With a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, the Seattle Mariners were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention in 2015. After winning 87 games in 2014, the Mariners were a trendy pick to earn a playoff berth, if not win the AL West in 2015, but it was not to be, as Seattle has faltered to a 75-84 record. Here are some of the key moments that led to this point in Seattle:
Nelson Cruz provides added power to the lineup
Looking to add some lineup protection for Robinson Cano, the Mariners signed outfielder Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $57 million contract prior to the season. Cruz did live up to expectations in 2015, hitting .301/.370/.570 with a team-high 44 home runs, just one behind Chris Davis for the league lead. Whether the 34-year-old can maintain that level of production through his mid-to-late 30s is yet to be seen, however.
Felix Hernandez looks less like a king
One big-name player that did struggle for the Mariners was pitcher Felix Hernandez. The 29-year-old righty has posted a 3.53 ERA in 201⅔ innings this season, his highest ERA since his second full season in 2007. His 3.72 FIP was the highest he has posted since 2008. The 58 walks he has issued are his most since 2011 and his 191 strikeouts are his fewest since 2008. Seattle will need King Felix to be King Felix again if they want to contend in 2016 and beyond.
General manager Jack Zduriencik fired, replaced with Jerry Dipoto
On August 28, the Mariners parted ways with general manager Jack Zduriencik, who had been in the role since 2008. Seattle was 505-595 during Zduriencik's tenure as GM, but the failure in 2015 was the final straw that led to his downfall. After a month-long search, Seattle hired former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto to replace Zduriencik, and he will be the one tasked with leading the Mariners into the future.