Drayer: Making sense of Mariners’ playoff chances with just 9 games left

Sep 24, 2021, 1:34 PM
Mariners OFs Jake Bauers, Jarred Kelenic, and Mitch Haniger celebrate after they beat the Oakland Athletics. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

A quick look at a where things stand with the Mariners two games out of the second Wild Card spot with just nine games left to play.

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Holding the first Wild Card spot is the Boston Red Sox, who are two games up of the New York Yankees, who hold a one game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays and a two game lead over the Mariners.

Remaining schedules

All four Wild Card contenders have three three-game series remaining beginning Friday.

Those series, and the current record for all four contenders:

Red Sox 88-65: Yankees, Orioles, Nationals

Yankees 86-67: Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays

Blue Jays 85-68: Twins, Yankees, Orioles

Mariners 84-69: Angels, A’s, Angels

The math

Assuming the top Wild Card spot is out of reach, the way I see it is the Mariners’ most realistic chance at gaining entry to the playoffs will be to finish the season in a tie for the second Wild Card spot.

How do they get there?

It’s worth noting that if the Mariners were to go 7-2 down the stretch, they would end the season on a 12-2 run, their best run of the season.

If the Mariners go 7-2 and finish 91-71, what they’d need in order to tie for the second Wild Card spot: YANKEES 5-4, JAYS 6-3

If the Mariners go 8-1 and finish 92-70, what they’d need in order to tie: YANKEES 6-3, JAYS 7-2

Is it likely the Mariners go 7-2 or better or the Yankees lose more than three games the rest of the way? Those who are far better at math than me say no.

The odds are what the odds are, and as it is, Fangraphs gives the Mariners a 5.4% chance to make the postseason. The Blue Jays, who are just one game in front of them? 40.1%.

I have no idea if tiebreaking games are factored into the odds, but we do have the tiebreaker rules should the Mariners make their way to a game 163 or even a 164.

MLB’s tiebreaker rules

If two teams tie for the second Wild Card, they will play each other Monday, Oct. 4 for the right to advance to the main Wild Card game on Oct. 6. Homefield advantage would go to the team with the better head-to-head record. If the Mariners finish the season tied with the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card, the tiebreaker game would be played at T-Mobile Park as the Mariners hold the 4-2 season advantage over Toronto. If the Mariners are tied with the Yankees, the game would be played in New York as the Yankees took the season series 5-2.

If three teams tie, the real fun begins. Teams would choose/receive A, B and C designations according to head-to-head records with Club C traveling to face the winner of a game between Club A and Club B to determine who advances to the Wild Card Game.

Things could get awfully crazy next weekend. If the Mariners continue to win and get some help they very well may be hopping on a plane Sunday night or quickly preparing the stadium for a Monday game.

If they play well and don’t get help. the possibility exists that they win 90 games for the first time since 2003 and, like 2003, miss the playoffs. Regardless, a finish that few can say they predicted.

Follow Mariners insider Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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