After slogging through the toughest part of their schedule in June and early July, the Mariners seemed like they were dead in the water; they were 5.5 games out of the wildcard and had dropped to third place in the AL West. Since then, the M’s have been on an incredible six game run. The M’s have closed the gap in the wildcard to 2.5 games and brought meaningful August baseball to Seattle.
This six game run saw Kennewick, Wash. native Shawn O’Malley hit the game winning home run to complete a comeback over the Angels. Nelson Cruz’s go ahead missile to help Seattle sweep Detroit and get within half a game of the Tigers in the wildcard standings. And flame throwing Edwin Diaz baffling major league hitters.
While the last week has been entertaining, it’s time for this team to play in October again…and end the franchise’s 15 year playoff drought.
There is too much talent on this roster, and a lot of money tied into it, for this team to be thud close and not make the playoffs. Kyle Seager, Cruz, and Cano have been worth a combined 10.2 war through Saturday, and are set to make over $45 million this season. When you add in the financial investment in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma — Kuma has been worth every penny (1.8 fWAR) the M’s are paying him and the Dodgers should feel like fools — it becomes clear that this team needs to break into the playoffs soon, and this feels like this is their best chance over the next couple of seasons.
With Hernandez, Cano, and Cruz all being signed to long-term contracts and all of them on the wrong side of 30 (King Felix just turned 30); the franchise probably can’t afford to make too many more long term (and massive) commitments to free agents…the winning has to happen now, like right now.