Marco Gonzales pitched the Seattle Mariners to an 8-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday (July 29). It was an important win for the Mariners, especially after losing the first two games of the series. The offense bounced back from a rough road trip to score seven runs in the first inning, making the day a bit easier on Gonzales. It also allowed Mariners managers Scott Servais to take him out of the game a little earlier than if it had been a close game.

Is Gonzales the MVP of the Mariners this season?

Against the Angels, Gonzales pitched six innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits.

He improved his record to 12-5 on the year and dropped his ERA to just 3.37. In 21 starts this season, Gonzales has now posted 125 2/3 innings of work. He has 111 strikeouts and an impressive WHIP of just 1.16 in that time. The former Gonzaga standout and last-season acquisition from the St. Louis Cardinals is living up to his potential. The trade has turned into a win for the Mariners.

Mariners still hold a Wild Card spot

The Seattle Mariners entered the All-Star break still holding on to the second Wild Card spot in the American League. And even with the second-half struggles the team has been experiencing, they still have a projected first-round playoff matchup with the New York Yankees. If the Mariners do play well enough to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001, Marco Gonzales is going to deserve a lot of that credit.

James Paxton and Felix Hernandez were supposed to the lead the way for the starting rotation this season, but Paxton has struggled to stay healthy and Hernandez has struggled with consistency. That includes Paxton missing a scheduled start last week. This has afforded Gonzales the opportunity to emerge as the best pitcher in the starting rotation this year.

He might be the second-best pitcher on the staff, based on his performances this year.

Sure, it's easy to predict that Paxton will bounce back, but Gonzales has been a steady and stable component this year. In fact, it's additionally easy to predict that the Mariners might only go as far as the arm of Gonzales can take them this season.

The team could use some help in the starting rotation but has been pretty quiet on the trade front. The question then becomes, just how many innings can Gonzales throw this year? He is already well past his career-high and it is still only July. Can Marco Gonzales pitch the Seattle Mariners right into the postseason? Stay tuned.