Let me start this out by saying that they could still do it.
They are beaten and bruised. Stranded and sinking. Damned and diminished. But until it’s deemed mathematically impossible–when the clock strikes midnight and some sweaty, heaving flop of flesh holds up the 2017 Second Wild Card Title Belt–this odd collection of Seattle Mariners could still be the ones who end the so very long postseason drought.
After this past week, however, the chances of that happening are as slim as ever. Let’s recap:
- This time last week, the Mariners were 65-63, preparing for the first ever Players’ Weekend, and looked generally fine and capable of taking that second wild card spot.
- Yonder Alonso hits a solo blast off of Aroldis Chapman on Friday, lifting the Mariners to a dramatic 2-1 victory in 11 innings. In a game where the starting pitcher (Ariel Miranda) didn’t even last five innings (4.2 IP), the Mariners won. They improved to 66-63. Yay, Mariners.
- The Yankees dominate the rest of the series, outscoring the Mariners 16-4 over the next two games. At one point, the Mariners committed five errors in a single inning. Each starting pitcher for the Yankees–C.C. Sabathia, Sonny Gray, and Masahiro Tanaka–surrendered just one run over seven innings. To reiterate, this is an ‘each’ scenario–in total, their starting pitchers allowed just 3 runs in 21 innings. Dropping a series to the Yankees in New York is nothing to scoff at, but the Mariners were beaten and beaten bad.
- The very same Mariners, now sitting just a game above .500, march forward to Baltimore where they proceed to do...this:
So where does that leave the Mariners?
Alllllllll the way down here:
As I type this, the Minnesota Twins are hammering the Chicago White Sox. It is 8-0 in the 8th inning. The Twins are playing like a genuine playoff team and the White Sox are playing like a team that doesn’t give a single care about the well being of Hawk Harrelson. By the time this post finds its way to your eyes, the Mariners will likely be four games back of the final playoff spot, with four teams standing between them and the Twins. Most websites have downgraded their playoff chances from ‘it’s unlikely’ to “it’s gonna take a miracle” levels, so let’s just tell it how it is: the last seven days have nearly ended your 2017 Seattle Mariners, and I’m afraid they’ve just about used up all of the wiggle room they had left. They’ll either need A) multiple teams to collapse, most of which seem far more prepared to handle the home stretch than the Mariners, or B) to play at optimal levels in nearly every facet of the game for an entire month. Have you your Albers? Have you your Yovani Gallardo? Pioneers! O Pioneers!
The addition of Mike Leake is terrific, for this year and beyond, but they’ll be asked to not just survive, but thrive with some combination of the following in their rotation until at least mid-September–the earliest potential return time for James Paxton and Felix Hernandez:
To make matters worse, Ariel Miranda–who was starting to look like a guy who could routinely beat his peripherals–has been staunchly reminded of the existence of gravity (or, in the case of his home runs allowed, the lack thereof) in the second half. Despite an uptick in strikeouts, he’s been hit hard and hit often, surrendering 2.36 home runs per 9 innings and a hard-hit ball percentage nearly ten percent higher than it was in the first half of the season. In the month of August, he has a 6.69 FIP and 6.07 xFIP. What once was a somewhat reliable rock has turned into one of those hollow rocks people use to stash their spare keys. Oh, and David Phelps is hurt again. I feel so very bad for the pitching staff.
As for the offense, I’ll let former Lookout Landing writer Andrew Rice explain:
After today, Seattle's position player wRC+ in the second half is just 91, ~T-25th in baseball. https://t.co/YX4JAAPSgY— Andrew Rice (@Andrew_Rice) August 30, 2017
For every up there is a down,— Andrew Rice (@Andrew_Rice) August 28, 2017
For every square there is a round,
For every high there is a low,
For every to there is a fro. pic.twitter.com/V8VRPxvHxo
It’s been said so very many times before, but it’s truly impressive how well the Mariners have managed to tread water given all they’ve had to deal with this season. Injuries, misfortunes, hard regression, ice cold streaks and lukewarm surges–it’s all brought the Mariners to this point:
One month of baseball.
A whole bunch of games against a whole bunch of contenders.
All room for error gone.
A faint pulse.
(P.S. Hey, Mariners, if you’re going to miss the playoffs, please slide up some in the draft order. I’ve been trying to get Nick Madrigal into a Mariners uniform since 2015 and he’s draft eligible next year! Thanks!)