The Seattle Mariners are holding onto the slimmest of postseason hopes as they continue a series against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Seattle won the series opener but will have to keep on winning in order to stay alive.
The Mariners begin Friday 8.5 games behind the Oakland A’s for the second wild-card spot. After losing four of their last six games, the Mariners have actually fallen behind the Rays in the wild-card standings. Seattle’s elimination number has dropped to eight games, so hope is alive but it’s incredibly bleak.
The Angels, meanwhile, have nothing left to play for except perhaps avoiding a losing season. After Friday’s loss, the Halos fell one game under .500. However, the Angels have won six of their last eight games, so they have been undeterred by the injuries that have decimated their roster once again. But with a strong finish, the Angels can finish over .500, which would be a nice consolation prize for the season.
James Paxton was originally scheduled to start Friday’s game. However, he’s stayed home in Seattle while suffering from a mild case of pneumonia. Felix Hernandez would have been in line for the start in place of Paxton but he hurt his hamstring last weekend and isn’t fit to take the mound either. As a result, the Mariners will be forced to make Friday a bullpen game with no starter scheduled for the moment.
On the bright side, expanded rosters in September means there is no shortage of arms in the bullpen. The Mariners currently have over a dozen pitchers in their bullpen, making it virtually impossible to guess who might pitch and when. Whichever Seattle relievers get the call will, of course, have to pay special attention to Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Andrelton Simmons. Those three hitters have been scorching hot over the past week while the rest of the Los Angeles lineup has hit a team-wide slump.
If the Shoe Fits
The Angels, meanwhile, have an actual starting pitcher taking the mound on Friday in Matt Shoemaker, who recently returned from the DL. Shoemaker started the third game of the season before being sidelined with a forearm strain for the second straight year. This will be his third start since finally making it back in September. Over those first two starts, he has allowed three runs on nine hits over 10 innings. His performance has been fine but it’s unlikely he’ll last more than five innings.
During his career, Shoemaker has struggled against Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, who are both hitting over .300 with multiple home runs against him. However, he’s fared well against the rest of Seattle’s lineup. The Mariners aren’t exactly clicking on all cylinders offensively right now. Of course, they have the kind of bats that can break out at any time.
I Loathe a Parade
It’s tough to trust a parade of relief pitchers that the Mariners plan on trotting out Friday night. It will give the Angels a lot of different looks, but depth is always an issue when relying on nine innings from a bullpen. If Shoemaker can be solid for five or six innings, the Angels should have a chance to score some runs. Bet on the Angels to beat the Mariners on Friday night.