The Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001. Thanks to the 2015 Blue Jays, their October drought is currently longest among the 30 teams. Something looks different about this Mariner team. They’re winning one-run games, their offense is strong, and they have a promising closer.
Let’s talk a little about the last time the Mariners made the postseason. It was 2001, and their closer was Kazuhiro Sasaki. In his first three MLB seasons, he racked up 119 total saves for the Mariners and was a part of their playoff teams in 2000 and 2001.
Unfortunately, Sasaki put an exclamation on the 2001 playoff collapse by allowing a walk-off homer to Alfonso Soriano. With that, the Yanks took a 3-1 series lead and eliminated the Mariners one game later. Goodbye season and goodbye postseason for another…Well, we’re still waiting.
Sasaki pitched two more seasons before retiring from the MLB. His four total seasons as Mariners closer has not been surpassed since. Eddie Guardado, J.J Putz, Brandon Morrow (briefly), David Aardsma, Brandon League, Tom Wilhelmsen, Fernando Rodney, Carson Smith, Steve Cishek, and finally Edwin Diaz.
In 2006, Everyday Eddie became Every Month Eddie. And Rodney? Let’s just say that most of Fernando’s 48 saves in 2014 involved two or more baserunners. Instead of shooting an arrow into the sky, Fernando should have shot an apology arrow to the M’s faithful. Putz appeared to be the closer of the future after a 40-save, All-Star campaign in 2007. Unfortunately, Putz was not the same in ’08 and became a Met the next season.
What about Edwin Diaz? No one can look into the future and see how he’ll fare. If you count his 2016 June debut as a half-season, that would make the end of this season two-and-a-half as Mariners closer. Only one-and-a-half to tie up Sasaki, Edwin!
Edwin Diaz has blown three saves this year. Yet once again, no closer is perfect. His clean save last night showed what he’s capable of. And if he can continue to deal high-90’s heat along with his wicked slider, he will be the closer of the future.