Although the odds don’t favor the Seattle Mariners, the team remains in the AL Wild Card race with about three weeks left in the regular season. Perhaps it’s a bit premature to have this conversation. But I thought it’d be fun to discuss the players on Seattle’s current roster, who’ve previously competed in the playoffs.
So, how many Mariners actually have postseason experience?
The answer is not many. Just six Mariners know what’s it like to appear in a playoff game. Nearly all are pitchers; only one was on the club’s roster at the beginning of the season.
Seattle’s Opening Day starter made six postseason relief appearances as a rookie for the Cardinals in 2014. Gonzales initially blanked the Dodgers in three games during the NLDS and did the same in his first two confrontations with the Giants in the NLCS. Unfortunately, San Francisco plated three runs off the Gonzaga product in Game 4.
If the Mariners somehow pull off the unexpected this year, Gonzales would be a prime candidate along with Chris Flexen to start the AL Wild Card game or Game 1 of an ALDS series.
Anderson allowed two runs during an inning of relief for the Rockies in the 2017 NL Wild Card game against Arizona. A year later, he enjoyed a much better showing in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Brewers. The former Oregon Duck surrendered just one run in a six-inning effort, although the Brew Crew ultimately prevailed with a 4-0 victory over Colorado.
Based on Anderson’s superb performance since joining the Mariners in late-July, he’s already cemented a postseason rotation spot for Seattle manager Scott Servais.
The lone position player on our list was on the Astros’ postseason roster last year. That said, Toro had just one plate appearance in the ALCS against the Rays. The Canadian drew a walk as a pinch hitter for catcher Martin Maldonado.
Since the Mariners acquired Toro from the Astros on July 27, he’s been the team’s everyday second baseman and delivered at the plate. The switch-hitter would be a core contributor in Servais’ postseason lineups.
It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that the oldest player on the Mariners’ roster boasts a well-rounded postseason résumé. Since 2013, Smith has appeared in 18 playoff games with the Indians, Angels, and Astros. Overall, the 37-year-old has performed well with a 0.786 WHIP in 14 innings.
Although the side-arming Smith wouldn’t be a late-inning option for the Mariners, he projects to be a valuable member of any potential Seattle postseason bullpen.
After pitching for the Rays in the 2019 and 2020 postseasons, including last year’s World Series, Castillo is a proven commodity in high-leverage situations. The native of the Dominican Republic has allowed a total of three runs in 14 playoff appearances.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Castillo would be a top option for Servais in late-inning situations.
Doolittle has made 20 playoff appearances with Oakland and Washington dating back to 2012. His shining moment came in the 2019 Fall Classic when he registered a save and didn’t allow a run in three relief appearances for the World Series champion Nationals against the Astros.
Considering his time with Seattle is a small sample, Doolittle may have to demonstrate he deserves a spot on a postseason roster over the next three weeks. Since joining the team on August 27, opponents are batting .375 against the Virginia alum in five appearances.
Eye On October
If the Mariners happen to dramatically grab a Wild Card berth this year, it’s likely their opponent will possess far more postseason experience than the upstarts from the Pacific Northwest. That said, teams can succeed in October without a playoff-tested roster. The 2014 Royals reached the World Series despite having just four players who had previously appeared in the postseason – Wade Davis, Omar Infante, Jayson Nix, and James Shields.
In the end, what really matters is having a roster with the talent to compete when the lights are brightest in October. Does this description apply to the 2021 Mariners?
We won’t know for a few more weeks. In the interim, I suggest enjoying the ride. Getting to watch the hometown team play relevant baseball games in September is a treat worth savoring. It’s certainly better than the alternative.
My Oh My…
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