The Mariners’ Quest for Playoffs Set to End in 2022

"Safeco Field Fisheye HDR" by ArtBrom is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Entering the final homestand of the 2022 MLB season, the Seattle Mariners seem to be finally knocking on the door of a playoff berth. With nine games left on the schedule, any combination of three wins by the Mariners or three losses by the Baltimore Orioles secures the Mariners’ spot in the playoffs, which feels almost like a guarantee at this point.

That said, based on the way the previous road trip went, it doesn’t feel impossible for the wheels to fall off. On Friday, Sept. 16, the Mariners embarked on a 20-game stretch against teams playing losing baseball to close out their year. Already in the top wild card spot, winning just half of them felt like a guarantee to make the playoffs. However, we might end up having to test that theory. Seattle lost a four-game set against the Los Angeles Angels, a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics and then a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals. The 10-game road trip ended when the Mariners blew an 11-2 lead, allowing the Royals to score 11 runs in the sixth inning to take a narrow 13-12 victory. Seattle finished the trip 3-7, though they still held onto their wild card spot.

The final 10-game homestand for the Mariners is somewhat similar: three games against the Texas Rangers, three more against the Athletics and finally a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers to end the season. On paper, it should be fairly easy for them to come away with some quality wins. However, given what we just saw from their last stretch, nothing is a guarantee.

That said, it feels like the Mariners are shaping up to be a better team as they enter the playoffs. Over the last few weeks, they went through stretches where their best players had to miss time due to injury. Eugenio Suarez just returned from a 10-day stretch with a banged-up finger. Cal Raleigh missed four games with a thumb injury. Superstar rookie Julio Rodriguez hasn’t played since Sept. 22 because of a back injury, but he is expected to be back soon.

The most concerning part is the pitching and how it has somewhat fallen off since the early stages of the season. Over their 10-game road trip against teams with more losses than wins by a good margin, they let the opponents score four or more runs in eight of them. It isn’t just a lapse by the starting rotation either. The stud bullpen we remember from earlier this season, dubbed “Los Bomberos (The Firefighters),” has been relatively struggling for the last few months. Their regression can be painted as natural since they still post numbers in the better half of baseball, but that elite bullpen was something the Mariners could point to as something other teams simply didn’t have. With that X factor out of the way, it’s hard to predict the postseason success for this team.

With all my pessimism out of the way, it’s time for Mariners fans to relax. Barring an ultimate catastrophe, they are making the playoffs. And while the me of last year would brace myself entirely for said disaster to happen, I am choosing to let go and believe in my baseball team to take their next step. It seems like the first playoff round would even be a somewhat favorable matchup for them against the Cleveland Guardians. The Mariners are going to do it, and it’s time to celebrate.