So the Seattle Mariners … Despite what looked like an offseason pivot toward something resembling a rebuild, they’re now 12-2 as of Wednesday night’s 6-5 win over the Royals. They’ve homered in every game, and they’ve already scored 110 runs. Across MLB, only the Rays have a larger division lead at the moment.
The forward spin, though, is all about what it means for the M’s, the team presently enduring. The Mariners haven’t made the postseason since 2001, when they barged to 116 wins. That brings back to said 12-2 start: Hot sports info forthcoming:
Those other teams are the 2018 Red Sox (won World Series), 2013 Braves (lost NLDS), 2012 Rangers (lost AL Wild Card Game), and the 2003 Giants (lost NLDS). Framed another way, the 12-2 Mariners now need to play just .527 ball the rest of the way to get to 90 wins for the season. They’ve got 148 games left in the regular season. If they can go 78-70 over that span, then that should be enough to earn them at least a spot in the AL Wild Card Game.
So just how much have the Mariners moved the needle by winning 12 of their first 14? Back in the middle of February, the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) tabbed Seattle for 74 wins and a fourth-place finish in the AL West and gave them just a 2.5 percent chance of making the postseason. Now? Per SportsLine simulations, the 12-2 Mariners are now projected for 91 wins (rounded off) and a second-place finish behind the Astros in the AL West. As well, SportsLine right now gives the M’s a 54.3 percent chance of making the playoffs (aside: you can get updated SportsLine playoff odds on our standings page). In the span of 14 games, they went from longshot to coin-flip when it comes to being part of the playoff fray for the first time in 18 years.
Right now, SportsLine is still fairly bullish on the Yankees and Red Sox despite their respective disappointing and horrid starts to the 2019 season. Those two plus the AL East-leading Rays are projected to land between 94 and 95 wins. Seattle’s best hope may be for the Rays to work their way back to earth or for the Red Sox or Yankees to continue vastly undershooting expectations.
Looking ahead, you’ve got two near-term checkpoints on the Seattle schedule. Starting Friday, they host the Astros and Indians for three games apiece. Then starting May 3, they’ll play a 10-game road swing against the Indians, Yankees and Red Sox. When they come out of that on after their game in Boston on May 12, we’ll have a lot more information on where they stand.
No matter how things go over that critical stretch, the Mariners have already elevated themselves from afterthought to playoff threat. The challenge is to weather the forthcoming regression — no, they’re not going to play .857 ball the rest of the way — without realizing the low expectations of this past winter.