The Mariners have four games left in the season, and you could argue that if they don't win out, they are going to miss the playoffs. It's a crappy place to be, but we have to try and find the silver lining to it... even if there isn't much of one left. Here's what I wanted to do before we get into the final series of the season, which happens to be four games against the division leading Texas Rangers.
The Mariners could still win the AL West!
Yeah, I didn't believe that either until I saw the scenario this morning. With the doom and gloom of the Mariners recent struggles, I thought it would be a fun little thing to go through and check out to see how the Mariners could still end up with that coveted first-round bye. Let's get to it. OH! I know you are going to ask about the Twins. The Mariners have the season lead at four games to three, so they hold that tiebreaker over them.
Mariners AL West Title Need Number One: Sweep the Rangers
Look, without this, it can't happen. The Mariners are four games back of the Rangers, and need a sweep to finish with the same record as them. They would both be 89-73. If, like me, you are saying "Yeah, that's cool, but the Rangers still have the tiebreaker", well, you would be completely correct. That's where the next part of this comes in.
Mariners AL West Title Need Number Two: The Astros win two and lose one
If the Astros win the series against the Diamondbacks, but don't sweep it, then they will also end up at 89-73. This would put the three AL West teams all at 89-73, sitting in a three-way tie for the division. Here, here is where things start to get interesting.
The Rangers have the season series lead against the Mariners. The Mariners have the lead against the Astros, and the Astros have the lead against the Rangers. Hence, the three way tie.
How insane would it be, after all this time, that it comes down to a three way tie? Guess what the next scenario is for determining the tiebreaker? It's best combined win percentage total against those two other teams. Are you ready to here who that tiebreaker would go to?
THE MARINERS WOULD WIN THE AL WEST!
The trickle down here, if the Blue Jays also end up at 89-73, is that the Astros would get the second Wild Card spot, and the Rangers would get the third, leaving Toronto at home for the playoffs. If Toronto ends up at 90-72 in this scenario, they get the second spot and Houston gets the final one, leaving the Rangers at home.
Let's keep it going with the rest of the tiebreaker information. If Houston wins the division and everyone else is 89-73, the Mariners and Rangers would be in, and Toronto goes home. If the Rangers win the division, and everyone else is 88-74 or possibly 87-75, the Mariners and Blue Jays would be in and the Astros would go home. If it's just Seattle and Toronto, the Jays go home. If it's just Texas and Seattle, though, the Mariners would go home.
Have you noticed the common theme in there? As long as that last scenario doesn't happen, the Mariners just need to be tied with someone to make the playoffs. It is a bit crazy that they could sweep the Rangers, and either win the division and get a bye through the WC games, or win the division and still not make the playoffs (if Houston and Toronto both end up with 90 wins).
It's bonkers. It's wild. It's a lot of fun to think about... and it's insanely stressful. The Mariners still have a chance, but they are going to need some other things to fall into place as well. It all comes back to the same main point though.
The Mariners need to take care of the Texas Rangers, or else they are likely staying home in October.