The Seattle Mariners Path in October: Tank or Charge?

The Seattle Mariners are going to the postseason. I made this declaration the past few weeks, and all they’ve done is beat the defending World Champions, and solidify their stronghold on one of the three wildcard spots.

Heading into today’s final (ten games!) road trip, the Mariners currently sit in the 4th seed, the top wildcard spot. Tied with the Toronto Blue Jays (but ahead by percentage points), and a half-game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, it appears these three teams will be in a fight to the finish for the top wildcard position, and the ability to host the 3-game wildcard series.

While the goal has been to achieve that glory of the 4th seed, and the subsequent home field advantage, should that be the goal going forward? We asked you on Twitter this week, and 300+ people chimed in to respond whether they would be the 6-seed or the 4-seed. Here are the results.

The overwhelming favorite was to fall to the 6th seed for the playoffs. Here’s why you just might be right in hoping that happens.

Why the Mariners may be best suited to be the 6th seed in the playoffs.

While it may seem strange for a team that is in the final days of a 20+ year playoff drought to be more worried about their playoff position than just breaking through, this is no ordinary wildcard team. The Mariners have gone 51-23 since their abysmal 29-39 start, the second-best record in baseball. They have the best rotation and bullpen in the American League, and two sluggers in Geno and Julio Rodriguez that are on fire right now. This is a team that is capable of doing some real damage in October. There’s just one slight problem…those dang Astros.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 14: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros looks on from the dugout while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on September 14, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

As joyous and successful as this season has been, there feels a sense of an unavoidable sad end to the hand of our bitter rivals. This Thanos-like inevitability is only strengthened by the lack of logic by Major League Baseball in their design of the new playoff format.

As it stands, the 4th and 5th seeds will play each other for the right to take on the top seed. The 6th seed will travel to the 3rd seed, the worst of the league’s division winners, for the right to take on the 2nd seed in the league. So even if the 6th seed upsets the 3rd seed, they would still play the 2nd seed instead of the 1st seed. This seems like a major advantage for a team like the New York Yankees, and a major disadvantage for the Houston Astros, and the two best wildcard teams.

It brings about a very tough question. Do you want to get to the dance, or do you want a chance to dance deep into the night? If the Mariners push for the top wildcard spot, yes they will be rewarded with a home series that is sure to be a crazy, and raucous crowd. It’d be one of the coolest moments in the ball club’s history. If they win, they travel to Houston to take on a rested Astros club that has owned you for nearly a decade.

If you choose the path of “resting”, and taking the 6th and final spot, you are likely heading to Cleveland, as they have a 3-game lead in the AL Central division. The Seattle Mariners are better than the Guardians, and have proven that, going 6-1 against them this season. It’d be no guarantee, but the Mariners would be favored to win that series.

Instead of heading to the house of Houston horrors, the M’s would head to New York for an ALDS series against a Yankees team that has fallen off a cliff ever since July. The games have been insane and competitive, with Seattle winning the season series 4-2. It is a fair question to ask, do I want to play an ALDS series against the Yankees or Astros?

Mariners Aces come through vs Yankees

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – AUGUST 09: Luis Castillo #21 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the third inning against the New York Yankees at T-Mobile Park on August 09, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

While I’d bet I’m in the minority here, I want to see this Mariners team have the best chance to get to an ALCS. I believe it is feasible and would be the greatest benefit and learning experience for a young team. That path is through the Central and the Yankees. While it would be exciting to host a wildcard series, I think it’d be even cooler to see T-Mobile Park rocking during an ALDS or even ALCS series.

What about you Mariners fans? Do you want to see the M’s get the 4th seed, or sit on the 6th seed?