We’re into the final week of the MLB season, and the race for the AL wild card couldn’t be any hotter. After sweeping the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees have jumped into first place, pushing Boston to the brink of elimination from the race in second place.
Toronto is hot on Boston’s tail, with these two teams right behind. Believe it or not, despite the dominance of the A’s of late and all year long, the Mariners are just a game in front of Oakland in the standings.
Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners
Monday, September 27, 2021 – 10:10 PM EDT at T-Mobile Park
Oakland Roaring Back Into the Race
Well, that was weird. Just when it appeared the A’s were dead and buried following a sweep at the hands of the Mariners in Oakland, they came back with a sweep of their own against the Houston Astros. Now, the A’s are positioned a bit better in the wild-card race with an outside shot of making a late run if the Red Sox and Blue Jays falter.
As it stands right now, Oakland is three games back in the race, making their elimination number four games. Each loss, or win by a team ahead of it, will cause this number to fall.
When it hits zero, the A’s will no longer have a chance to play into mid-October. While there is a long way to go, there’s still a lot for the A’s to play for here, considering they are fortunate enough to be playing three more against the Mariners, and they also did buy up at the trade deadline.
Despite the wins, the A’s currently have a 94 wRC+ over the last week, which grades them out as a poor offense. They have maintained a high walk rate at 10.7%, but the strikeouts have shot up to 23.3% for this team.
More concerning, the ISO has dropped to .128. Oakland has become less disciplined at the plate and its power hitting has completely disappeared.
Cole Irvin will toe the rubber for the A’s on Monday, and he carries a 3.99 ERA into this start with a chance to improve that number against a lefty-averse Mariners lineup.
While his ERA did come up slightly in his last outing against the Mariners last week, he did a decent enough job in allowing three runs on seven hits over five innings. He wasn’t the issue, and the A's are going to need to rely on their bats this week anyhow.
A Golden Opportunity
While it’s going to be tough for the Mariners to get into the postseason, they’re technically still positioned a lot better than the A’s are. They have a huge opportunity in front of them this week with three at home against the Mariners.
Seattle can all but officially knock the A’s out of the race, dropping their elimination number to just one, cementing its floor as fourth in the wild-card standings. With the red-hot Yankees playing the Blue Jays this week, the Mariners could easily hop the Blue Jays, who are just a game in front of them, though making up the two games on Boston with Baltimore and Washington coming up on its schedule could be difficult.
Still, Seattle has a clear path to the playoffs, and it begins on Monday with taking care of business against the A’s, a team which it has gone 12-4 against this season.
Chris Flexen will look to keep it up and put together another masterful performance against the A’s as he did last week. The former MLB castoff spun seven innings of one-run ball in Oakland, allowing three hits and a couple of walks and striking out eight.
Seattle has struggled against lefties all year long, but it has found success in recent weeks. One man who fell victim to the Mariners’ bats was Cole Irvin, who allowed far too many baserunners to expect a win last time out. While he could have pitched worse, that kind of performance could put Oakland in a tough spot with Flexen going for the Mariners.
For my MLB pick, I expect a repeat of last week and have learned not to fade this Mariners team.
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