Who to root for?
Guess who's been a big part of Milwaukee's stretch run?
September 29, 2020
The postseason has begun and the Mariners are once again nowhere to be seen. What's a Seattle baseball fan to do? In this wacky year of expanded playoffs, most us will pick a team (or a succession of them) to ride with through the World Series and make the best of it. But whom to choose...?
If you have no other loyalties, maybe this will help make up your mind. While the M's are out of the running, plenty of former M's are playing on. Let's take a look at the familiar faces in the playoffs, by league and by team seeding.
Tampa Bay Rays (1)
The Rays have been one of Seattle's favorite trading partners in recent years, so you might think there'd be a lot of ex-Mariners in their fold. But there's just one, catcher Mike Zunino, who has been a bench player for the most part this season. Z has performed pretty much the same in Tampa Bay as he did in Seattle (2013-2018): batting about .150 and striking out a ton.
Minnesota Twins (2)
Minnesota has a fan favorite ex-Mariner in DH Nelson Cruz (2015-2018). Nellie had a fantastic season, batting .303/.397/.595 with 16 home runs. The Twins also have pitcher Michael Pineda (2011), 2-0 in five 2020 starts and much less of a favorite.
Oakland Athletics (0)
The A's don't have any former Mariner players, but they are still led by manager Bob Melvin, who was the Seattle skipper from 2003-2004. What might have been if the M's had kept Bob Melvin on, eh? Since getting fired by the Mariners, Melvin's teams have made seven postseasons if you count the Wild Card game, five if you don't; the M's, of course, have made zero.
Chicago White Sox (4)
There are four Mariner alumni among the southsiders, but all were short-timers here. Outfielder Jarrod Dyson called Seattle home in 2017, closer Alex Colomé was here for about two-thirds of 2018, reliever Evan Marshall appeared in six games for the M's in 2017, and we remember DH Edwin Encarnación from the first half of last season. Colomé was outstanding in 2020, 2-0 with 12 saves and an 0.81 ERA; Encarnación hit 10 homers but only batted .157.
New York Yankees (1)
James Paxton is injured, so the only former M present with the Bronx Bombers right now is pitcher J.A. Happ, who started the 2015 season with Seattle and ended it with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Houston Astros (0)
Houston has no former Mariners, for which we can all be grateful.
Cleveland Indians (0)
No ex-Mariners among the Clevelanders unless you count first baseman Carlos Santana, who was a Mariner for a couple of weeks during the 2018-2019 offseason, acquired in a trade with the Phillies and then spun off in another trade with the Indians.
Toronto Blue Jays (1)
One of the most recent of former Mariners in the playoffs, pitcher Taijuan Walker was dealt to the Jays just a month ago. Tai has been great with the Blue Jays, going 2-1 in six starts and posting a 1.37 ERA.
Los Angeles Dodgers (1)
Though the National League teams have not yet announces their Wild Card series rosters, we can make educated guesses, and for LA that means Chris Taylor. Taylor came off the Seattle bench in 2014-2016 before being dealt to the Dodgers for a couple of resin bags; with Los Angeles he's been a key player, getting on base at a .340 clip since the trade including a .366 OBP this season, playing all over the diamond.
Atlanta Braves (0)
The Braves have pitcher Tommy Milone among their 40-man complement, but he'll likely be left off the playoff roster.
Chicago Cubs (1)
Briefly a Mariner (2018), outfielder Cameron Maybin was a trade-deadline addition to the Cubs this season. He doesn't figure to play a huge role in the playoffs, but one never knows.
San Diego Padres (4)
Thanks to last month's big trade between the M's and Pads, there are four recent Mariners to see here. Austin Nola has underperformed with San Diego so far (.222/.324/.381), but it's a small sample size; reliever Dan Altavilla has overperformed (1-1, 3.12 ERA), but only 82⁄3 innings; and reliever Austin Adams came back from injury after the deal and threw just four innings for San Diego, allowing two runs. There's also relief pitcher Emilio Pagán, who was a Mariner in 2017.
Miami Marlins (1)
The Fish have reliever Nick Vincent, a three-year Mariner (2016-2018) who turned in a passable season with Miami this season (1-2, 4.43 ERA, 221⁄3 innings).
Cincinnati Reds (1)
Starting pitcher Wade Miley is the sole ex-M on the Reds. The lefty pitched for Seattle for part of 2016 before being traded to Baltimore. This year as a Red, Miley was less than good, going 0-3 with a 5.65 ERA in four starts.
St. Louis Cardinals (1)
He wasn't much of a hitter here, but Brad Miller (2013-2015) posted an on-base mark of .357 with St. Louis in 2020. His batting average was only .232, but 25 walks and 16 extra-base hits boost his value to the Cards. The Cardinals also have outfielder Tyler O'Neill, who was never a Mariner per se, but was a top Seattle farmhand when he was traded to St. Louis for Marco Gonzales.
Milwaukee Brewers (2)
Outfielder Ben Gamel (2016-2018) remains a Brewer, though his season was less than spectacular; with a line of just .237/.315/.404 he's been playing sparingly as the season wrapped up. On the flip side, Milwaukee picked up ex-Mariner Daniel Vogelbach after he was DFA'd for the second time this season and he's been on fire. With the Brew Crew, Vogey was 19-for-58, giving him a batting line of .328/.418/.569, playing both first base and DH.
Go, I don't know, Blue Jays, I guess? Padres? Definitely rooting for Vogey, but not so much the Brewers.
Your mileage may vary.