The red-hot Seattle Mariners pay a visit to the South Side of Chicago to take on your White Sox. These surging Mariners have won eight of their last nine series and find themselves right in the thick of the AL Wild Card chase as August draws to a close. After taking three of four in Kansas City and sweeping the weekend three-game set in Houston, the M’s look to stay hot and keep pace with Toronto and Houston in the Wild Card chase.
Full disclosure, I love Seattle, and I love these Mariners. I make no secret of my long-distance love affair with the Pacific Northwest, both in culture and in sports. Griffey and Edgar? Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton? The 90s Supersonics? Hell Yes! Early 90s Seattle bands were the soundtrack of my tumultuous youth, and I have always had a soft spot for all things Seattle. Except for Starbucks, that is, fuck that burnt corporate coffee nonsense! But I digress.
Sox fans of my generation might still hold deep scorn for the Mariners for their unceremonious sweeping of the 2000 White Sox, but there is no ire from me. Despite crushing the Sox team that resuscitated my long-dormant baseball fandom post-strike in 2000, I hold no ill will for those Mariners or the Mariners of today.
The Griffey Jr. M’s were easily the second favorite team of my youth behind the early 90s White Sox, and this season the M’s have re-emerged as my second favorite. Names like Julio Rodríguez, JP Crawford, Eugenio Suárez, Ty France, and Cal Raleigh might not be as famous as past luminaries like Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez (pre-Texas/NYY douchebaggery, of course), Edgar Martínez, Randy Johnson, Ichiro Suzuki, and Félix Hernández. Some all-time greats have worn the Mariners navy and teal. It’s a shame they’ve never won anything, and only just last season broke a 21-year playoff drought, the longest active in North American sports at the time. Not that Sox fans know anything about lengthy playoff absences …
What Have the Mariners Been Up To?
Seattle got off to a slow start in 2023 after being the darlings of the 2022 season. They were quite the streaky team in the first half as well. After winning Opening Day at home vs. Cleveland, they lost the next four to fall to 1-4. April alone had losing streaks of three and four sandwiched around a four-game win streak, including sweeping the Rockies and being swept by the Brewers. They closed April with another four-game losing streak, followed by a four-game win streak to open May. A three-game losing streak followed by a four-game winning streak entering Memorial Day weekend. A three-game losing streak to open and close June, and you guessed it, a four-game win streak to open July. They closed the first half winning seven of ten to enter the All-Star break at 45-44. Then, of course, they dropped two of three to Detroit. Are we seeing the trend?
The odd season of streaks continued despite coming out of the All-Star break red-hot, with a pair of three-game win streaks in July. The M’s started August on an eight-game win streak before dropping two heartbreakers at home against the Orioles and the series opener in Kansas City. They come to Chicago having won six straight and 16 of their last 20 games. Seattle has been one of the better teams post-All-Star Break, going 24-10 in the second half to this point, jumping from 45-45 to a cool 14 games over .500 at 69-55 entering play today.
The Pale Hose last faced Seattle in mid-June, dropping two of three at T-Mobile Park, with the lone win being an 11-inning affair. Thank you, Ghost Runner! Seattle thoroughly outplayed the White Sox in the three-game set, outscoring the South Siders eleven to seven. It wasn’t pretty.
What Are the Pitching Matchups? How Do We Match Up?
Seattle’s stellar pitching kept them afloat in the first half and has them back in the hunt in the second half. Seattle’s ERA+ of 111 is tied with Houston and Minnesota for third-best in baseball. Their K/9 is top 10, while their FIP and WHIP are both best in the bigs. Their run differential of +72 is 5th best in the AL, and their 506 runs allowed is 4th, two runs better than the Wild Card-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
So what of the pitching matchups in this series? Well, Mariners = good, White Sox = not.
Monday, August 21
Luis Castillo vs. Touki Toussaint
La Piedra makes his first career start at Sox Park and second start against the South Siders as a Mariner. He has a 2.92 ERA, 0.973 WHIP, and 14 strikeouts in two previous starts against the White Sox.
Tuesday, August 22
George Kirby vs. [redacted]
Kirby makes his first career start against the Pale Hose. The 2023 All-Star features a six-pitch mix and sports a 2.5% walk rate, which puts him in the top 1% in baseball.
Wednesday, August 23
Bryce Miller vs. Michael Kopech
Bryce Miller makes his second career start against the Sox. He pitched seven innings of four-hit baseball against the Pale Hole on June 18, giving up one earned run, striking out six with no walks.
Miller also features a six-pitch mix, with a walk rate in the top ten in baseball at 5.2%.
The Mariners have a tall task ahead of them down the stretch if they are to secure a Wild Card spot. Our Sox might not offer much resistance, but the last three weeks of September will be a gauntlet. The M’s finish with three at Texas, three in Seattle against Houston, and four in Seattle against Texas. I know who I will be rooting for.
When the local team is the White Sox, and they are dead in the water and going nowhere fast in 2023, and everything about them is a lifeless miserable slog, one needs a fun baseball escape. These Mariners are my fun baseball escape. And frankly, life is short, and so are summers in Chicago. Watch fun baseball, damn it, and enjoy what you love!