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Mariners Game #156 Preview, 9/25/23: HOU at SEA

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There are two players I desperately wanted out of the AL West: one looks ticketed for the NL West (so excited to be able to appreciate Shohei from a distance, finally), and the other was gone for a few short blissful months before returning like a bad penny. It’s probably not entirely Justin Verlander’s fault he’s come to symbolize, for me, the gap between the Astros and Mariners over the past few years, from the savvy trade that brought him there to the Astros’ superior player development (different from personnel development, to be clear) to his supermodel wife pictured beside him lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy, all of it a glamorous dream of dominance and relevance that felt so far away for these Mariners, background players in the Astros’ dominance.