Could this be the year? Could this be the year that the Seattle Mariners break baseball's longest playoff drought? The Mariners haven't been to the postseason since their record setting 116 win campaign in 2001 and haven't won more than 88 games since 2003. A revamped lineup, along with some returning stars has many fans believing this may finally be the year the Mariners end the drought.
Top to bottom, the Mariners lineup may be one of the better ones in baseball. They have a dangerous mix of speed, contact and power along with a lineup full of guys who get on base well. It won't be the offense that make or breaks the Mariners though. It'll be their pitching. For years, the Mariners were led by strong pitching, but the offense would always fall short. Lately, it's been the reverse as the Mariners arms have been suspect at times, while their offense has become more potent.
Forget the offense and the rest of the arms though, the focus in regards to pitching will be on one man. That man is the Mariners ace, Felix Hernandez. After being one of baseball's best for several years, Felix struggled the last two years. He fought injuries last year, and in the process posted his highest ERA since 2006 at 3.82. It was the first time since 2010 that Hernandez didn't make the All-Star game, although oddly enough he wound up winning the CY Young in 2010.
King Felix turns 31 later this week, so he's not far on the wrong side of 30, but his numbers have slowly declined the last two seasons. If the Mariners want to make a playoff push, the pressure is going to be on Hernandez. If he pitches like the last two years, the Mariners will likely fall short. If the King retakes his throne though, the Mariners can be a very dangerous team and have a good chance to finally find themselves back in October baseball.