Mariners vs Royals: Running out of room for mistakes

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 15: Ty France #23 of the Seattle Mariners throws his bat after striking out while swinging to end the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at T-Mobile Park on September 15, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 15: Ty France #23 of the Seattle Mariners throws his bat after striking out while swinging to end the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at T-Mobile Park on September 15, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Mariners are set to start a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals, and many fans are still having nightmares about the last series. I warn you, you may not want to click here if you feel like sleeping well tonight.

At 78-68, the Mariners are still well past what the majority of fans thought they would be, record-wise, at this point in the season. That doesn’t mean that a lot of us still aren’t feeling some measure of disappointment after how the last three series have gone.

There is no more room for mistakes for the Seattle Mariners

It was going to be a tough ask to get through August and September with no mistakes. Sure, the team could lose games, that’s not what I mean. What I am talking about is the series losses to teams that the Mariners should have defeated. Those are the ones that couldn’t occur if they were going to be in the thick of things with two weeks left.

3-1 against the Royals, and going 2-1 against the D-Backs would’ve put them just a game out in the race, and I’m not going to go any further than that. A series win against the Sox would’ve been good, and possibly could’ve happened due to their lack of depth from all their positive tests and tracing quarantines.

Yet, here the Mariners are four games out and playing three games against the team that could be the reason that they miss out on the playoffs. Again, if you wanna sleep well, don’t click that link up above. He’s the sole reason. Alright. On to the series preview.

Mariners vs Royals: Who’s starting on the mound

Friday @ 5:10 PM: Chris Flexen vs Brady Singer

Saturday @ 4:10 PM: Yusei Kikuchi vs Kris Bubic

Sunday @11:10 AM: Logan Gilbert vs Jackson Kowar

It’s a good thing that the Mariners are throwing Flexen in the first game, as Singer is likely the best of the Royals pitchers that the M’s will be facing in the series. He was in the midst of a nice four-game stretch (24.2 IP, 23 K, 1.46 ERA) before getting shelled vs the Twins in his last outing, giving up six in just 4.2 innings. Let’s hope we see that Singer instead of the one from the four outings prior.

Kris Bubic is having a nice run over his last three outings (12.2 IP, 13K, 3.55 ERA) but the start before that, he gave up five runs in 4.1 innings… against the Mariners. He will go against Kikuchi, who gave up four in five innings when he faced KC last. That was the game where he was stellar through five and then gave up 4-5 straight baserunners to start the 6th inning before the Nightmare came to the plate.

In the finale, the Mariners will have a real chance to put up some runs against Kowar. He gave up six in six innings against the Orioles, and in his most recent start was shelled for five runs in just one inning. He’s been walking a lot of batters (15 in 18 IP), so patience will be the word of the day for the Mariners.

Up against him will be Logan Gilbert, who has been having a great September after a really rough finish to the month of August. It’s like we are seeing a completely different pitcher. Check out the splits in his final three starts of August as compared to his first three in September.

  • 12.2 IP, 13K, 19 ER, 5 HR, 13.50 ERA, 6.72 FIP
  • 15.1 IP, 18K, 5 ER, 2 HR, 2.35 ERA, 2.91 FIP

What makes September even more impressive for Gilbert is who he faced. Houston. Houston. Boston. That includes a nine-strikeout outing against Boston in his most recent start that tied his career-high for K’s. With only a few starts left, Gilbert could put an incredible finish together if he can build off that success.

Mariners vs Royals: What to be wary of

With the Mariners four games back in the race, it could be easy to sort of just give up on the season. 16 games remain, and they are going to need an incredible finish to even get close to a berth. It would be different if they were the only ones chasing the two berths. Instead, they have to deal with four teams in total that are vying for the two spots. It’s why M’s fans should be rooting for the Yankees. Ick.

When it comes to members of the Royals, we all know the main person to watch out for. I’ve made it this far without mentioning him, and don’t plan on starting now. I’m ok with giving him the He Who Must Not Be Named treatment.

Outside of him, Andrew Benintendi has been crushing it for the Royals this month. He’s hitting .400 with 19 RBI, proving to be a real threat whenever he steps to the plate. The other hitter to watch out for is Nicky Lopez. Through 63 AB, he’s hitting .349 with 14 runs scored.

If Adalberto Mondesi gets on base, watch out. He is 8-8 on SB attempts this month. It might be tough for him to get on base with a line of .186/.239, but you know he’s gonna go if he gets on. With just six singles and two walks, he’s pretty much a guarantee to steal. Gilbert is the one to watch there, as runners are 7-7 against him. Flexen has three pickoffs with runners going 4-5, and Kikuchi has one pickoff with runners only going 2-5.

The Mariners need to win this series to stay in it. That might not even be enough at four games out. A 12-4 finish gets them to 90-72. The wins need to pile up, and the Mariners cannot afford any more mistakes to finish out the season.