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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners, April 25-27, 2016

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Who is ready for some Astros baseball after dark?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros showed some life against the Boston Red Sox, but at the same time showed the same problems that the team been having seen the start of the season. Houston is dead last in batting average (.185) with runners in scoring position. The Astros starting rotation has the fifth-worst ERA in baseball at 5.31. The bottom third of the lineup isn't hitting and the key relievers are struggling.

What to do? Hit the panic button? Let it shake itself out? The Astros will have to likely go with the latter because as much as this team is looking to win. It's not in the business of eating contracts. Thus, the Scott Feldman and Doug Fister's of Astroland will have to find a spot on this roster. This point, one they seem descended to go to the bullpen for the time being.

The only thing left to do is right the ship or be prepared to down with it. The Astros head to Seattle for another addition of Astros After Dark with all three games starting at 9 p.m. central time. Houston has some success against the Mariners since joining the AL West -- 30-27 over the past three years. On top of that, they miss Felix Hernandez. So everything is looking up, right?

Starting pitching

Monday: RHP Doug Fister (1-2, 5.94 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (1-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
Tuesday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.71 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) vs. RHP Nathan Karns (1-1, 5.28 ERA, 1.70 WHIP)
Wedsday: RHP Collin McHugh (1-3, 7.56 ERA, 2.10 WHIP) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (0-2, 3.81 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)

Any time the Astros have Dallas Keuchel on the mound without the other team's ace countering him, the Astros have the advantage in the series. I would have said the same thing during the Rangers' series but it didn't work out that way for the Astros.

The Astros start out with a former Mariners on the mound in game one. Doug Fister was the lone bright spot for the Astros during the Rangers series -- allowing two earned runs over six innings. In his career, Fister is 10-16 with a 3.30 ERA in 37 appearances (36 starts) at Safeco Field.

Current Mariners are batting .238 (19x80) against Fister with a .239 BABIP, 4.763 FIP, 7.87 K%, and 7.00 BB%.

Countering Fister is an Astros killer, Taijuan Walker. Walker is 4-1 with a 4.40 ERA in eight starts. He was stellar in his first few starts against Houston but has leveled off. He has started the season strong with a 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA in three starts.

Current Astros are batting .259 (29x112) with .316 BABIP, 4.481 FIP, 24.22 K%, and 9.00 BB%.

Nathan Karns got a tough draw in game two with Keuchel on the mound. Karns as struggled to start the season with a 1-1 record and 5.28 ERA in three starts.

Collin McHugh will have to do better than allowing 10 hits in his start -- he has reached that mark in his last two starts. McHugh face Hisashi Iwakuma, who is 4-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 10 starts against the Astros in his career.

Relief pitching

It's the same old, same old with the Astors Luke Gregerson has been sharp. Ken Giles has struggled. Chris Devenski has been a ray of sunshine, allowing just one run over 13 2/3 innings in the mop up role. The Astros added Micheal Feliz back to the roster to give them one more are in the bullpen.

Seattle has the fifth-best bullpen ERA in baseball at 2.63 ERA. It helps when you have pitched the eight-fewest relief inning in baseball. Former Marlin Steve Cishek is the closer for the Mariners. He is 1-1 with four saves in eight appearances this season.

Lineup

Colby Rasmus has found another gear for the Astros. He was awarded the AL Player of the Week award after batting .316 (6x19) with four home runs and 10 RBIs. Rasmus at the moment is the only consistent hitter driving in runs for the Astros.

Jose Altuve would be included in the group but it can be tough to drive in runs in the leadoff spot. Altuve has done his part batting .320 (8x25) with four doubles and a home run. Carlos Correa is batting .348 (8x23) with two doubles in his last six games.

The bottom of the lineup is still struggling, Jason Castro, Carlos Gomez, and Evan Gattis, are still batting under .200 forth season.

Adam Lind has been leading the M's with the bat this past week, he is batting .381 (8x21) with a double and an RBI. Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager each has two home runs over the past week. Robinson Cano is batting .208 over his last 24 at-bats.

Prediction

Houston wins two-of-three because my mental state needs it.