Series Preview: Astros vs. Mariners, May 2-4, 2014

Otto Greule Jr

The Astros and Mariners reignite their battle for the basement.

Houston Astros (9-19) vs. Seattle Mariners (12-14)

The king Felix, dressed in teal (or as google tells it northwest green), brings his army led by his champion, Robinson Cano to Houston. The Mariners and Astros continue their struggle for the basement of the American League West. Both teams were in very similar situations this time last year. The addition to both lineups have not barred fruit yet.

Long live the King?

The Mariners are coming to Houston after sweeping a rain-shortened two-game series with the Yankees. They outscored the Yankees 10-4.

The Astros hand the former Cy-Young award winner his only loss this season in their previous meeting with Felix Hernandez. The Astros put up six runs on the board, but only two runs were earned on King Felix. Away from spacious SafeCo field, Hernandez has been lights out - 3GS, 1.69 ERA, 3 BB, 28 K, 0.80 WHIP.

Kyle Seager has been everything for the Mariners offense this past week, posting a 1.279 in his last 20 at-bats and a .792 in has last 80. Three of his last eight hits have been home runs. Dustin Ackley had arguably his best week of the 2014 season coming into this week, hitting .400 (4-10) with 3 runs scored and an run batted in.

Robinson Cano has begun to warm up this season - batting .350 (7-20), 3 2B, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SB over his last five games. Michael Saunders, the odd man out in the outfield, has made the most of his chances in the M's last five games. He has a 1.434 OPS in five games, 4 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

Where do we go now?

The Astros offense appears to be off life support for good at one point, and then they get blanked by Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals. That's baseball for you. Houston was one inning away from sweeping the M's in Seattle in their last series together. The Mariners, let me clarify Kyle Seager, dismantled Josh Fields in that final inning to steal a game. As a result, Bo Porter has said Josh Fields won't be put into high leverage situations.

Jonathan Villar is knocking the cover of the ball in the nine-hole with a 1.212 OPS in his last four games. Three of his last 12 hits have gone for extra bases.  Jesus Guzman has done well in his last five games (5-for-13, 1 2B), and will be in the lineup against Felix Hernandez.

Jose Altuve, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Castro have been the catalysts for the Astros offense. Altuve and Fowler lead the team in runs scored with 3 in the team's last five games, and the Fowler leads the team with four runs batted in. Chris Carter was 3-for-7 with two home runs against Mariners' pitching in the last series in Seattle, can he finally translate that to the home ballpark?

George Springer has struggled since being called up to the majors, hitting .182 (10-55), 1 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 19 SO, 1 SB. He has 4 hits in his last 12 at-bats. He has shown signs of struggling at every level through the minors and has come around each time. The major leagues will be no different.

Pitching Matchups

RHP Brad Peacock (0-2, 5.95 ERA, 1.98 WHIP) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (3-1, 2.40 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)

Can the Astros repeat their six run (2 ER) performance against King Felix in their first meeting? I don't think the Astros can hope for another failed fielder's choice that gave them extra out in Seattle and lead to the Astros' four-run inning. He held the Rangers to three runs on five hits over six inning in his last start.

The "P" has been freed. Brad Peacock is making his third start for the Astros. Both of his previous starts this season were five innings long against the Athletics - two runs on five hits and five runs on five hits. The only big difference between the two starts were the number of walks - three in the first and six in the second.

LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 3.56 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP)

Iwakuma is making his first start of the season after a stint on the disabled list with a finger strain. He posted a 2.66 ERA and a 4.40 K/BB rate in 219 2/3 innings of work last season.

Dallas Keuchel has pitched lights out in the month of April, posting four straight quality starts to end the month. In his second to last start, he picked up the win against the Mariners (6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO).

RHP Collin McHugh (2-0, 0.59 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Young (1-0, 3.04 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)

The Texas native Chris Young, appears to have finally made the long journey back to baseball. No longer just the explanation of "THAT Chris Young?! Yeah, that Chris Young." He has a 3.32 ERA in 21.2 innings of work as a starter - striking out 11 and walking 14.

McHugh has been compared to the WIzard of Oz and Doctor Who by this site. It's easy to see we're impressed, Mr. McHugh has come out of nowhere - posting a 0.59 ERA and 19 strikeouts in his first two starts.

Predictions

  • Astros will win two of three games this series, yielding to Felix Hernandez in game one.
  • (repeating this till it happens) George Springer will get his first career home run this series

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