[Ed. note: Please welcome Ezra Roberts to the LL staff! Ezra will be writing updates on the Mariners’ playoff odds and how their Wild Card rivals are faring (in the future, this series will start off as an AL West rivalry update). Ezra is a Seattle native and longtime Mariners fan who is currently living in enemy territory (the Bay Area) working for a non-profit that supports BIPOC-owned small businesses. His favorite Mariner of all time is a tie between Félix and Kyle Seager, but Julio is quickly climbing the list. Welcome, Ezra!]
No, Mariners fans, this chart is no trick, not a joke, a ruse, or a classic chain pulling; you’re not drunk or high, you’re not dreaming, this is real. The Seattle Mariners have, at the time of this writing, a 99.7% chance of making the playoffs. I’ll be honest with you, there have been some dark days over the past 21 years—100 loss seasons, wasted talent, failed prospects, and bust free agent signings—but through it all, we never wavered, never declared defeat, never allowed ourselves to lose hope. Now we can finally see the promised land in all its glory, and it’s even more beautiful than I could have imagined.
Yankees (88 - 58)
Current playoff odds:
Make playoffs: 99% (FG), 100% (538)
Win World Series: 8.8% (FG), 13% (538)
Yeah, not much to say here or that I really wanna say. After scuffling through much of August, they’re playing well again; Aaron Judge is going bonkers. He probably will win MVP and he’s on pace to break 60 home runs. They had won four in a row, beating the Rays twice and getting as far as seven games out in front before dropping 2 out of 3 to the Brewers and their lead falling to 5.5 games. As of today, September 19, the Yankees’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 6; to clinch the AL East, it’s 11. Considering all that, I do not believe they are the best team in the league. Their starting pitching is inconsistent at best, even with Cole. Aroldis Chapman is getting back on track, but the rest of the bullpen has fallen off a bit, and outside of Aaron Judge, the rest of the lineup has struggled with inconsistency and injury. Anyone could get hot in the playoffs and knock them off fairly quickly.
Guardians (80 - 67)
Current Playoff Odds:
Make playoffs: 89.7% (FG), 92% (538)
Win World Series: 1.4% (FG). 2% (538)
Ah, the Al Central, where really average teams put together really average years and make really bad playoff runs. An average team that would be entirely out of it in any other division makes the playoffs because they play most of their games against teams that are even further out of it than they are. This year’s Guardians team looks to be no exception; despite the new name and the new contract for star Jose Ramirez, we see an Al Central story as old as the division itself. Despite this perceived easy win, the Guardians may still be standing on unstable ground with the White Sox snapping at their heels. The Guardians started this week with a six-game win streak following a sweep of both the Twins and the Angels (Insert Tungsten Arm O’Doyle reference here). Despite that, they ended it with a devastating 8-2 loss to the White Sox and remain just three games ahead of a very hot White Sox team. With two starters on the IL and unlikely to make a return within the next week, the Guardians will have a tough time staving off what looks like a surging White Sox team. With only two and a half weeks to go in the season, the Guardians still have an 89.7% chance to make the playoffs, bolstered by recently taking 4 out of 5 from the Twins. The upcoming games against the White Sox could very well decide their season.
Wild Card Hunt:
Mariners (81 - 65)
Current Playoff Odds:
Make Playoffs: 99.4% (FG), >99% (538)
Win World Series: 3.7% (FG), 2% (538)
Sitting at 81 - 65, the Mariners are not just a lucky playoff team, not scraping in via the third wild card or in a shortened season; they look and play like real, legitimate contenders on their best day, and recently, there have been a lot of good days. Our beloved M’s started the week with a thrilling 8-7 win over 2021 World Series Champs, the Atlanta Braves. Despite Marco Gonzales throwing six innings, giving up only two hits, one run, and tallying five strikeouts, the Mariners found themselves down 7-6 heading into the 9th inning. A rare bullpen collapse where Diego “Dominican Big Boss” Castillo and Paul Sewald gave up a combined five runs and only collected three outs between them wiped out a sizable Mariners lead. However, good vibes would rule the day, as they always do. Julio Rodriguez would swat a clutch homer in the bottom of the 9th with one out, his second homer of the game, to tie it up. Later that same inning, Eugenio Suarez would send an absolutely towering drive into left-center for his second home run of the game and his second walk-off of the year. This win raised the Mariners playoff chances from 99.4 to 99.8%. Following a split series with the Padres, the Mariners were in sole possession of the first wild card spot with two and a half weeks left in the season. However, a devastating series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/Disneyland has seen them fall back to earth, losing 3 out of 4... though we did get the last laugh by eliminating them from playoff contention with the only win of the series. The Mariners still sit at a 99.4% chance to make the playoffs, though now in the third wild card. They still have one of the easier schedules remaining, and with injuries seeming to subside [knock wood knock wood knock wood], they could lock this up sooner than we think. With the Orioles loss today (September 19th), the Mariners magic number is now 11.
