Oh, how fast things can change in baseball. The Mariners were the darlings of the baseball world throughout July and August, warcking up one of the best runs of the season, and surging from a double-digit defecit in the division to actually leading for a while. They've cooled off a bit, and as they head into the Angels series back in Seattle, they find themselves sitting at 79-64.
How good do they need to play the rest of the season to make the playoffs? Well, I wanted to break it down into a couple of groupings to see. They're 2.5 games back of the Astros in the AL West, and sit a game behind Toronto for the second spot, but currently hold that final WC spot by 0.5 games over the Rangers. Let's check out the first range of wins.
8 or less: This won't cut it and the Mariners would stay home
I don't even really want to think about the Mariners finishing with a stretch of 8-11 or worse, especially after watching them go 3-7 recently. If they finish 11-18, after going 38-15 over July and August, it's going to be a massive gut punch. Munoz is banged up, some of the players have been struggling with health or velo... but Kelenic is back. Maybe he is the push this team needs to make it to the playoffs again and avoid a potentially disastrous September. 87-75 or worse isn't going to cut it.
9-10: That's pushing it, Mariners
If they can stay around .500, they have a chance. Even a 9-10 finish, while it wouldn't be what any of us want, might be enough toi get them into the playoffs. Finishing with 88-89 wins is going to put it right into that window where you are frantically refreshing scores from the other impact games, just hoping and praying to the baseball gods that the Mariners are going to be able to sneak into the playoffs. If 5 of those wins came come against Texas... even better.
11-13: Yeah, the Mariners are going to the playoffs
For the last month or so, I've been projecting the Mariners to get to 90-72, and make it as a WC team. Why? No in-depth reason or sneaky stats that make me think that, I just solely think it would be funny to see the Mariners finish with the exact same record three years in a row. I can't think of the last time that happened, and it doesn't seem like something that would happen very often.
Anyway, if they can get to somewhere between 90-92 wins, they are going to make the playoffs. I think this might be the time to get into it. A big part of that feeling is the fact that they play the Rangers 7 times over this stretch, and that all happens over the last ten games. You play well, and you are getting the WC spot, since the Rangers are the team you are battling for it. Struggle... well, you better hope that you go about 9-3 in those other 12 games.
14+: This will likely... No, it WILL WIN the Mariners the AL West
93-69. This is big for so many reasons, but let's focus on the two that are the biggest. One, it's the flipping divisional title, you dethrone the Astros, and take the crown in the AL West for the first time since 2001. Can you imagine what that would be like... especially if they can dominate the Astros in that last series, and take it to Texas as well?
Secondly, and honestly, this might be the bigger one... you get a first round bye. You don't have to play the wierd play-in series, although it was amazing last year. You get to rest up, set your rotation, and give the youth a break in what has definitely been a taxing year for them. If the Mariners can get their rotation set heading into the playoffs, rested, and the matchups they want, they are going to be a dangerous team.
Now, it's time to play the games. Angels. Dodgers. Athletics. Rangers. Astros. Rangers. 19 games left. Let's see what they can do!