw Twitter and multiple group text threads blowing up.
The Mariners had acquired Luis Castillo, the pitching gem of the deadline, in exchange for Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Levi Stoudt, and Andrew Moore. They'd given up some of their best prospects, but it ended up all being worth it for 2022 with how Castillo led the way and proved his Ace status in Toronto in the WC game.
Now, we head into 2023 and are about to see Castillo, newly minted to an extension, in his first full season as a Mariners (hopeful) Ace. If not for some kid, he easily would've been the number one player on our list heading into the season.
Luis Castillo is our #2 Mariners player heading into the 2023 season
He's one of the low-key favorites for the Cy Young this year, sitting right around 10th in odds, and actually very close to Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert, all nestled around 9th-12th depending on where you look. I think the two-time All-Star is being discounted a bit, as he only threw 150 IP last season. Part of that, in my personal opinion, was the knowledge that he was going to be traded during the season, so they took his April and May very cautiously in Cincinnati.
Before that, we saw 190.2, 70 (189 in a normal season), and 187.2 IP in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Castillo can make all 32 starts, and give you about 6 IP per start. With a K rate in the low-to-mid 10s, we should see somewhere around 220 Ks. With a 3.17 ERA and a 2.91 FIP after coming to Seattle, I think we are in for a special season from Castillo. Cincinnati is a hitters paradise. Seattle is the opposite. With a steady defense behind him (top 5 in fewest errors and fielding percentage), Castillo could see that ERA fall below 3 this season.
I think a lot of Mariners fans are nervous. For once, it's not because we don't even know who is going to be going out there on the mound. It's the fact that the rotation could be so darn good. Three guys in the top 12 in Cy Young odds PLUS George Kirby? Flexen or Marco in the 5 spot? It wasn't that long ago, just 2021, that Marco was the #1 pitcher on the team. Now, he might not even be able to crack the rotation.
Luis Castillo leads the way for the Mariners, and I have a strong feeling that he is going to crack the top 3 for Cy Young odds at some point this season. 2023 looks to be a fun one... just not for opposing hitters.