The Major League Baseball All-Star break has arrived, and the Seattle Mariners find themselves in a difficult position.
The Mariners reached the break 43-47 and in fourth place in the American League West. The division title is beyond Seattle’s grasp as the Mariners trail the division-leading Houston Astros by a whopping 17.5 games. However, Seattle isn’t out of the wild-card race. The Mariners are just 4.0 games back for the wild card, though there are six teams ahead of Seattle for the AL’s two wild-card spots.
It’s been a season that’s offered its share of hope for Mariners fans. Seattle is in the midst of its best offensive season since 2007. The Mariners scored 431 runs in their first 90 games for an average of 4.79 per game, ranking fifth in the AL. That’s more runs per game than last season, when Seattle scored the third-most in the AL. Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano continue to defy age, being selected for the All-Star team. Jean Segura, when healthy, has been everything the Mariners hoped when acquired during the offseason. Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger are having promising rookie campaigns.
But the offense has been offset by the pitching, which has struggled. Seattle has allowed 435 runs for 4.83 per contest, ranking 11th in the AL. Injuries have ravaged the rotation, with at one point each of Seattle’s top four starters (Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly, James Paxton) on the disabled list simultaneously. While Hernandez and Paxton are back, Smyly has been ruled out for the season and Iwakuma recently suffered a setback in his rehabilitation. The patchwork rotation put together has only been treading water. As for the bullpen, closer Edwin Diaz is suffering through some sophomore hiccups, while the Mariners have constantly churned through their depth relievers.
Can the Mariners put things together for a second-half playoff drive and end the franchise’s 15-year postseason drought?