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Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners, July 15-17, 2016

Houston opens the second half of the Major League season in Seattle.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (48-41) vs. Seattle Mariners (45-44), July 15-17, 2016

The Houston Astros have been on of the hottest teams in baseball heading into the All-Star Break. Houston gets a chance to show that May and June were no flukes as the Astros open up a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners fighting for their lives in the AL West after leading the division at one time and dropping to third place with a 45-44 record. The team directly ahead of them in the standings is the Astros, thus Houston can put the M's further behind the eight ball or open the door a little wider for hope in Seattle.

Starting pitching

Friday: RHP Doug Fister (8-6, 3.55 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) vs. LHP James Paxton (2-3, 3.91 ERA, 1.59 WHIP)
Saturday: RHP Lance McCullers (4-3, 3.79 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (9-6, 4.25 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Sunday: RHP Collin McHugh (5-6, 4.50 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (3-3, 2.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

Former Mariner Doug Fister gets the first start post all-star break for the Astros. Fister at times has been the Astros' best pitcher this season. He was 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five June starts. The cracks have started to show as he has given up seven runs over 12 2/3 innings in two July starts. He was excellent in his last outing, allowing just two runs on three hits and three walks over eight innings against the Athletics on July 7.

He is making his third start against the Mariners this season, he is 1-1 with five earned runs allowed over 12 1/3 innings in his previous starts. In his career, Fister is 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in five starts and he is 10-17 with a 3.33 ERA in 38 games (37 starts) at Safeco Field.

Current Mariners are batting .230 (29x126) against Fister with a .234 BABIP, 5.19 FIP, 10.6 K%, and a 9.9 BB%.

James Paxton counters Fister for the Mariners. Paxton is coming into his start on a high, he is 1-0 with 3.29 ERA in two July starts. Paxton has allowed five earned runs over 13 2/3 innings -- including just two runs over eight innings against the Royals on July 7.

He is making his first start against the Astros in 2016. In one career start against Houston, he allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. Paxton is 8-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 18 career starts at Safeco Field.

Current Astros are batting .263 (5x19) against Paxton with a .313 BABIP, 14.3 K%, 9.5 BB% and a 3.20 FIP.

Lance McCullers takes the ball in game two. In his second-to-last start, McCullers faced the Mariners, he struck out 10 in seven innings. Hisashi Iwakuma is coming off a solid start against the Royals, in which he allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings on July 8.

Collin McHugh has been solid for the Astros over his last seven games, he is 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA. But McHugh has shown he has another gear in the second half of the season -- he is 17-10 with a 3.87 in 37 second half games (33 starts).

Mike Montgomery was named the starter on Friday for Sunday's game. He is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in three July starts for the Mariners.

Lineup

The Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena is batting .352 (25x71) with five home runs and 18 RBIs in his last 22 games. Jose Altuve is batting .337 (30x89) with four home runs and 13 RBIs in his last 23 games.  Carlos Correa is batting .281 (25x89) with six home runs and 23 RBIs over his last 23 games.

Robinson Cano is batting .356 (36x101) with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last 25 games. Seth Smith is batting .333 (22x66) with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 20 games. Kyle Seager is batting .302 (29x96) with six home runs and 17 RBIs.

Prediction

Astros win two of three. The Mariners pitching staff leaves me wanting.

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