The Seattle Mariners have been better than anticipated in the 2021 season.
This was supposed to be a year of transition toward clear contention in 2022 and 2023.
However, the Mariners have been one of MLB’s biggest surprises to this point, by going 63-56 in the 2021 campaign.
Additionally, they recently were above the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays in the quest for a Wild Card spot.
The American League West division always seemed like a long-shot for the M’s, who are currently 7.5 games behind the leaders, the Houston Astros.
The Wild Card spot has been a tangible possibility for weeks, but it has been slowly starting to fade.
They Are Not Dead, But They Are Slowly Starting To Fall Behind
Before Tuesday’s games, Seattle is five games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card.
That’s not an impossible difference to erase, but with a month and a half of the season remaining, it’s almost impossible.
Complicating matters is the fact that Seattle would need not only to overcome the A’s, but they also need to surpass the Yankees and Blue Jays.
Seattle was an interesting story around the deadline, when they made both buyers and sellers’ moves.
For the first time, I do think the Mariners extended losing streak and fading from contention can be laid at the feet of the GM. He killed the spirit this team had. Big miscalculation.
— SPLASH Guide (@thesplashguide) August 12, 2021
Shortly after that, they bought, bringing in Tampa Bay Rays closer Diego Castillo.
The Mariners remain in contention for a Wild Card berth, but they have been slowly ceding ground to the better teams in the AL.
Seattle has a 7-7 record in August, and while that’s not entirely bad, several of those losses came to the Yankees, which makes them more painful and difficult to overcome at this point of the season.
It’s not that Seattle has completely collapsed after the break, it’s just that teams in contention for the Wild Card spots, such as the Yankees and Blue Jays, have predictably been better by virtue of their better rosters.
Additionally, Oakland and Boston held significant advantages and are the current Wild Card teams at this juncture.
The Future Remains Exciting
The Mariners remain a very exciting team for the future.
They have promoted top prospects to Double-A and Triple-A, which means they could be ready to contribute next season.
Jarred Kelenic has taken a step forward in performance, but still has ways to go to show he can be a starting outfielder worthy of his lofty top prospect status.
Mitch Haniger, the Mariners’ best offensive performer, has cooled off somewhat recently (.262/.309/.361 with one home run and 17 strikeouts in his last 15 games).
Kikuchi has a 5.45 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP in his last seven starts, far worse than his season 3.82 and 1.12 marks, respectively.
Gilbert appears to have hit a wall, with a 4.79 ERA in his last seven games and 10 earned runs allowed in his most recent 15 frames.
Good summary of the #Mariners challenge for 2021 playoffs.
Need multiple teams ahead of them to “collapse” & MUST keep winning at a hot pace.
IMO: 93 W’s is typically required in AL.
I’m not confident M’s reach that this season or 2022.
Top-Tier MLB is HARD to crack!
— Fastballs&Curves (@TomSeaver41) August 16, 2021
Overall, you could say the team was due for some regression, since they were vastly outperforming their run differential of minus-47.
Seattle is still technically in contention, but they appear best suited to really go for it in 2022 rather than 2021.