The Seattle Mariners enter Thursday as a .500 baseball team in the majors. They are 48-48 as teams approach the 100-game mark and the non-waiver trade deadline. There isn't much hope for Seattle to catch the Houston Astros, even as that team deals with losing Carlos Correa for two months. However, Seattle do have a shot to make the wild card game. They join a lot of other teams from that point of view, but the Mariners' chances stand out.

Seattle isn't far back of the Yankees

Currently Seattle is only a game and a half back of the Wild Card. For a team that suffered some injury problems to key players through the first half of the season, that's certainly not a bad spot to be.

The team that the Mariners are currently trying to hunt down is the New York Yankees. Entering Thursday, that team was 1.5 games up on Seattle for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

When it comes to Seattle's first-half injury problems, one player that missed a lot of time was Felix Hernandez. He is scheduled to start tonight when the Mariners face the Yankees, the team that Seattle is chasing (start time 7:10 p.m. PT). The game will open a midseason and four-game series that carries some importance. The Yankees have been sliding of late, but if they can win some games on the road against a Wild Card foe that might help them turn things around. Meanwhile, Seattle, who has won 7 of 10, will be looking to get above .500 and gain on New York.

If they finish this weekend series in playoff positioning, certainly the Mariners' fan base will start taking major notice of this team.

Since returning to the lineup on June 23rd, Hernandez has been effective. He has five starts, three wins in those starts, and only one game where he got shelled for a loss. In his last two starts, he has yielded just one earned run in picking up two wins.

Having missed all starts between April 26th and June 22nd, Hernandez was missed as the Mariners struggled with mediocrity during the opening months of the season.

Hernandez could get to 11+ wins

Currently, Hernandez is 5-3 on the season with an ERA that has been trending south this month. Currently, it is 4.20 following his outstanding performances in his last two games.

If he can get to 13 wins and finish the season with an ERA below 4.00, it won't make for a great season. However, it would make for a strong second half and one that just might help the Mariners get into the one-and-done Wild Card game. Playing in the Wild Card game certainly isn't optimal as it's a coin-toss scenario in a lot of ways. But with the deficit they face against Houston, it's pretty much the most realistic playoff scenario that Seattle currently has.