The Seattle Mariners have been on a tear this MLB season and have proved that they are here to compete. They shut down the idea that their last season was a fluke as they are playing amazing baseball. With less than three weeks left in the 2022 MLB season the Mariners have a good chance of making the playoffs. It’s been 21 years since the Mariners have been back in the October playoffs. Is it finally the year for the Mariners?
A few factors explained in this article include pitching, being clutch, the schedule for the rest of the season and the wild card situation give insight into why the wait is over. With these factors, the Mariners can almost taste the sweet victory of making the playoffs.
Growth in Pitching
There is no argument that the Mariners are in the position they are without their pitching staff. The emergence and growth seen by second-year veteran Logan Gilbert and rookie George Kirby have been tremendous. Gilbert is posting a solid record and earned run average (ERA) of 12-5 with a 3.24 ERA. Not to mention he recorded zero earned runs, one walk, and 18 strikeouts in his last two starts. Kirby, who debuted in May, was phenomenall in August winning AL Rookie of the Month. At the end of July, he posted a 3.56 ERA and ended August with a 3.16 ERA. In five starts in August, the rookie right-hander won four games and posted a 2.15 ERA in 29 1/3 innings, striking out 34 batters and walking just three.
Another important aspect of the growth of the Mariners pitching seen in 2022 is the acquisition of Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds. The Mariners acquired Castillo in a trade at the end of July right before the trade deadline. The Mariners had to give up some of their top prospects in order to acquire Castillo, but it was worth it. In his six games with the Mariners, Castillo is posting an excellent ERA of 2.39 ERA averaging a little over seven strikeouts per game as well. He has provided Mariners a strong arm to help them succeed for the rest of the reason.
Don’t forget about the Bullpen
The Mariners bullpen led by Paul Sewald, Diego Castillo, Matt Brash, Andres Munoz, and others holds the third-fewest walks and third fewest hits in the MLB at 150 walks and 346 hits as of September 7th. They also excel in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitch) which calculates the number of base runners a pitcher gives per inning pitched. The Mariners bullpen hold the second lowest in the league at 1.09. The Mariners pitching this year has been phenomenal and should not be overlooked.
When it comes to close games, the Mariners bring a different energy and flip a switch. This season, the Mariners are 28-18 in one-run games. They are the best in the league in this category as of September 7th. When it comes down to crunch time the Mariners bring out the dogs in them and fight. As mentioned above, the Mariners’ bullpen has one of the lowest WHIP in baseball, this means that they are solid at getting guys to strike out or make them put the ball in play. In other words, fewer guys on base equal more wins.
Rest of Season Schedule
The Mariners have played a lot of tough opponents this past season including Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, and AL West division rival Houston Astros. Those games are all in the past and it’s going to be an easy schedule for the rest of the season. A few of the teams the Mariners face for the rest of the season include Oakland Athletics, Los Angels Angels, Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. What do these teams all have in common, they hold a record that is below .500. The MLB was generous to give the Mariners a September schedule where the Mariners will be facing teams that are below average and the bottom half of the league giving them an increase of winning more games.
Three Wild Card Team Playoffs
The MLB installed a new playoff system this year with three wild card teams instead previously having two teams. This gives the Mariners an extra spot and higher odds to make the playoffs.
AL East Battle for the Wild Card
As of September 7th, three out of the top four teams in the Wild Card standings are from the AL East. If this stays the stays consistent, this improves the Mariners chances at making the playoffs. The MLB schedule is set up where teams play against from their division. In other words, meaning that The AL East teams will be fighting each other for a wild card which means that they will bounce each other out of the AL Wild card standings. All the Mariners have to is keep on playing great baseball.
The Mariners season is coming down the stretch and they are looking like a playoff team soon to be. As of September 7th, fangraphs.com gives the Mariners a 99.2% chance of making the playoffs. And most up the time, numbers don’t lie. If the Seattle Mariners stay consistent for the reason they will finally get the sweet taste of October playoff baseball.