The Los Angeles Angels will not be participating in the postseason for the seventh consecutive campaign. However, the Angels get a chance to witness a playoff atmosphere as they take on the Seattle Mariners in the thick of a Wild Card run.
The American League Wild Card race is about as tight as a playoff fight gets. The New York Yankees currently hold a 2.0-game advantage for the first spot, but face the Tampa Bay Rays in their final three games. The Boston Red Sox and Mariners are in a tie for the second spot, with the Red Sox facing the Washington Nationals and the Mariners facing the Angels.
Finally, the Toronto Blue Jays are just one game back of the Red Sox and Mariners, but they play the Baltimore Orioles in their weekend set. So not only could the Mariners secure or lose a playoff spot in the next three games, they could find themselves in a 2-4 team tie for the two Wild Card positions.
This makes it extra important for the Angels to get out of their recent AL West slump to give the final weekend an added layer of intrigue.
Statistically speaking, very few can comprehend exactly how the Mariners got here. They have a minus-48 run differential, similar to the 76-83 Detroit Tigers and the 73-85 Colorado Rockies. They also have one of the worst offenses in baseball, ranking 30th in batting average, 26th in OPS, and 22nd in runs scored.
And yet, here they are with a chance to reach 90 wins on the season and get to the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Only the Angels — and a few other results — stand in their way.
They’ve won 10 of their last 11 games, including going 6-0 against the Oakland Athletics to end their playoff hopes. Their only loss since Sep. 18 came against the Angels last weekend in a 14-1 blowout.
With all four teams in the Wild Card race playing a completely different team, and all four of those opponents having nothing to play for except for being a spoiler, it makes the next three days all the more intriguing.
The Angels already took the suspense out of the most fascinating question of the weekend when they announced that Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season. He’ll be in the lineup for all three games presumably, but will not take the mound.
This means that Jose Suarez figures to be the only veteran pitcher the Angels will throw at the Mariners this weekend. In fact, the season finale starter is currently a TBD for L.A.
It’s already been decided that the Angels will finish below .500, meaning the only motivation for this weekend — beyond the individual numbers of Ohtani and other young players — is stopping the Mariners from making the playoffs.
The Angels took one of three against Seattle last weekend, and doing so again may be all they need to do to keep them out. However, both teams will be closely watching the Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays throughout the weekend.
Angels (75-84) vs. Mariners (89-70)
T-Mobile Park, Seattle, Washington
Probable Pitching Matchups: