The American League Wild Card is still up for grabs, and up to four teams have very good chances of getting one of the two available spots: the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and a surprising fourth: the Seattle Mariners.
Yes, the team that was criticized for trading star closer Kendall Graveman at the deadline to a division rival, the Houston Astros, is 1.5 games away from a spot in the playoffs as of Tuesday afternoon.
The 87-70 Mariners are 2.5 games behind the Yankees for the first Wild Card and 1.5 games behind the Red Sox for the second WC berth.
I really think the Mariners best chance to get in is either tying with New York or Toronto at 90 wins
Then, have a playoff for the wildcard spot.
10 games left to go. Lets go at least 7-3 and finish 90-72.
— SeattleSportsNut💎 (@SeattleSportNut) September 23, 2021
Nobody Expected Seattle To Contend In 2021
Before the season started, imagining Seattle competing in the final week of the season wasn’t easy.
They were always viewed as a solid .500 team for 2021, with much better days ahead given their strong farm system full of impact players.
However, they have parlayed solid seasons from veteran sluggers Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger, plus more than serviceable performances by their rotation and bullpen to have a successful, winning 2021.
Now, they started their week winning a crucial matchup against the Oakland Athletics to pen a key series.
On Monday, the M’s trounced the A’s 13-4 and took the opener.
Seattle is peaking at the right time, winning two straight games and taking eight of their last 10 contests.
The most impressive thing about the 2021 Mariners is that they are 17 games above the .500 mark while having a negative run differential.
Run differential is often a better indicator of a team’s true worth and talent level, but it does give us an idea about other things.
Yes, it’s clear that the Mariners are overachieving, but they are also good in close games because of their excellent bullpen.
A Rock-Solid Bullpen
MARINERS TAKES THE LEAD!!!
Their bullpen has been amazing so this is looking great https://t.co/em5tpxaPjY
— 💎 DaveLA 💎 (@DaveLA_Sports) September 23, 2021
They have also added impressive youngster Matt Brash to the bullpen.
Diego Castillo also came over from the Tampa Bay Rays at the deadline to help.
There are no stars in the Mariners’ pitching staff, yet they have managed to keep the team in the game more often than not.
As for the offense, the fact that Jarred Kelenic started to figure out major league pitching certainly gave the offense a much-needed boost.
Again, Seager (35 home runs) and Haniger (37 blasts) have carried most of the load, but it’s nice to see hitters like Kelenic, Ty France, J.P. Crawford, Tom Murphy, and Abraham Toro (yes, the one Seattle obtained in exchange for Graveman) contributing to the cause.
Seattle may be the least favored of the four candidates to win a spot in the playoffs via the Wild Card, but the team certainly has a chance, and that’s more than what everybody expected from them before the season and after the trade deadline.
If Seattle is eliminated, they will surely go down swinging.
It’s admirable that they have gotten this far.NEXT: Mariners Finally Building Long-Term Contender