The Seattle Mariners could be a problem for the Blue Jays down the final stretch of the season
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
It’s August 14th, and the Toronto Blue Jays have a 1.5-game lead over the Seattle Mariners for the final AL Wild Card spot.
While the Baltimore Orioles are eight games ahead of them for first in the AL East, the Wild Card race currently has the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays sitting 2.5 and 5 games in front of the Jays, respectively.
But the real issue for the Jays in the final month and a half of the season could be the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year — the Seattle Mariners.
Although the Mariners appeared to be sellers at the trade deadline after sending their most reliable reliever in Paul Sewald to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the club turned down the opportunity to send Teoscar Hernandez out of town despite multiple teams — most prominently the Jays — reportedly being very interested in acquiring the veteran outfielder ahead of the trade deadline.
Instead, the Mariners dealt from what they clearly felt was an area of strength in their bullpen to add to two areas of weakness — their outfield depth and middle infield depth. They accomplished this by acquiring big leaguers Dominic Canzone and Josh Rojas in addition to minor leaguer Ryan Bliss. Since that trade, the Mariners have been one of the hottest teams in baseball, and prior to this past weekend’s series against the Baltimore Orioles, hadn’t lost a series since July 15th.
In that time, the Mariners have amassed a record 17-8, ran off an eight-game winning streak, and by way of a four-game sweep, effectively ended the Los Angeles Angels’ post-deadline playoff push before it even began. The Mariners’ starting pitching has been stellar, the bullpen has been steady for the most part despite the subtraction of Sewald, and the bats have finally seem to come alive.
The point is, the Mariners have been hot, and they now find themselves nipping at the Jays’ heels for that highly coveted final AL Wild Card spot. Tonight, they open a series in Kansas City against the Royals. Which brings us to our next point.
Perhaps what makes the Mariners most threatening down the stretch if you’re a Jays fan isn’t that they’ve been playing good baseball, but that they have one of the softest schedules of any team in the league to close out the season. From now until the end of the regular season, the Mariners have two series against the Royals — one of which is a four game set — two series against the Oakland Athletics, and three game sets against the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, LA Angels, and Cincinnati Reds.
While weaker opponents make up the majority of the Mariners’ schedule from here on out, the club does still have to take on AL West powerhouses in the form of the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers six times each before the season comes to a close. Not to mention a three-game set against the LA Dodgers in mid-September, which could prove to be a pivotal moment in the Mariners’ season.
According to Tankathon, the Mariners have the third-easiest schedule for the remainder of the season, while the Jays sit a bit higher with the 10th easiest remaining schedule league-wide. Boston and the Yankees both find themselves in the top ten when it comes to schedule difficulty, which only adds to the idea that the Mariners are going to be the team Jays fans find themselves scoreboard-watching the most as the season comes to a close.
Of course, the easiest way for the Blue Jays to overcome all this is to continue playing good baseball. It doesn’t matter how many games the Mariners win down the final stretch of the season if the Jays don’t win fewer.
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