By Blaidd Drwg
There are Mariners fans out there who are still entertaining hopes of getting into the playoffs despite a 50 – 59 (as of August 5th) record and being 7 games back from the 2nd wildcard spot. Why not. The AL is very mediocre this year and the 2 teams that currently possess the wild card spots are sporting .533 and .523 winning percentages, so one good win streak puts they M’s into contention.
The problem here is that the Mariners need to pass 7 teams just to reach the 2nd playoff spot and that is no easy feat with 53 games remaining, although it has been done before. Here is how the M’s remaining schedule breaks down:
15 games vs. teams with a record worse than the M’s – 9 vs. Oakland, 3 vs. Boston and 3 vs. Colorado. They really need to come out of those 15 games with a 10-5 record.
13 games vs. Texas – the Rangers are currently 5 games ahead of the M’s in the standings (and 6 ahead in the loss column) and significantly upgraded their starting pitching, so making the assumption that both teams play at the same level for the rest of the season (let’s just say .500 for the sake of argument), the M’s need to go 9-4 just to pass them in the standings.
7 games vs. Chicago – it is surprising that the White Sox are still in this, just 4.5 games back of the 2nd wild card despite being horrible. This is the team that the M’s first need to pass, but once again, despite being just 2.5 games back of the Pale Hose, the M’s are 4 back in the loss column (how have the M’s managed to play that many more games than the other teams in the league?) It would take a 5-2 record in those 7 games to catch the Sox assuming they both play .500 ball the rest of the way.
3 games vs Baltimore – the O’s are 6 games up on the M’s and just 1 game back of the 2nd wild card. They do have a brutal schedule the rest of the way though – 28 of their remaining 55 games are against teams with better records and that doesn’t count the 14 games against teams that are within 2 games of them in the wildcard race. The M’s probably need a sweep here or at least winning the series and then hope that the O’s split most of the games against the teams that are ahead of the M’s in the wild card race. If the O’s go into freefall or go on a tear, it will pretty much end the Mariners season.
6 games vs Houston – the Astros lead the M’s by 10 games in the division and are 2 up on the first wild card spot. The ‘Stros have been tough to figure out so these games don’t help the M’s other than potentially swapping the Angels and Astros as division leader/1st wild card team. A couple of important series, but the M’s would do far more damage to themselves if they come out of those 6 with a losing record than the Astros would.
6 games vs. LA – They are up 8 on the M’s for the first wild card spot. Same as the Astros – the 2 series against the Angels could do more harm than good to the M’s chances, depending on how they play out.
3 games vs. KC – Same as the LA and Houston series, but just 3 games so it wouldn’t be the end of the world for the M’s as long as they don’t get swept. KC is really good, so there is no guarantee there.
The M’s have no games remaining against the following teams ahead of them in the wild card standing: Toronto (currently in the 2nd wild card spot, but a brutal schedule to end the season), Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Detroit. All of those teams are at least 3 games up on the M’s in the standings and at least 4 up in the loss column.
It is a long road for the M’s to even think about making the playoffs and they are going to need a ton of help.
My prediction: the M’s make a brief run in the last 2 weeks of August and then fall apart, finishing somewhere around 78-84 for the season. McClendon will be looking for a new job but Zdrenzick will be safe for another year.