The Seattle Mariners are playing .618 baseball into mid-May following a sweep over the last few days of the Tampa Bay Rays. With an overall record of 21-13, the Mariners are 1.5 games up in the American League West on the Texas Rangers. Seattle’s most recent highlight was a walk-off win over the Rays in extra innings.
Scott Servais, the manager of the Mariners, is a first-year skipper. When his hiring was announced it drew some criticism due to the fact that he had no previous managerial experience. However, a 21-13 start will certainly keep his critics quiet for the time being.
“I keep saying we are enjoying it, and it’s a lot of fun and all that other stuff,” said Servais. “But the thing that’s exciting for me is how our team has come together. They really believe in each other.”
The Mariners are largely earning their victories on the mound as they lead the entire American League in ERA at 3.11 entering Thursday. Felix Hernandez has been effective in his seven starts with a 3-2 record and a 2.27 ERA. However Seattle’s pitching certainly isn’t entirely about their starters as Steve Cishek, Vidal Nuno, and Nick Vincent have all been excellent out of the bullpen.
At the plate, Robinson Cano has been enjoying a comeback year. The second baseman had an OPS of just .779 last season with 21 home runs. But so far in 2016, his OPS is .954, and he already has 12 home runs which puts him among the leaders for all of Major League Baseball. Seattle are currently ranked 4th in team OPS within the American League, so even in games where their pitching is ineffective, they can count on staying in it with offensive punch. Dae-Ho-Lee has been effective in limited play while outfielders Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith are contributing regulars.
Having gone 8-2 over their last ten games, the upcoming week for Seattle looks promising as well. Thursday, May 12th is an off day for the Mariners, which should help them rest pitching for an upcoming weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels, a series that Seattle will host. Monday is also a day off for Seattle ahead of a road series against the Baltimore Orioles. While Baltimore have proven themselves to be a tough team this season, the Mariners should enter that road series with very well-rested pitching due to the two off days coming up over the next five.
It’s been 15 years since the Mariners were a part of the post-season, with numerous losing seasons since their excellent 2001 team fell in the ALCS. It’s a little too early to seriously talk about contenders for the playoffs, but the AL West doesn’t seem to be loaded with talented teams. The Houston Astros are only at .400 so far this season with just Texas playing above .500 baseball alongside Seattle at this point. While the Mariners might not be able to hold onto a better than .600 winning percentage over the long term, you have to wonder if there’s a pennant race or wild-card race in the cards for this team. Given the post-season drought in Seattle you have to think that one would be very welcome at this point in the franchise’s history.