Are the Mariners Playoff Contenders?

Jacob Blockhan, Writer

Mariners players celebrate after another close victory, something they have continued to do all season. (Photo:| Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The 2021 Seattle Mariners are right in the thick of this year’s MLB wild card chase. A team that many expected to finish well below .500 this season has somehow placed themselves in playoff contention.

As of Sept 8, The Mariners have dropped to 3 games behind the Boston Red Sox who hold the last wild card spot. Both teams have a comparatively easy schedule compared to other playoff contenders, so now every game is a must win for both teams.

However, this will not be easy as the Mariners still have to face Boston for a series as well as Oakland, two playoff contenders. The Mariners are currently projected at an 8.4% chance to make the playoffs.

The Mariners 21-year tradition of losing may have a light at the end of the tunnel though. The M’s tout the major league’s best farm system with a slew of young talent. Mariners fans have a lot to be excited about as Jarred Kelenic, Cal Raleigh, and Logan Gilbert have made their first appearances in the majors.

Beyond that, the Mariner’s pitcher Yusei Kikuchi has shone brightly, making the All-Star team. Meanwhile, Ty France has broken out on offense and defense, while J.P Crawford has stayed Solid and Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger have hit career bests in home runs. 

After a dramatic walk off walk to start their season with a win, the Mariners continued to win games in unconventional ways. In fact, the Mariners are no ordinary baseball team. They refuse to be anything but weird. They always seem to do the unthinkable. 

The Mariners have gone a league-leading 27-14 in one run decisions. Despite what almost every statistic implies, the Mariners have  just kept winning, climbing to 10 games above .500 after a rough month of may. 

That month featured 2 six game losing streaks and two no-hitters thrown against them. The team looked down and out but has proved to be resilient and kept winning despite many glaring holes in their game.

The Mariner’s have not boasted a shut down closer and have blown many leads late. When they got a shutdown closer in Kendall Graveman they shipped him to Houston for Abraham Toro. Despite the controversy of the trade Toro is looking to be a star for the Mariners in years to come.

Now the Mariners turn to previously unknown pitchers who have proved themselves this season. An example of this is Paul Sewald who, in a game against the Astros, pitched the Mariners out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the tenth, striking out the heart of the Astros lineup. 

Because of this and a clutch Kyle Seager home run in the 11th, the Mariners went on to win in the most Mariner fashion that they could. 

The Mariners seem to win when they should have lost and lose when they should have won. How could a team that swept the World Series contender Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games get swept by the Detroit Tigers, a team that has struggled this year.

There is no answer for this. These are the Mariners, a team with a winning record, yet still have a run differential of -56 and a chance to make the postseason. At this pace, the Mainers would become the team with the worst point differential to ever make the playoffs.

When asked about this, Manager Scoot Servais said, “Somebody just told me our run differential was minus-9 this trip, but our fun differential was about plus-90”.