Since their historic 116 win season in 2001, the Seattle Mariners have failed to qualify for the postseason. Having not won a pennant in franchise history it is still safe to say that, even so, the Mariners have had a great deal of success over the years.
Initially this year appeared to be no different. Despite paying for two of the largest contracts in all of baseball, the Mariners appeared to be heading toward mediocrity when their off season spending had clearly indicated a turn in a different direction.
Now with a recent surge, despite being a 3rd place team in the very competitive American League West, the Mariners may be the team to watch out for in a Wild Card game should they qualify.
Even though Seattle stands 7.5 games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the lead in the AL West, any Wild Card team can make noise in the postseason.
The Mariners are currently behind one game to the Detroit Tigers for the second Wild Card spot, meaning that the postseason is far from a certainty in the Emerald City which would make one infer that they probably shouldn’t be able to do much even if they qualify.
Yet in October anything can happen. Especially if you are a team with that dangerous 1-2 punch in their starting rotation, really meaning that there’s two viable options for the one-game playoff if they earn a postseason berth.
With Felix Hernandez, arguably the best starting pitcher in the MLB, and Hisashi Iwakuma, a Cy Young Award finalist in 2013, fronting their rotation the Mariners have a complete pitching staff that may be very tough to compete with.
Despite being a third place team the Mariners hold a great deal with offensive balance led by the pricey off season acquisition Robinson Cano. Cano has posted a .329 batting average in 129 games.
Cano’s great play this year hasn’t consistently spread throughout the rest of the clubhouse, which in turn has made the Mariners’ hitting quite inconsistent. Yet hitting may not be the difference should they make the playoffs.
The Mariners’ impeccable 2.93 team ERA, which leads the MLB, is a testament to how hard it is to hit the Mariners, even outside of their powerful starting rotation.
If the Mariners do qualify for the postseason, it is very likely that they’d play a team within their own division. Whether it’s Oakland or Los Angeles that gets stuck with the Wild Card spot, both of the aforementioned teams hitting is inconsistent enough to where a date with King Felix would spell trouble.
With the current Wild Card system, all it takes is one game to spark hope and get a team a full series in the postseason. It would be very difficult to beat the Mariners three or four times in a postseason series with one of the best starting rotations in recent memory.
It seems unlikely and in Seattle it looks like a dream. This dream, however, is not out of reach.