Hello, this is your captain speaking. We have precisely seven games left until landings, and there's probably going to be some turbulence along the way. Please prepare your preferred beverage accordingly, release all your hot takes into the internet-sphere, and buckle you seatbelts; we've got one more week of baseball coming at you.
Exactly six months and one day ago, Lookout Landing's King of Raw-Raw [sic] published what could happen if it all went right. Now, half a year later, there's still a chance that he was not completely delusional in his hopes, though the remaining margin for error is slim at best. So what exactly needs to happen, to extend the Mariners season just a little bit longer?
The biggest problem right now is the offense, which needs to, how do I put this delicately, get their shit together. Nelson Cruz is great, but not even he is strong enough to carry 34 other men on his back. After Cruz, small samples sizes be damned, Jesús Sucre has the highest fWAR of any player on the Mariners for the month of September. And Sucre, many blessings be upon his cherubic cheeks, is not going to lead this team to the playoffs. With Cruz back in action, and Robinson Canó slowly waking from his mid-September nap, it’s the final member of the so-called "big three" who most needs to step it up. Kyle Seager has had two hits in his last seven games, a .222/.330/.420 line for September, and a near 20% K-rate; that’s just not going to cut it. His ability to break out of this most recent slump is, arguably, the biggest factor in the Mariners' success this next week.
Beyond Seager, Mike Zunino needs to crawl out of the hole he's been frantically digging for himself. He doesn't need to be the revelation he was when he first returned, but not even his defensive abilities can compensate for a 39.9 K% for the month of September. When your wRC+ is 74, and you're being shown up by Jesus Sucre, something needs to change, and unfortunately there aren't many other viable options for catcher because Chris Iannetta should be locked in the same storage closet as Adam Lind. Give 'em some water and snacks, maybe even a small television, but do not, under any circumstances, let them out until the game is done. I realize this leaves us with Dae-Ho Lee as the regular starting first basemen, but I don't know what else to tell you. Maybe they can sneak Edgar into the lineup a couple times? Poor Dan Vogelbach sure isn't going to get any reps out there. The seasons change, the earth rotates on its axis, and Mariners first basemen are bad.
Elsewhere on the diamond, Shawn O'Malley is clinging to the final vestiges of an unexpectedly productive season. You're all savvy baseball watchers, who know not to much much stock in the concept of hot streaks, but he's still glittering with the last bits of that mysterious Tri Cities Magic, so I say play him until those sparkles wear off. Plus, most importantly, every O'Malley at-bat is one less time we have to watch Ketel Marte at the plate. While we're talking poor offense I would be remiss to not highlight Leonys Martin's 65 wRC+, which remains the lowest of any regular starters for the month of September. Unfortunately, there's not much that can be done about that. Removing his bat from the lineup subsequently removes him from center field, and that's not a move the Mariners want to make.
When you write it all out like that it seems impossible for this team to remain in contention for the next seven days, and that's without even addressing the necessary failures of the Tigers and the Orioles, or the cross-your-fingers-hold-your-breath nature of the pitching staff. But here's the thing' in this tiny smidgen of time left in the 2016 season, the Seattle Mariners don't need to be great. They don't even need to be a lot better, they just need to be slightly better than whomever else they happen to be playing. A little better and, yeah, a little bit lucky, too.