Blue Jays (83 - 64)
Current Playoff Odds:
Make Playoffs: 99.4% (FG), 99% (538)
Win World Series: 6.7% (FG), 4% (538)
Despite Vlad Jr. only slashing a dismal .224/.268/.328 over their last 15 games, the Blue Jays are still very much in this race, partially thanks to the heavy lifting by Bo Bichette. In the same time frame, Bichette has slashed a sizzling .484/.515/.984, dominating opposing pitchers left, right, and center. Despite this, the Blue Jays have been going through a bit of a rough patch, much to the joy of Mariners fans everywhere. The Blue Jays came into a big home series against division and Wild Card rival the Tampa Bay Rays, hoping to put some distance between each other in a five-game home series. However, things have not worked out as they would have expected. Despite winning three out of five, the Blue Jays found themselves a game down on the Mariners in the wild card, following an 11-0 trouncing in the series’ final game. Unfortunately for us, they seem to have bounced back, taking two out of three from the Orioles and pushing themselves back ahead of the Mariners and the Rays for the first Wild Card spot. However, the Blue Jays have struggled with consistency this season, and their remaining schedule sees them facing the Phillies, Rays, and Yankees before finishing against the bottom of the AL East.
Rays (82 - 65)
Current Playoff Odds:
Make Playoffs: 97.4% (FG), 96% (538)
Win World Series: 4.7% (FG), 3% (538)
Over the past two months, the Rays have quietly been building their momentum, not only in the Wild Card race but in the AL East as well, at one point seriously threatening the Yankees for the division lead. However, that hope, though not totally dead, is certainly significantly reduced. They came into a series with the Toronto Blue Jays with a similar hope of creating some distance in the Wild Card race, and this did not happen. Both teams ended up watching the Mariners sneak past them into the first Wild Card spot. Though they did cap the series off with an 11-0 dismantling of the Blue Jays while fielding an all Latin lineup on Roberto Clemente day behind a spotless five innings from returning ace Shane McClanahan (on the IL since the beginning of the month with a shoulder impingement), they still dropped three games to the Blue Jays and fell to the third Wild Card spot momentarily. However, with the return of McClanahan and the seeming resurgence of Randy Arozarena following a very hot August, the Rays could be very dangerous down the stretch. Taking two out of three from the Rangers over the weekend has once again put them in the second Wild Card spot. However, a tough series with the A*tros could see them lose position; they already dropped the first game of the series yesterday, although now that the Astros have clinched, they’re not exactly incentivized to play their starters. Still, with a 97.4% chance to make the postseason, the Rays are also looking to make some noise this October.
White Sox (76 - 71)
Current Playoff Odds:
Make Playoffs: 12.7% (FG), 13% (538)
Win World Series: .4% (FG), <1% (538)
Following a massive victory over the Guardians, which was preempted by taking 3 out of 4 from the A’s and a two game split with the Rockies, the White Sox look primed and ready to jump their division rival. Leading the White Sox are the ever-consistent 2020 MVP Jose Abreu and second-year outfielder Andrew Vaughn. The return of ace Lance Lynn has additionally bolstered their rotation, and they expect All-Star Tim Anderson to return as soon as next week. With the bats heating up and the wins finally falling in place, the White Sox could be in a position to make a real run for the division, which is likely their only shot at the playoffs. Despite only sitting at a 20% chance to make the playoffs, the big win over the Guardians jumped them up from 15% in just a day. A weekend series win, taking 2 out of 3 from the Tigers, further distances them from the Twins and keeps this team rolling, having won 6 out of their last 10. Starting Tuesday, they face the Guardians for the final time this season in a three game series that could very well decide the fate of the division.
Orioles (76 - 70)
Current Playoff Odds: 1% (FG), 1% (538)
Win World Series: 0% (FG), <1% (538)
For a brief moment, it looked like the Orioles could make a serious run at the playoffs, even going so far as to threaten the Mariners’ chances of getting in. The call-up of top prospect Adley Rutschman seemed to have put a spark in this team like we haven’t seen in years, and they made a serious push despite selling at the trade deadline. However, this has seemed to be a flash in the pan, as their playoff chances have continued to drop as the season continues. Peaking at just 10% in August, the Orioles have watched their season trickle away since then, and recent weeks have shown that the same fire isn’t there. Taking two games off the Nationals did little to diminish the 3 out of 4 they dropped to the Red Sox, including losing three in a row and a ruthless 17-4 thrashing. I hate to say it to our fellow perpetual cellar-dwellers, but it looks like the O’s season will be over in the next few weeks, despite how fun it’s been. With a 1% chance of making the playoffs after dropping 2 out of 3 to the Blue Jays over the weekend, the once-surging Orioles are probably just a few days from elimination. Don’t worry, bird bros, there’s always next year, and Adley isn’t going anywhere, even if he won’t be winning Rookie of the Year.