3 keys to the Mariners winning the division

The Mariners are fighting for a playoff spot, but as they start to separate themselves from the Blue Jays, what do they need to do to fight their way into a division title. They will have plenty of chances these last few weeks, so let's look at what needs to happen.
Kansas City Royals v Seattle Mariners
Kansas City Royals v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages
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As the Mariners take on the Dodgers in what will be a dog fight of a series, we look ahead to what needs to change in order for the Mariners to claw their way back into contention for the divison. After wrapping up this 3 game series, they will face the Athletics for 3, Texas for 3, Houston for 3 and end the season witih 4 against the Texas Rangers. There are plenty of chances for the Mariners to give the Astros and Rangers a run for their money for the division title, something the Mariners haven't been able to claim in over 20 years.

The pitching needs to return to form

The backbone of this Mariners team is the pitching staff, there has never been any doubts about where the strength of this teams lies. The pitching staff was a big factor in taking this team from very mid to one of the elite teams in the AL. When you look at the numbers from July and and August the pitching staff was as dominant as it gets. A 3.35 ERA in July with a 2.41 BB/9 led the Mariners to a 17-9 record as opponents slugged just .389 against Mariner's pitching. They continued their dominance into August with a 3.03 ERA and a miniscule 1.83 BB/9 to a club record 21 wins, with opponents slugging .375. As the pitching goes, so go the Mariners. A 4.47 ERA, nearly double August walk rate at 3.28 BB/9 and opponents slugging .469 has led to the Mariners' to a 5-8 record.

It has been obvious that Mariners pitching has struggled this month with some, like George Kirby, voicing frustration about their performance. This is where the biggest improvement needs to happen if the Mariners are going to make a run for the divison title or a playoff run, for that matter. Castillo, Kirby and to a lesser degree Logan Gilbert need to get back on track and lead this team and give them a chance to win every start from here on out. Woo and Miller need to be solid; they don't need to be elite, but they need to be able to get through at least 5 innings before turning things over to the bullpen and give the Mariners a chance to win a few games.