Mariners Could Target This Starting Pitcher at the Deadline

The Seattle Mariners are the hottest team in baseball right now. 

The Mariners are sitting in the second AL Wild Card spot at the midway mark of the season, but not comfortably. They are one game up on the Blue Jays, three games up on the Red Sox, and three-and-a-half games up on Cleveland. 

Seattle will almost certainly be buyers at the deadline and one area the team would like to add to is their starting rotation.

A name that the team could target is Merril Kelly of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

The D'backs are currently in last place in the NL West (40-52) so it seems likely that they will be sellers come August 2nd.

Kelly has been a revelation this season, pitching 110 innings thus far, with a solid 3.26 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 89 strikeouts. Although he doesn't record a ton of strikeouts, averaging just 7.3/9 innings, Kelly pitches very well to soft contact. 

Mariners have received solid pitching this season, ranking them fifth in the entire league with a 3.53 team ERA. How much of that success is sustainable though? Their starting rotation currently features, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and George Kirby. 

This is not exactly a World Series caliber rotation, with the only real established ace being Robbie Ray. Sure, Gilbert is a fantastic pitcher and he's been the Mariners' best pitcher so far this year, but you have to wonder if later on in the season he'll have his innings limited. This is just the twenty-five-year-old's second major league season after all. He's up to 111 innings this season, with the most he's pitched being 119 in his rookie season (2021). Obviously, the Mariners may very well not limit him but it is a definite possibility.

Nonetheless, the Mariners' fifth starter is rookie George Kirby. Kirby has been impressive in his first taste of major league baseball, throwing 64 innings, with a 3.78 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He's still a rookie, however, and how much do the Mariners trust him down the stretch? Of course, the innings limit might be a factor for Kirby here as well.

All in all, it wouldn't hurt for the Mariners to target a starting pitcher like Merril Kelly. The Mariners have really struggled with the long-ball this season, ranking fourth in the MLB in total amounts of home runs surrendered this season. This is an added benefit to acquiring Kelly. He's only allowed six home runs this season, coming out to a 0.6 HR/9. That's pretty attractive to the Mariners. The thirty-three-year-old also owns a 3.34 FIP, solidifying his success on the mound this season even more. 

Arizona signed Kelly to a two-year, $18-million deal this offseason, with a team option for 2025. Another attractive bonus for acquiring the pitcher. 

There are plenty of other pitchers on the market the Mariners might be targeting, but Merril Kelly is a very solid option for the club and will come at a much cheaper price than many other starting pitchers out there. 

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