Morosi: Mariners are well set up to make playoffs, potentially win 2 series
The Mariners are back in action after a Thursday off day and find themselves still holding the second American League Wild Card spot.
Seattle is half a game up on Tampa Bay, which holds the third Wild Card spot, and the Mariners are 2.5 up on both Baltimore and Cleveland, who are the next teams up in the playoff race.
There are a number of reasons that MLB Network insider Jon Morosi is confident the Mariners will end their long playoff drought this season, as he explained Thursday afternoon to Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
“There are still some difficult games up ahead, but when you look at the matchups and who they’re playing … the schedule is there,” Morosi said. “It’s all in front of them, I would say. Everything is right in front of the Mariners to make the playoffs.”
But there’s more to the Mariners’ playoff hopes than what’s mathematically the easiest remaining schedule in baseball.
Morosi thinks the addition of new ace Luis Castillo is a really big deal for Seattle, especially after his outing on Wednesday in New York against the AL East-leading Yankees.
“The way that Castillo came out and pitched, that to me, there are some games that are sort of metaphorically worth more than the game itself. And that was one of them,” Morosi said. “When you beat the Yankees and your new ace is on the mound and he looks that good, that means a lot.”
The Mariners have the best record in the American League since June 20, Morosi noted, so Seattle has “done the hard work.” So what must they do to avoid falling short of a playoff appearance?
“You don’t ever want to coast, but I think mentally they basically have to say … ‘Just don’t have any bad losing streaks or bad stretches and we’re fine. If we play .500, we’re probably going to be in.’ I think that’s what they can say to themselves,” Morosi said.
And the addition of Castillo should help prevent that, Morosi said.
“The best way to not have bad losing streaks is to have that stopper (in Castillo),” he said. “Obviously you have to have a solid bullpen, which the Mariners do, but when you have that stopper, you feel like ‘OK, that’s our win day. We get a win there and then we basically have to go .500 the rest of the time and we’re in good shape.'”
Additionally, Morosi doesn’t think any team currently trailing the Mariners in the standings is better than them.
“No one below the Mariners scares me. They don’t. They’re good teams and could they pass (Seattle)? Sure. But the Mariners need to worry about the Mariners,” Morosi said. “If the Mariners play good baseball they’re in. I believe that with all my heart and my mind. I think that the (Blue) Jays are the best Wild Card contender now and then aside from the Jays, it’s Seattle. They’ve got the best team, they really do. They added arguably the biggest prize (Castillo) from the pitching side of the entire deadline. They have every reason to make the playoffs, they really do.”
The Mariners’ addition of Castillo was certainly noteworthy, but they didn’t add an impact bat like many thought they would. While Seattle is aiming to get a number of key bats back in the lineup over the next week, the team offensively ranks in the bottom third of baseball in runs scored.
Do the M’s have enough offense to stay competitive going forward?
“(Adam) Frazier has picked up his game a little bit. I think that to me has been something that I have have noticed maybe in the last month or so is his at-bats have gotten better. (Jesse) Winker I still think is searching a bit for that full consistency. And it’s also just a different lineup when Julio (Rodriguez) is not in it,” Morosi said. “(Jarred) Kelenic had a two-RBI game here in the last several days, the home run against Cole. That’s a good data point for him. And so I think there’s a certain confidence and belief that – obviously now (Kyle) Lewis being back at least as a DH and Kelenic coming up and hoping to see some more adjustments – that there’s enough there. Is there enough there to beat the Astros in a seven-game series? That I’m not sure about. But I do think there’s enough offense from them to make it to the playoffs.”
Morosi said the Mariners probably don’t have enough bats to “slug with” the Astros or Yankees in a seven-game series, but he thinks Seattle can still make plenty of noise if the team reaches the postseason.
“This is a playoff team. This is a team, with the offense as inconsistent as they are, that is still absolutely good enough to win a playoff round or maybe even two,” Morosi said. “I really think that’s where I believe this team is, especially because the rotation and having Castillo there, I think, allows them to just space things out a bit more and have a little more head of steam with the pitching as the playoffs begin.”
Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full conversation with Morosi at this link or in the player below.