June will be a telling month for the Mariners. They have been hovering around .500 for a while now and sit 5.5 games out of first place. It’s hard to deny that the Oakland A’s are the best team in the division but there is always a chance one of the other teams in the AL West, maybe not the Astros, will dethrone them as division champions. What happens in the next month will help determine who will be challengers to the title.
Depending not just on how well the Mariners do, but also how well the rest of the division does will determine their position. Even if the team begins to struggle, the other teams struggling as well and leaving the door open, the Mariners could consider themselves buyers come the trade deadline.
That is not something the Mariners should count on though. We all know the A’s are a good team and the Angels have been on tear recently. The Mariners should not expect to be handed an easy route to a playoff spot as if they were playing in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, and this goes beyond the division rivals. Even with two wildcard spots available the competition will be stiff.
Making the playoffs should not be the only standard for what is a successful season. Of course, they threw a lot of money around this winter. But this team was 71-91 last year, not anywhere near a borderline playoff team. Winning closer to 80 games would be a step in the right direction. Continuing to hover around .500 would be a nice improvement from last year.
Having young pitching return to the field should be a major concern for them as well. The season would be successful if they can get James Paxton and Taijuan Walker to return from injury without anymore setbacks and perform well. If they are able to do this perhaps the team will be ready to make a run this year.
Even if the Mariners do not make a run this season, which isn’t out of the question, they can lay the ground work for next season. Having Paxton and Walker grow as players will be key for that. Then making the proper moves will make them serious contenders. Remember, while they have Robinson Cano for the next 10 years, he is on the back end of his prime years. They need to strike soon to get full value out of his contract.