Can’t Get Over The Hump


Image result for safeco fieldThe 2001 Major League Baseball season saw the Seattle Mariners win 116 games which tied the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most wins in a single-season. Those Cubs would go on to lose the World Series, while the 2001 Mariners would come up short in the American League Championship Series versus the New York Yankees. But little did we know that after the Mariners exited the postseason stage in 2002 what would ensue for their franchise.

Since then the M’s have been unable to reach the postseason. And after the Toronto Blue Jays won the American League East in 2015, the Mariners have now been on the clock for the longest current playoff drought in Major League Baseball. But the Mariners have not been wearing this banner without trying as they’ve just run into some extreme hard luck.

In 2002, Seattle would win 93 games, but they would miss out on a wild card berth by six games to the Los Angeles Angels. In 2003, the M’s would once again win 93 games, but they would once again miss out on the wild card berth in the American League; this time by just two games to the Boston Red Sox. And even after Major League Baseball expanded the playoffs in 2012 to include two wild card slots in each league, the Mariners have been unable to cash in.

In 2014, the M’s would win 87 games, but fall one win short of the playoffs, while it was three games in 2016. And even as the Mariners have never been under .500 this season which included being 55-31 on July 3, they are no closer to making the playoffs this year than they were in 2002.

With a record of 85-71, the Mariners appear destined to win 90 games for the first time since 2003, but it will not be good enough for them to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for Seattle, they call the American League West home which is a division that includes the defending World Series Champions in the Houston Astros and the upstart Athletics.

The Astros were once again expected to be a contender this year and they have not disappointed which is evident by their 100-57 mark which is tops in the division. But the real surprise are the Athletics who after three consecutive last place finishes in the American League West have been the feel good story in Major League Baseball this year as their 95-62 record has them in possession of the final wild card spot in the A.L. And with the strong play of the Yankees and Red Sox in the A.L. East, the Mariners were up a creek in regards to making the playoffs this year in spite of the fact that they’ll more than likely finish with a better record than the Cleveland Indians who have already clinched the A.L. Central Title.

Image result for 2018 seattle marinersThe Mariners have simply been caught up in the wash of what has been a very tough season due to so many competitive teams at the top of the American League. Seattle has scrapped and clawed with the Astros and A’s, but the fact that each of these teams have been so good has left little room for failure for the M’s. And when the Mariners lost three out of four games over the last few weeks to the lowly San Diego Padres, it all but sealed their fate.

The upcoming off-season will be an important one for the Mariners as they must buck their recent pattern of following up a winning season with a losing campaign. For Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, he must upgrade the team’s starting pitching staff. The Mariners team earned run average of 4.13 is seventh in the American League, while their 74 quality starts are eighth. But it is quite clear that Seattle is lacking a frontline starter as no Mariners pitcher will win 15 games this year. At the age of 32, starting pitcher Felix Hernandez is beginning to break down as he no longer has the arm velocity which resulted in him winning the A.L. Cy Young Award in 2010. And for Hernandez to still be effective, he must learn how to locate his pitches.

Seattle’s bullpen has an anchor as relief pitcher Edwin Diaz has been lights out this year. Diaz is currently sitting on 56 saves which is the third most in a single-season in MLB history. It has been difficult for relievers to follow up these stellar seasons with another strong campaign, but Diaz is only 24-years of age as his future in MLB looks bright.

The Mariners must also decide if they plan to retain the services of designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Cruz is set to become a free agent at season’s end, and in his four years with the M’s, he had become one of the most prolific power hitters in the franchise’s history as only five players who’ve worn the Mariners uniform have hit more homes than him. But Cruz is 37-years of age, and it will be interesting to see if Seattle wants him back as well as whether or not that he wants to be there.

The Mariners got more than they bargained for this year when second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended by Major League Baseball for 80 games as the result of a failed drug test, but even at the age of 35, he still has one of the sweetest strokes at the plate in the game.

For Dipoto and Mariners manager Scott Servais, their team is close to breaking through and they have to find a way to use this season as a stepping stone. The Astros don’t appear to slowing down as a competitor in the American League, and the same can be said about the Yankees and Red Sox. But that doesn’t mean that the M’s cannot rub elbows with them and bring some October baseball to Safeco Field sooner rather than later.


By | 2018-09-25T23:33:15+00:00 September 26th, 2018|Categories: Major League Baseball|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

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