With about six weeks left of the Major League Baseball season, the Seattle Mariners find themselves in the middle of a heated, six-team race for two American League Wild Card spots. After a close, 7-6 win by the M’s over the Orioles on Thursday, now they sit nestled in the middle of the pack – 1.5 games out of the final Wild Card position.
Current Standings as of 8/17/17 look like this:
|TEAM||WIN-LOSS||WIN PCT||WC GAMES BACK||STREAK|
ADVANTAGES FOR THE MARINERS
Some minor tweaks to the bullpen in August and the addition of Yonder Alonso at first base have improved a team that has had issues with inconsistency all year. Now’s the time to fix that. Also of note, Eddie Diaz was named AL Relief Pitcher for July and has continued to play well into August (minus the Wednesday snafu against Baltimore).
We all miss Mitch Haniger (at least I do anyway), but Leonys Martin has performed admirably since being recalled after his dismal start in April that led to a long stint in Triple-A Tacoma. With the addition of Alonso at first base, it gives manager Scott Servais some bench flexibility with Danny Valencia moving into more of utility/platoon role more.
SORTING THROUGH THE MURKY WC RACE
The Yankees still have a bunch of games left against Boston – so, whichever team doesn’t win the AL East, I think it is safe to say the loser will secure the first Wild Card spot. So really, five teams are competing for one spot – six if you include Tampa Bay on 2.5 games out, but I had to cut my list of at some point.
I think the Royals are the biggest threat to the Mariners. The Angels are just the team lucky enough to own that spot presently, but give it a week and this list will change drastically. Every team here will be moving up or down till the end of the season, and it’s going to be literally wild…in the Wild Card race. I think the Twins are due for impending nuclear fallout and the Rangers own clubhouse is mad about the Yu Darvish thing, so in all honesty it will come down to two teams:
Kansas City or Seattle. Lock that down. Go Mariners.
PLAYERS ON EACH TEAM WHO CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
I will steer clear of the obvious names – read an article from a much larger sports reporting organization if you want to hear about Mike Trout, James Paxton, Eric Hosmer, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Sano or Aaron Judge.
YANKEES – Did Gregorious. Talk about a guy who had big shoes to fill at short stop. He’s a better clutch hitter than advertised.
ANGELS – Andrelton Simmons. He isn’t slowing down at all as he’s enjoying the best season of his career by far. He and Trout (Crap, I mentioned a star player after all) can keep the Angels right where they are.
ROYALS – Whit Merrifeld. He definitely started the season as a “who is Whit Merrifeldd” guy? Well, he’s been a catalyst at the top of the order for KC and creates some havoc when he gets on base.
TWINS – Jose Berrios. The flame-throwing starter pitcher will need to get wins down the stretch for the Twins to have a chance. He’s already pitched the most innings of his career.
Mariners – Starting pitching behind Paxton. In order to win enough games to climb the ladder in the standings, they need to get consistent starts from one or two more pitchers. Ariel Miranda is struggling of late and Felix Hernandez loves giving up home runs.
Whichever teams come out on top, it will be fun to watch. Scoreboard watching in August is a rarity, but there is a lot at stake with the addition of the second Wild Card slot. I will take the Mariners to figure out their pitch and sneak in, but watch out for the Royals and Angels.
Stay classy, Pacific Northwest!