Morosi: How Mariners stack up against other wild card contenders

Aug 3, 2023, 10:41 AM | Updated: 10:50 am

Seattle Mariners Teoscar Hernández...

Teoscar Hernández of the Seattle Mariners hits a walk-off single against Toronto on July 21, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners have quietly been among the best teams in baseball over the last month, and that’s certainly been a big boost for their playoff aspirations.

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After a 6-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, the Mariners have won four consecutive series and are back to four games over .500 (56-52). Entering Thursday, Seattle sits 3 1/2 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League wild card race, who the M’s recently took two of three from, and six games back of the Texas Rangers in the AL West.

It’s not impossible for the Mariners to make a run at an AL West title, but the third wild card spot is their most likely shot for a playoff spot at this point in time.

With that being the case, how do the M’s stack up against other AL wild card contenders? MLB Network insider Jon Morosi dove into that Wednesday during his weekly visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“I think with Boston, obviously, the Mariners just saw them. They’re a club that I think they have still some pitching concerns,” Morosi said of the Red Sox, who are 2 1/2 games back of Toronto and a full game up on the Mariners in the wild card standings. “I’m not as confident in their pitching as I am in what the Mariners are running out there. … I like Seattle’s chances to finish ahead of Boston.”

What about Toronto? Morosi said a recent injury could potentially hurt the Jays in a major way, which could in turn help the Mariners.

“The huge question for them now is Bo Bichette and how long he is going to be out,” Morosi said.

Bichette is Toronto’s star shortstop who leads the American League in batting average. He went down with a knee injury on Monday and landed on the injured list, and it’s unclear when he’ll return to action. That led to Toronto acquiring veteran shortstop Paul DeJong from St. Louis before Tuesday’s trade deadline.

“With all due respect to (first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.), who’s been a potential MVP candidate in the past, Bo Bichette makes that team go. He’s their best player,” Morosi said. “And so when he goes out, that changes their entire team. They’re gonna have to be really creative. They just lost their last two games to Baltimore.”

What makes this season different

The 2023 schedule is different than previous years as each team now plays every other MLB squad at least once. As a result, that means teams are playing fewer games against division rivals.

Right now, every team in the AL East is over .500, and three are currently holding playoff spots. The Red Sox are in fourth place in the East and are the first team out of the third wild card spot, while the New York Yankees are last in the East but are tied with the Mariners at 3 1/2 back of Toronto.

The Blue Jays still have a lot of games left against their division rivals, though.

“I think that the American League East and the way that the Jays are situated right now with their health – (outfielder) George Springer is really banged up – their pitching is just OK at the back end of the rotation with Hyun-Jin Ryu (just returning from injury) and Alex Manoah’s inconsistencies. I think the Mariners have every chance to catch and pass Toronto. I really believe that,” Morosi said. “And I think a lot of that is without Bo Bichette, they’re just not the same team.”

“This Mariners team I know has maybe kind of snuck up on some people nationally about how good they are, but this Seattle team has got as good of a chance to make the playoffs, as (do) a lot of other teams in the American League wild card picture right now,” Morosi later added.

Important weekend for Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have a huge series beginning Thursday night as they play four games in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. The series begins with Shohei Ohtani on the mound for the Halos while rookie Bryan Woo gets the ball for Seattle.

Entering Thursday, the Mariners are a half-game up on the Angels, who were clear buyers at the trade deadline, acquiring four notable players who are all set to be free agents after the season.

“This is a huge series. Four games against a team that’s right there with you in the wild card race,” Morosi said. “…  I like this matchup. It’s gonna be a fun series of great baseball.”

Ultimately for the Mariners, it likely comes down to passing the Blue Jays in the standings as to whether Seattle will make it back to the postseason.

“There’s every reason that I look at this and say you’ve got to finish ahead of, obviously, two of these teams we’re talking about, and make it such that if you can see that maybe Houston is gonna be finishing a strong second in the West, you can finish a strong third and you’ve just got to be better than Toronto,” Morosi said. “You’ve just got to be better than Toronto. And if you’re better than Toronto, you’ve got a really good chance to make the playoffs.”

Listen to the full conversation with Morosi, which includes trade deadline talk, at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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