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Seattle Mariners in Tie With Red Sox for Wild Card

Paul Sewald

Paul Sewald

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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With three games left in the regular season, the Seattle Mariners are angling for their first postseason berth since 2001. The Orioles defeated the Red Sox on Thursday night, forcing a tie between the Mariners and Red Sox for the second American League Wild Card spot. Though the Mariners had an off-day on Thursday night, their efforts as of late should not go unnoticed: they finished a four-game sweep of the Athletics on Wednesday night, eliminating them from contention. With an 89-70 record, the Mariners are 9-1 in their last 10 games played.

Mitch Haniger has provided some torrential offense, as he’s clobbered three homers in the last two games, contributing to a whopping 38 round-trippers for the year. Though Jarred Kelenic has mostly struggled in his rookie season, he’s having a fantastic September, carrying an .858 OPS over 106 plate appearances including seven homers, five doubles, one triple, 18 runs scored, 18 RBI and three steals.

The Mariners have shown some fantastic resiliency over the past few months, in the form of come-from-behind wins: 41 of their 89 wins were a result of rallies. As of Thursday night, FanGraphs has pushed the Mariners playoff odds up to 29.6%; it sat at 2.2% five days ago, on September 25. Though their run differential still stands at -48, a quick temperature check of the Mariners’ fan base suggests that the fun differential is at an all-time high.

With the Yankees’ win over the Blue Jays on Thursday, they hold the top American League Wild Card playoff spot, with a two-game advantage over the Red Sox and Mariners, as the Yankees will begin their final series against the Rays on Friday. The Mariners will open their final series versus the Angels, and the Red Sox will finish their season by facing the Nationals. The Blue Jays, who are a game behind the Mariners and Red Sox, will close out the year versus the Orioles.[[ad:athena]]

The postseason is nearly upon us, as the month of September draws to a close. A few races were also locked down on Thursday night: the Braves sealed their fourth straight National League East title, and the Astros earned their fourth American League West crown in five years.

Pitchers with an EDGE

Justin Steele vs. Pirates

7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 25% CSW

The rookie southpaw looked strong in his final start of the regular season, a promising sign for him to possibly enter the Cubs’ rotation in 2022. This was not only Steele’s longest start in the big leagues, but also his best. He was able to induce eight swings-and-misses, contributing to a 9-0 win over the Pirates.

Alexander Wells vs. Red Sox

6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 25% CSW

Wells worked his way through a tough Red Sox lineup, despite plenty of hard contact being made. His secondary pitches, especially the curveball, looked fantastic: six called strikes contributed to a 35% CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) on that pitch alone.

Ian Anderson vs. Phillies

6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 23% CSW

Anderson’s last start of the regular season was marred only by a two-run homer by Andrew McCutchen in the seventh inning. Though he did not miss a ton of bats in this start (and overall this season), he finishes the year with an acceptable 3.58 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 124/53 K/BB ratio across 128 1/3 innings (24 starts).

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Hitters with an EDGE

Aaron Judge vs. Blue Jays

2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI

Two solo shots in the first and sixth inning off Robbie Ray contributed to a fantastic showing at the plate. Judge has now gone deep 10 times across 27 games since September 1.

Corey Seager vs. Padres

3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 HR

A two homer night for Seager, who went back-to-back with Mookie Betts in the first inning off Vince Velasquez. He then took Austin Adams deep in the seventh, for another solo shot.

Fernando Tatis, Jr. vs. Dodgers

1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

Tatis clobbered a two-run shot in the fifth inning, for his 42nd homer of the year. Those two runs would be most of San Diego’s offense, as they were outscored by the Dodgers, 8-3.

Closing Time

Michael Fulmer vs. Twins

1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K (12th save)

Fulmer threw 22 pitches in the ninth inning for the Tigers -- and though he gave up a leadoff double to Byron Buxton and a walk to Josh Donaldson, he was able to get Max Kepler to fly out on 3-2, locking down his 12th save.

