This weekend definitely didn’t go to plan.
The Seattle Mariners began the weekend in the thick of the American League wild-card race. However, the M’s dropped a crucial three-game set to the Texas Rangers. Although it’s an unenviable position to be in, the Mariners can take solace in the fact they control their own playoff destiny the rest of the way.
Wild, Wild West
The AL West is anybody’s to claim. By virtue of their convincing series win, and with some help from the Kansas City Royals, the Texas Rangers have moved into the division lead. But there’s little to no separation between the three teams.
As it stands, the Rangers have a surmountable 3.0-game lead over the Mariners and a 1.5-game edge on the Astros. But the MLB schedule-makers did the Mariners a favor with their end-of-season docket.
Mariners Divisional Schedule
Including this past weekend’s series, Seattle ends the year with ten straight games against divisional opponents. Moreover, all of those contests come against the Rangers and Astros.
Granted, the first few games didn’t go to plan, but Seattle controls their own destiny with seven left against teams ahead of them in the standings. More importantly, all those contests come at home, where the M’s are 41-33.
Houston, We Have a Problem
As it stands, the Astros are on the struggle bus.
Houston’s woes go back much further than the walloping they took from the Royals this weekend. All told, the Astros have dropped nine of their past 12, with most of those losses coming versus KC and the Oakland Athletics.
Pitching has been the biggest culprit, but the Astros have also failed to deliver offensively.
Over the past two weeks, Astros pitchers have combined for a 4.51 ERA, ranking 19th in the bigs. Likewise, their offensive output has sputtered. Across the same sample, Houston has scored 63 runs, ranking in the bottom half of the MLB.
The gambling price doesn’t reflect it, but the Mariners will have the final say in which AL West teams make the playoffs. Seattle is priced as +1000 longshots to emerge from the AL West rubble, but they have a few advantages over their competitors.
Houston needs to reverse course on an end-of-season slump, while the Rangers are a forgettable 37-37 as the road team. That leaves the M’s to take care of business within their friendly confines over the season’s final week.
Circumstance meets opportunity for Seattle, and bettors can take advantage. The Mariners could surprise everyone en route to a stunning AL West pennant.