It seems like just yesterday that pitchers and catchers were reporting for spring training. But somehow, in a blink of an eye, we are already at the season finale today. Game 162. All games will kick off at roughly 12:00 PM PST so that any teams with something to play for, won’t have their results spoiled before starting their own game. Unlike some of the recent year’s past, there isn’t a lot that is up for grab’s today on the season’s final day.
The American League is completely set with the Houston Astros taking home the top seed, and the New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins as the other two division champs. All three teams won at least a hundred games this year. The wild card came down to a three-horse race for two spots and saw the Cleveland Indians completely implode against the likes of the Chicago White Sox in the season’s final week. The Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays both took advantage of the Indians falling apart, and the two teams will match up in Oakland next week for a one card wild card game with the winner facing the Houston Astros in the ALDS.
In the National League, there is a bit more on the line. While the entire field of teams is set in the NL, the seeding is not. The St. Louis Cardinals enter the day with a one-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central Division title. Both teams have stumbled to the finish line as the Cards have lost four straight, and the Brewers have lost two out of their last three. If the teams end the season tied, they will play a one-game playoff tomorrow to decide the division champs.
The difference between the division and the wild card is huge. The division winner heads straight to the NLDS to face the Atlanta Braves, while the wild card winner will have to play at Washington likely against NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. And the winner of that gets to play the top-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers. Not a route you are going to want to take. With all of this one the line, we finish the season up with a game that on the surface may not “matter” all that much as we head to Seattle where the Mariners host the Oakland Athletics.
The Oakland Athletics are in Seattle Sunday, wrapping up the regular season against the Mariners. The A’s are headed to the playoffs for the second consecutive season and will host the Tampa Bay Rays in a one-game playoff Tuesday. A’s manager Bob Melvin is excited to get his team home and will likely rest many of his regulars today in game 162.
For Seattle, they struggled through year one of what looks to be a multi-year rebuilding process, and this season will end like so many have in Seattle, without a trip to the postseason. That being said, this team is still playing hard, and many of their young players that got their first taste of big-league action this year, have looked promising. The Mariners have reason to be hopeful for the future for the first time in a long time.
Starting for the A’s is Tanner Roark (10-9 4.32 ERA), and for the Mariners it is Justin Dunn (0-0 3.86 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine runs. The A’s are big -170 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 PM PST from T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
The Oakland A’s want to get out of Seattle as quickly as they can today. Don’t be shocked at all, if the team that takes the field today looks nothing like the team that has been playing most of the year. Oakland should be resting several of their best guys, and as Roark likely wouldn’t pitch until the end of the NLDS, or maybe even not at all, as he could end up in the bullpen for the playoffs, he might end up pitching a while today to rest the bullpen.
Roark seems to be the odd man out of the A’s playoff rotation as Sean Manaea has recently returned and looked great for Oakland, and Roark has really struggled down the stretch. In his last three starts, Roark has been pretty terrible as he has pitched just thirteen and two-thirds of an inning and has gotten hammered for fourteen runs. With the last two of those starts coming against bad teams, the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals. So, while the Mariners bats have been awfully cold as of late, they should be able to find some success against Roark today.
Justin Dunn is making his fourth ever major league appearances tonight, and you know he is going to be playing hard as he is trying to earn a spot on next year’s squad. Dunn joined this Mariners team as a September call-up, and after allowing two runs in his first appearance, he has tossed four shutout innings in his last two games. One big issue for Dunn has been his command as he already has eight walks this season compared to just two strikeouts. He will need to be much better tonight if he wants to knock off the A’s.
The A’s are the much better team in this matchup. I am not sure you could even argue the other side of that. But in a game that means absolutely nothing to the A’s, and should mean at least something to Seattle, it is their final home game of the season, I am surprised to see Oakland as such big favorites. The Mariners have shown a lot of heart and emotion in this series. Between giving King Felix a proper send-off as he ends his fifteen-year career with the Mariners, or playing a tight one-run game last night, this team is still playing hard.
And I think they find a way to win tonight. The A’s already have their bags packed and their eyes set on much bigger and better things. They could care less if they win or lose today, they just want to get home rested and ready for the playoffs. So, I think Seattle finds a way to finish the season on a high note and takes the game. If you have been an avid reader of my daily picks this year, you know I love to back underdogs, especially home underdogs, and I see it fitting that the final pick of the regular season is on a big home dog. Give me the Seattle Mariners as home underdogs today at +160 in game 162!