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Published: Friday, August 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Assessing the Mariners' postseason chances

Breakdown shows the Mariners have a tougher challenge than other contenders

BOSTON — The numbers through 126 games say the Mariners play better against winning clubs than losing clubs and better on the road than at home.
Good thing.
Because if the Mariners are to reach postseason for the first time in 13 years, they'll need to do so by playing a tougher schedule and more road games than any other major contender.
Didn't think this was going to be easy, did you?
The Mariners (68-58) had an open date Thursday before opening a three-game weekend series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
And with the September stretch run looming on the horizon, that makes this the perfect time to assess where the Mariners are positioned among the American League's other postseason contenders.
Our breakdown is limited to clubs with winning records. And we've listed them in order of their likelihood, though computer projections, to reach postseason.
Our computer odds are an average of the simulations run by ESPN, Baseball Prospectus and fangraphs.com.
The schedule difficulty was determined by an average of the winning percentage for a club's remaining opponents.
All stats and computations are prior to Thursday's games. (So, no, Detroit's 1-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday, which helps the Mariners, is not included in the calculations.)

OAKLAND A'S
Through Wednesday: 74-52, second place in the American League West, 11/2 games out of first place. Lead the wild-card race and have six-game lead on first team out of the race.
Computer odds: 98.7 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .492 winning percentage. Play 18 of 36 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: The A's enter a 16-game run Friday that includes 10 games against the Angels and three against the Mariners. If they're going to pull out of their recent funk, now is the time.
Prognosis: Oakland has lost eight of its last 10 and, for whatever reason, hasn't been the same club since making those two big deadline trades to bolster its rotation. The A's are still well-positioned to reach postseason but appear far more vulnerable than those computer projections suggest.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Through Wednesday: 75-55, lead American League West by 11/2 games. Have 71/2-game lead on first team out of the wild-card race.
Computer odds: 98.5 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .484 winning percentage. Play 17 of 37 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: The Angels still have 10 games remaining against the A's, including seven of their next 10. We could find out in a hurry if and how they can weather the injury to right-hander Garrett Richards.
Prognosis: Los Angeles, with a healthy Richards, might be baseball's best club. His injury is a major blow. But while the Angels still have those 10 games against Oakland, they also have 15 against Houston, Texas and Minnesota. It's tough to imagine the Halos failing, at minimum, to claim a wild-card spot.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Through Wednesday: 73-52, lead American League East by nine games. Have 51/2-game lead on first team out of the wild-card race.
Computer odds: 97.3 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .478 winning percentage. Play 21 of 37 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: The Orioles have a reasonably easy schedule in that they don't play any of the other six top postseason contenders. But they close the season with seven road games — four at New York and three at Toronto. That should only matter if they stumble, and stumble badly, before then.
Prognosis: Stranger things have happened, but Baltimore is the surest thing on the board. Neither New York nor Toronto seems capable of closing what is a considerable gap in the division race.
DETROIT TIGERS
Through Wednesday: 68-56, second place in American League Central, one game out of first place. Have one game lead in race for final wild-card race.
Computer odds: 69.3 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .490 winning percentage. Play 19 of 38 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: Detroit has 11 games remaining against AL Central cellar-dweller Minnesota. Nice. After the Tigers complete a three-game series Sept. 19-21 at Kansas City, they close the season with seven home games (three against the White Sox and four against the Twins). Very friendly.
Prognosis: These Tigers somewhat resemble their 2012 predecessors who underachieved for five-plus months. That 2012 bunch pulled itself together, charged down the stretch and reached the World Series. This club has that capability because of its star power, but there's no guarantee that history repeats.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Through Wednesday: 70-56, lead American League Central by one game. Have two-game lead on first team out of the wild-card race.
Computer odds: 69.0 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .474 winning percentage. Play 20 of 36 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: The Royals have 13 games left against last-place teams and, the numbers suggest, the easiest remaining schedule among contenders. Still, they've had problems in New York over the years. So their Sept. 5-10 trip to New York and Detroit for a pair of three-game series could be pivotal.
Prognosis: These Royals appear more than capable of ending the franchise's 28-year postseason drought. But most clubs, when making their first serious postseason chase in years, undergo a stressful September. It will be interesting to see if that happens to the Royals and, if it does, how they react.
SEATTLE MARINERS
Through Wednesday: 68-58, third place in the American League West, 71/2 games out of first place. Are one game behind in race for final wild-card race.
Computer odds: 45.7 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .503 winning percentage. Play 15 of 36 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: The Mariners, from Sept. 12-18, play three against Oakland at Safeco Field before opening an 11-game trip with four games against the Angels in Anaheim. If they're still kicking after that, it gets real interesting.
Prognosis: A franchise-resurrection season in Seattle has a chance to climax with a postseason berth. A legit chance, but not a great chance. The Mariners' schedule is considerably tougher than the clubs they're trying to catch.
CLEVELAND INDIANS
Through Wednesday: 64-61, third place in American League Central, 51/2 games out of first place. Are 41/2 games behind in race for final wild-card spot.
Computer odds: 10.8 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .488 winning percentage. Play 20 of 37 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: The Indians have a chance to pull themselves back into the division race in a seven-day span from Aug. 29 to Sept 4. They play three games at Kansas City before returning home for four against the Detroit. They play both teams again later in September, but that might not matter if they lose ground in the first go-round.
Prognosis: The Indians need a lot to go right to return to postseason because they must climb past multiple clubs. Their best chance is for Kansas City or Detroit (or both) to stumble through September, and for the Mariners to get worn down by a tough schedule. Oh … and the Tribe needs to play its best all of the season. That's a lot to ask.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Through Wednesday: 65-62, second place in the American League East, nine games out of first place. Are 41/2 games behind in race for final wild-card spot.
Computer odds: 5.7 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .501 winning percentage. Play 22 of 35 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: The Blue Jays' final 14 games consist of six against the Orioles, four in New York against the Yankees and three against the Mariners. That's like hitting a hill 24-plus miles into a marathon. Tough.
Prognosis: The Orioles' big division lead means the Blue Jays are, pretty much, playing for the wild card. And to get there, they probably need to climb past the Mariners and either the Tigers or Royals. That unfriendly closing schedule makes that a tall order.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Through Wednesday: 63-61, third place in American League East, 91/2 games out of first place. Are five games behind in race for final wild-card spot.
Computer odds: 3.4 percent chance of reaching postseason.
Schedule difficulty: Remaining opponents have a weighted .513 winning percentage. Play 21 of 38 remaining games at home.
Key stretch: Not many soft spots for the Yankees over the final five-plus weeks, but there's a particularly tough 15-game stretch from Sept. 12-25 that includes eight games against division-leading Baltimore.
Prognosis: The Yankees have 22 games remaining against postseason contenders who currently have a better record. So there's opportunity ... but little chance.
Story tags » BaseballMariners

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