Will Smith vs. Phillies

1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (37th save)

Smith threw eight pitches for this three-out save, and issued strikeouts to Andrew McCutchen and Ronald Torreyes to lock down the win, and Atlanta’s fourth straight NL East title.

Ryan Pressly vs. Rays

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K (26th save)

A leadoff walk was issued to Randy Arozarena, but a double play followed by a groundout quickly ended the ballgame. Pressly has now converted 26 out of 28 save opportunities.

Joe Barlow vs. Angels

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (11th save)

Barlow threw nine pitches, six of them for strikes, to quickly finish off the Angels. He’s converted 11 out of 12 possible save opportunities.

Luis Garcia vs. Brewers

2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (2nd save)

A short save situation for the 34-year-old right hander, consisting of two swift strikeouts. Giovanny Gallegos is the Cardinals’ primary closer, but Garcia has emerged as a reliable alternative.

Priority Pickup

Paul Sewald - CP - Seattle Mariners - Available in 49% of Yahoo Leagues

If you’ve noticed any petitions from Seattleites to change Seward Park’s name to Sewald Park, there’s a pretty good reason. The 31-year-old reliever, who was non-tendered by the Mets with a 5.50 career ERA, has stepped nicely into the closer’s role for the Mariners. Seattle’s off-day on Thursday gives Sewald the ability to nab a save or two in Seattle’s three remaining games versus the Angels. Sewald has converted 11 out of 15 save opportunities, three of those saves coming from his last seven appearances. He hasn’t blown a save since September 7, and has a 2.73 ERA, 1.001 WHIP, and 99 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings pitched over 60 appearances.

Friday’s Pitching Matchup of the Week

Shane McClanahan (10-6, 3.44 ERA, 138 K, 1.28 WHIP) vs. Nestor Cortes (2-2, 2.85 ERA, 98 K, 1.08 WHIP)

Though the Yankees are two games ahead of the Red Sox and Mariners for the first AL Wild Card spot, anything is possible. The Yankees will need a strong start out of Cortes; the lefty has had a strong 2021 campaign, working to a 2.85 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 88 innings pitched over 21 appearances (13 starts) this season. The Rays have the AL East locked down, but McClanahan makes his final start of the year on Friday, carrying in a 3.44 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 138/37 K/BB ratio over 120 1/3 innings pitched.

American League Quick Hits

Richard Lovelady underwent Tommy John surgery this week...Yandy Diaz (ribs) remained out of the Rays’ starting lineup on Thursday. ... Taylor Ward (abductor) won’t play in the weekend series against the Mariners. ... Lourdes Gurriel was out of the lineup Thursday due to soreness in his right hand. ... Yankees placed INF Luke Voit on the 10-day injured list with a left knee inflammation. ... Joey Gallo (forearm) was not in the lineup on Thursday against the Blue Jays. ... Royals placed LHP Daniel Lynch on the 10-day injured list with a right hand contusion. ... Zack Greinke (neck) fired two scoreless innings for Triple-A Sugar Land in a rehab start on Thursday. ... DJ LeMahieu left Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays with right hip soreness.

National League Quick Hits

LaMonte Wade was lifted from the Giants’ win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday due to a slight knee issue. ... Gavin Lux (neck) was not in the lineup on Thursday against the Padres. ... Yadier Molina (shoulder) remained out of the Cardinals’ lineup on Thursday...Edmundo Sosa (wrist) is sitting again Thursday versus the Brewers. ... Robert Gsellman (lat) could make an appearance on Sunday for the Mets. ... Cubs placed Austin Romine on the injured list. ... Giants placed LHP Tony Watson on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder strain. ... Padres placed RHP Yu Darvish on he 10-day injured list with a hip impingement. ... Jesus Sánchez left Thursday’s game with right hamstring tightness. ... Edward Cabrera left Thursday’s start against the Mets due to a blister on his right middle finger...David Bote left Thursday’s game against the Pirates with a left shoulder issue. ... Scott Kazmir left Thursday’s start against the Diamondbacks with an apparent injury.