The Seattle Mariners have gone through a long, long decade plus without making the playoffs and this year they have a chance to turn that around. Through Sunday (8/24), the Mariners find themselves with a 1 game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild card spot in the American League.
Under a new manager Lloyd McClendon, superstar Robinson Cano, and CY Young candidate Felix Hernandez, the Mariners have the pieces in place to beat out the Tigers for the last Wild Card spot. To go along with that, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik finally decided to bolster the offense with the additions of Austin Jackson (former Tiger), Chris Denorfia, and the return of Kendrys Morales. It may not have been the impact move like the Tigers getting David Price, but making the moves sent a positive message from the front office to the players and fans saying that they are in it to finally make it to October.
We can’t talk about the Mariners without talking about their pitching staff. They are the backbone of this club. How the pitching goes, the team goes.
Manager Lloyd McClendon has done a fantastic job managing the staff and the numbers truly show that. The Mariners overall ERA is 2.93 and that is why they have the record they do. Their pitching has carried them this season and without the performances they’ve gotten, who knows where this team would be. The bullpen is as good as it gets in baseball and they have been improving as the year has gone on.
Ace Felix Hernandez is having the best year of his career and it is even a historic one. He went 16 straight starts going 7+ IP while giving up 2 ER or less. The last pitcher to do that was Tom Seaver (not bad company). Hisashi Iwakuma could be an ace on most other teams in baseball which makes the Mariners one-two punch in their rotation so formidable and one of the best in baseball. The comeback of big, tall righty Chris Young has really been a treat to watch. Coming off shoulder surgery that kept him out last season, he has been a great addition to the rotation adding a good veteran presence. To go along with those three veterans, rookie lefties Roenis Elias and James Paxton, just off the DL, have gone out and pitched quality innings for the Mariners.
The only issue for this Seattle ball club is their offense. The offense just isn’t as consistent as you would like a playoff contender to be. It has been great of late, but consistency is key.
With Robinson Cano hitting around .330, and with the additions of Denorfia, Jackson and Morales the Mariners should be starting to get more consistent at the plate. Dustin Ackley has been red hot since the All Star break and Kyle Seager has been fantastic backing up Cano and Morales in the middle of the order. If the offense starts to click, this team will be very dangerous.
The city of Seattle is ready for this to happen. After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl (!) the fans believe that this can happen. It doesn’t need to be a deep run, but maybe at least getting a home playoff game and something for the fans to cheer about is what Mariners fans need.
If Seattle can increase their offensive production just by a little bit, the pitching is there to carry them. The Mariners aren’t a team that you would want to face in a one game wild card game with Felix or Iwakuma on the mound. The Mariners seem ready for this to happen. The moves have been made, the fans are ready, and the face of the franchise, Felix Hernandez, is having the best year of his career. It’s not going to be easy, but if the Mariners keep doing what they’re doing, I see no reason why with their pitching, that they shouldn’t be in the playoffs come October.