3 Spots, 4 Teams, A Division Title Up For Grabs – It All Comes Down To 10 Games For The Seattle Mariners

When pro sports leagues make their schedules, they can only hope that the games they line up in the offseason will still prove to be interesting in the final weeks of the season. 

This year, the schedule gods have answered the prayers of Major League Baseball.

Following a three-game sweep of Oakland by the Seattle Mariners earlier this week, the Mariners, Texas Rangers, and Houston Astros enter the final ten games of the season with .5 games of each other in the American League West Standings. Over those last ten games, the Mariners play all of them against the Rangers or Astros, firmly holding their playoff destiny in their hands. In the best-case scenario, all three teams are fighting for playoff positioning in three playoff spots. In the worst-case scenario, the Toronto Blue Jays hop over one of them, becoming a four-way battle for three spots. 

Of those four teams, the Mariners have the toughest remaining schedule but also the clearest path to the playoffs: Win, and they’re in. 

Here are the remaining games for all four teams:

Seattle: Three games at Texas, three games at home against Houston, four games at home against Texas

Houston: Three games at home against Kansas City, three games at Seattle, four games at Arizona

Texas: Three games at home against Seattle, three games at Los Angeles Angels, Four games at Seattle

Toronto: Three games at Tampa Bay, three games at home against the New York Yankees, three games at home against Tampa Bay

Given multiple opportunities to do so, none of the teams have been able to separate themselves from the pack. While the Mariners were being swept by the Dodgers last week, the Rangers and Astros lost two of their three games. While the Mariners were sweeping the Athletics this week, the Rangers and Astros again lost two of their three games, leaving them in a jumbled heap for the season’s final stretch.

After a ridiculously hot August, the Mariners have fallen back to earth for most of September, seeing what was a two-game lead in the division at the start of the month evaporate. 

With a needed three-game sweep of the A’s now in their rear-view mirror, the Mariners desperately need to get back to the team they were in August if they are going to make the playoffs.

That means a bullpen that began showing cracks in September returns to its shutdown self. Thankfully, most of that unit is going into the final ten days with essentially two full days off after Luis Castillo pitched seven innings against the A’s on Wednesday. The bullpen will need to hold up its end of things, particularly since two of the Mariners’ starting pitchers – Bryan Woo and Bryce Miller – are rookies who are going well past their previous innings limits the further the team gets into the season. The team should count itself lucky if either of those pair manages more than four innings a start to close the season, and the bullpen will be needed to pick up the slack.

On offense, the Mariners must be better at pushing runs across with runners on base. They had numerous opportunities to win a pair of games against the Dodgers but couldn’t get a needed run across when it counted. They left runners stranded multiple times across the series, and while the same trend didn’t come back to bite them against the A’s, the Rangers and the Astros don’t figure to be as accommodating to them to still win as the last-place A’s. 

Thanks to the fact that they play the Rangers seven times in the final ten games, the Mariners don’t have to win all of their last ten games or rely on help from other teams. Going 8-2 or 7-3 over the next ten games should be enough to get them into the playoffs. What spot it would get them into remains to be seen, likely depending on whether these two or three losses all are at the hands of the Astros or not. 

If the Mariners can avenge a butt-kicking that the Rangers delivered to them back in June when they outscored them 28-9 in a three-game sweep. If the Mariners can get that revenge, they should be on track to make the playoffs. The Mariners have the tools to get there, with one of the best pitching rotations in the game, a bullpen that can also be lights out if it can regain its footing, and an offense that can certainly keep up with the likes of Texas and Houston on paper. However, what is on paper no longer matters. Preseason projections no longer matter. All that matters now is the last ten games and finding a way to win enough of those games to get back to the playoffs. 

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About Ben McCarty 89 Articles
Ben McCarty is a freelance writer and digital media producer who lives in Vancouver. He can usually be found in his backyard with his family, throwing the ball for his dog, or telling incredibly long, convoluted bedtime stories. He enjoys Star Wars, rambling about sports, and whipping up batches of homemade barbeque sauce.