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Both the Seattle Mariners & Cleveland Guardians have  cause for optimism
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What next for the Seattle Mariners & Cleveland Guardians?

So what is next for the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Guardians following their losses in the American League Division Series?

We take a look at their prospects going forward. 

Mariners pleased with their lot

It was an amazing achievement by the Seattle Mariners to reach their first postseason since 2001. They had given an inkling that something was building in 2021 when a late push almost gave them a place in the playoffs, but for a faltering week they would have reached a one-off Wild Card game. 

However, it was a three-game Wild Card space that the Mariners were after and they managed to achieve that. Despite in June being 29-39 in June, but had a 14-game winning streak to push for the postseason. 

The Mariners won 90 games in the regular season and finished second in the American League West Division. Seattle then faced the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game Wild Card series but they managed to sweep them in two, both at Rogers Centre in Toronto. 

Sadly, it wasn't to be in the Division series against their Divisional rivals and 1/1 World Series favourites, the Houston Astros. A three-game sweep by Houston meant that Seattle had reached their peak for this season, maybe a step too far for 2022. 

It was an epic third game of the series as the Mariners pushed the Astros to their limit as the overall game went six hours and 22 minutes, the longest playoff game in Mariners' history and tied for the longest postseason game in baseball history. 

Speaking to The Athletic following the game, first baseman Ty France said: "I think all of us are extremely proud of all we've accomplished. Twenty-one years is a long time. We played three great games against these guys (Houston). It could have easily gone the other way."

The Mariners head into the offseason knowing that the 2023 group will look much like the 2022 team. Seattle will likely move on from free agents Adam Frazier and Carlos Santana. There may be offers for pitcher Matthew Boyd and outfielder Mitch Haniger. 

Seattle needs more offense, they ranked 28th in the big leagues with a .230 avg as a team and they scored one or fewer runs in a game 29 times (including 12 shutouts). 

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Guardians sensing something special

The Guardians had a tremendous season under manager Terry Francona. This young energetic side performed well down the stretch to pull away from the Minnesota Twins and a late surge from the Chicago White Sox to win the American League Central Division for the fourth time in seven seasons. 

Catcher Austin Hedges is the only free agent on the roster and you would imagine as a leader in the clubhouse he'll get an offer from the Guardians. Hedges has been vital in giving information to the likes of Steven Kwan, Josh Naylor and Andres Gimenez. 

The roster will require some tweaks as in the end they were beaten by the New York Yankees power hitters in game five. The Guardians have the trade and financial acumen to accomplish that with such a young staff and savings made in trades. 

The power deficit left Cleveland feeling a little short with disappointment and feeling satisfied with their season but would like to see improvements made in the offseason. All season, the Guardians played small ball. They had to play mistake-free baseball, deliver hits and pitch at a consistently high level. 

Hedges spoke to and said: "Our plan was to shock the world through the whole thing. Winning the Division was the first part. Wild-Card round. Put ourselves in a position to beat the Yankees. And we wanted to win the World Series, but that's a good Yankees team. The cool thing is, now we have a bunch of dudes with a ton of play-off experience in the most hostile environment you could imagine.

"This can't be just a good story this year. We need to take this and go because I think we have a chance to have something really special. Watch out for the Guards next year."

Time will tell for Hedges' optimism, however they are nicknamed the "Guardiac Kids" and they managed to reach the postseason. That should build optimism in the clubhouse. Led by Kwan plus Oscar Gonzalez, Cleveland should make the postseason again. 

The starting pitching was a bit shaky at the start of the season, however Cleveland had three tremendous pitchers in Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill to go forward for next season. Additions to the rotation of above-average pitchers would be a great call, however overall, they need a power bat in the offseason which is where they fell short in the playoffs.

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