We’re just about set to see the Mariners take on the Blue Jays in the Battle of the Rebuilding Plans Part II this afternoon. In some other news more pertinent to actual playoff contention, the tentative 2013 schedule was released by MLB and the Mariners today and there’s some early good news in it.
Actually, there’s good news sprinkled throughout the sked and it’s called: the Houston Astros.
The Mariners waste no time welcoming the biggest patsy in baseball to the American League West by playing host to them in the April 8 home opener at Safeco Field.
For those unaware, the Astros entered today with a 45-97 record and are currently on-pace for a 111-loss season. But wait, it gets better.
The Astros were actually a .384 team in the first half. Since the break, they’ve played .214 ball, which gets you 127 losses in a season. And that’s in the NL.
Coming to the AL West, we could be about to witness baseball’s first 130-loss ballclub.
And the Mariners will have that lump of meat to gnaw on 19 times next season.
So, yeah, when we talk about some playoff race advantages some teams might have this year down the stretch because of soft schedules, imagine what 19 games against the Astros can do for Seattle’s hopes next season. This isn’t meant to be funny. I’m being serious, here.
Photo Credit: AP
Sure, all of the other AL West teams will have that advantage as well. But for the forseeable future, the Mariners will be one of four teams in the AL that will enjoy the exclusive advantage of playing 19 times against a club entirely capable of losing 130 games overall.
That indeed is an advantage when you’re looking at wild-card races.
All the M’s would have to do is go, say, 15-4 against Houston, then play 10 games under .500 versus everbody else and finish with 83 wins. Heck, the M’s have already shown in this second half that they are capable of taking down bad teams with impunity.
Second-wild card? Not an impossibility.
Of course, the M’s will still have to beat out one of Oakland, or the Angels or the Rangers. Not like MLB is just going to hand Seattle a playoff spot.
But anyway, something to keep in mind. The Mariners never did really take advantage of playing in baseball’s only four-team division. But they sure could make up for that in a hurry with a whole new type of advantage starting next year.
The rest of the schedule is a little different because the interleague games are now sprinkled throughout the season instead of just bunched up mid-summer. Not sure I like that part of it, given how it will throw teams off their normal routines and force them to let their pitchers hit and sit DH guys at critical times instead of just one mid-summer period. But what can you do? I’m not the one in charge of things.
Seattle takes on NL Central opponents next year for those home-and-home series. That used to be real good news because then you’d get the Pirates and Astros together back when they were both, well, their usual selves.
But the Pirates got better this year. So, that’s not going to be the walkover it once was. Still, 19 games against Houston is a fair M’s tradeoff for having to play a handful against an improving Pirates team.
The season opens April 1 in…Oakland, where else? Same place the Mariners have opened their schedule on this side of the Pacific the past three years running.