When you take a quick glance at the MLB standings, the depleted Seattle Mariners find themselves a top of the talent-laden AL West. This was a team that had the offensive pop to hold their own this year, but with Anaheim and Houston appearing to be stronger on paper, not many predicted the Mariners to contend for the AL West Title.
To compel things more, 8-time All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano is in the midst of an 80-game suspension for violating the league’s joint drug agreement. This was supposed to be when the Mariners fell back down to earth, but instead, it has propelled this team to 18 games over 500.
In past years, Mariners pitching has saved them from being a laughing stock. This year is the complete opposite. Felix Hernandez might be Seattle’s fifth-best starting pitcher as it stands, Mike Leake has six wins with an ERA a quarter of the way up Mt. Everest. However, the most important stat of them all is they have found their Canadian starter that has been able to stay healthy. James Paxton is doing what everyone expected Erik Bedard to do when he came to Seattle in the Adam Jones trade. His 3.02 ERA through 89.1 innings is in the top 10 in the American League, in addition, he’s striking out hitters at a career-high rate (11.2 K’s/9), as well as keeping the ball in the ballpark.
Seattle isn’t going away anytime soon. At 44-24 they would need to have a tailspin to even finish below 500. The trading deadline is seven weeks away. Nelson Cruz is 37, Denard Span is 34 and former top prospect Kyle Seager is already 30. Moreover, closer Edwin Diaz, 24, is enjoying his best season so far, pulling a 2.50 ERA through 36 innings, and is on pace to shatter the 34-save season he set last year.
The Mariners are built to win now, they have role players in place similarly to Kansas City in 2015. They need to go all in at the trade deadline and make sure they get to the playoffs. The Blue Jays did it in 2015-2016, and it almost paid off, reaching the American League Championship Series both times. The AL East is back to where it was in the mid-2000’s with the Red Sox and Yankees dominating at the top. The Angels are also due for a 90+ win season in the next few years, and Oakland is finally putting it together with a deep farm system. In fact, since 2001, each AL West team has had multiple playoff appearances, except for the Mariners.
The ongoing myth is that ever since Safeco Field was built on top of a burial ground in 1999, the Mariners have failed to have postseason success, making the playoffs just twice and ALCS once. However, like all curses, they all have to come to an end at some point, right?
The time is now for the Mariners and their fans. Seattle can’t let this opportunity to go to waste.