Where does the Athletic rank each of the Mariners starting pitchers?

Are the Mariners finally getting their respect across the national baseball landscape? The Athletic has their starters ranked incredibly well for 2024

93rd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard
93rd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

What’s Scott Servais to do when three of the guys on his staff would be the opening-day ace for just about every other club in baseball? What a departure from not very long ago when Marco Gonzalez was the opening-day starter for three years straight. That’s not to throw shade at Marco at all he’s one of my favorite guys to don NorthWest green. Nobody was ranking him in the top five in all of baseball, though.

Luis Castillo, the named starter for March 28th against Boston, isn’t even the highest-ranked individual Mariner hurler. That accolade goes to George Kirby according to the rankings released earlier this month by The Athletic’s Eno Sarris. Before we dive into the individual rankings it’s worth noting that MLB.com has the Seattle staff ranked best in baseball. In 2023 we weren’t even in the top 10, which speaks more to the talent at the back end of this rotation getting credit.

Eno Sarris looks at it a bit differently, stating in his article "Stuff+ is the statistic that uses machine learning to evaluate pitchers based entirely on the physical characteristics of their arsenals." Let’s dive into each starter and their individual rankings.

Number 5: George Kirby

Turns out elite command is still a valued asset in today’s game. Kirby has the best in the game. Just about every advanced metric proves that to be the case. Even before he was seen as one of the best in the game George was being compared to one of the best to ever do it in Greg Maddux from a control standpoint. He also throws several MPH faster than the Atlanta Hall of Famer. This comparison, while justified from a stuff standpoint, was largely dismissed by national media.

Kirby just had not had the success necessary to put his name in the same category. One year later though it seems he’s not only met but exceeded the expectations. In addition to supreme control, George has dialed in his secondary pitches and set himself up to challenge the next guy on our list for the opening day 2025 nod. What an outstanding problem to have if you’re managing this squad. Must be all that good livin’ Scott.

Number 7: Luis Castillo

La Piedra has lived up to his moniker since he came over from the Reds to anchor this staff. Every time he’s taken the bump it feels like it can be penciled in as a W. He didn’t miss a start all season for Seattle in 2023. Youth and the risk that comes with it make up the rest of the Mariner staff, so having his presence and veteran leadership has been a godsend. The presence and experience is probably why Servais gave him the nod over Kirby for opening day. Being ranked behind the guy sitting second in line nationally has got to light a fire under Luis to prove he’s still the guy.

A repeat performance of last season would mean Kirby probably has to win a Cy Young to overtake him going into 2025. The mental toughness and competition between George and Luis will undoubtedly push them both to be even better than they could be without each other. Mere mortals might falter under the pressure of being chased by a phenom, but this rock has never shown signs of cracking.

Number 11: Logan Gilbert

The man they call Walter. The overlooked ace in a trio of studs. The tinkerer. The imposing size of the big unit and the intensity to match it. He’s gotta be flabbergasted to find himself a middle-of-the-rotation guy going into 2024. A highly cerebral guy, Logan has done everything a starter can to earn Ace status outside of crazy strikeout numbers. He’ll need that mental acumen to stay level-headed being overlooked all season long.

This ranking has got to help out the mentals though. If you remove Cole from the rankings due to his recent injury, Gilbert cracks the top 10. In all of baseball. All of it. This might be premature but if Seattle makes the playoffs this season I’m not sure anybody is going to breathe a sigh of relief come game 3 when the lanky right-hander digs his toe hold next to the rubber. Look for Logan to be a supreme matchup nightmare against the other team’s third starters this year. Only the Dodgers and Braves boast a third starter ranked in the top 30, both of which wouldn’t face Seattle until the World Series as they both live in the NL.

Bryan Woo/Bryce Miller: Numbers 41 & 42

The placement of the two young fireballers one after the other seems to indicate that these guys are viewed very similarly nationally. They both had immense success in their debut seasons and surprised just about everyone, especially the hitters they faced. Both have worked on secondary pitches and consistency in the off-season. Bryan Woo is sitting ahead of Bryce Miller in the STUFF+ ratings, but Miller is ahead of him in the Mariners rotation, at least for now.

The biggest question marks about them are also the same. Can they stay healthy through a full MLB season and get through lineups three or more times deep into August and September? I've clumped these two together in this article but I imagine one of them will distance himself from the other fairly soon. Whether that be from a durability standpoint or just the best hitters in the world figuring them out, I can’t imagine they both keep rolling along. If they do it’s going to be video game unfair status for Mariner pitching in 2024.

Lots of love and GO Mariners!