Kansas City Royals vs Houston Astros
I could have gone with an obvious one here like the bullpen, or September Kelenic carrying this offense to the playoffs, but sometimes you just need a little help. The Mariners are familiar with the Royals as the Mariners struggled to 4 game series win back in mid-August. It was a very back and forth series of games that the Mariners were very fortunate to come out of with a series win. They are led by one of the best in baseball in Bobby Witt Jr, and veteran catcher Salvador Perez. They have a few good pitchers in Jordan Lyles, Brady Singer and recent call up Cole Ragans, who has been very good since returning to Kansas City.
The Kansas City Royals are a pesky team that possesses a lot of talent and though they have the worst record in baseball, they are not an easy win by any means. So why are the Royals a key to the Mariners winning the AL West? Because of the 15 remaining games for the Astros, 6 will come against the Royals. One can hope that the Astros overlook the Royals as their first series is followed up with 3 against the Orioles and the 2nd series is followed by a road trip to Seattle. Now I dont expect the Royals to go 5-1 against the Astros or even 4-2. But if they can avoid being swept in either series or if they really wanted to help the Mariners and go 3-3 against the Astros, that would help the Mariners out a great deal.
This might be asking a lot, but this Royals team is very capable of taking 2 or 3 games and helping the Mariners out. If the Mariners can get their pitching to return to July and August form, while getting at least solidi production out of their corner spots and maybe get a little help from the Royals, they very well could play their way into hanging up a division title banner for the first time in over 20 years. As always, Go M's! Also, Go Royals!