The Los Angeles Angels’ tumultuous and difficult 2021 season is winding to a close. After a six-game losing streak, the Angels need to go 8-1 in their final nine games to avoid finishing the season below .500.
To start that, they’ll host the Seattle Mariners for their final home series of the season. And while wins and losses certainly don’t mean much for the Angels at this point, they mean everything for the Mariners, who are still deep in the fight for a Wild Card spot.
The Angels have an opportunity to effectively end the Mariners season with a couple of wins in Anaheim, and they’ll have some of their most trusted starters on the mound to do it.
Like the Angels, the Mariners have nine games remaining in their schedule. Where they differ is the importance of those nine games. Seattle sits just 2.0 games back of the New York Yankees for the second Wild Card spot, with only the Toronto Blue Jays ahead of them in the standings.
With the Yankees playing the rival Boston Red Sox this weekend — almost assuring they’ll lose 1-2 games — the Mariners have an opportunity to gain some ground. Even if their playoff bid fails, it’s impressive that the Mariners are even at this point in the first place.
On Opening Day, the Mariners were projected to finish 73-89 according to FiveThirtyEight, fourth in the AL West. Today, they’re projected to finish 89-73, a 16-game difference. However, they still have some long odds to overcome, as FiveThirtyEight gives them just an 8% chance to leapfrog the Blue Jays and Yankees.
They certainly helped their case by completing a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics, who at one point felt like a lock to be a Wild Card team. The Mariners have been the quintessential scrappy underdogs all year long, and that could continue against the Angels, a team they are 8-5 against this season.
With every story line favoring the Mariners and their cinderella run to be in a position to make the playoffs, the Angels have a legitimate opportunity to play spoiler. They already did this a couple weeks ago, when they split a two-game set with the San Diego Padres.
As mentioned previously, this will be their best chance to do it, as their most trusted starters take the mound. Jose Suarez, Jaime Barria, and Shohei Ohtani will all pitch in Anaheim this weekend, with the latter getting perhaps his final start of the season in his quest for 10 wins.
The Angels are coming off a difficult stretch against the AL West. In seven games against the Athletics and Houston Astros, they went just 1-6. Their lone win came on Thursday night after six consecutive losses. The Angels were outscored 42-19 over the seven games.
By this point, it’s well-known that wins are not the main goal of this season.. However, wins are important for the confidence of the young players that have legitimate hopes to be on a contending Angels team in 2022.
Angels (73-80) vs. Mariners (84-69)
Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California
Probable Pitching Matchups: