Houston Astros (1-0) vs. Seattle Mariners (0-1), April 4, 2017, 7:10 PM CT
RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (6-5, 3.22 ERA, 1.54 WHIP in 2016) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma(16-12, 4.12 ERA, 1.33 WHIP in 2016)
After a stellar and resurgent Opening Day performance by Dallas Keuchel, his younger counterpart who many consider the best hurler on the roster- Lance McCullers- will take the mound tonight.
Having posted identical 3.22 ERAs with elite strikeout rates in two truncated big league seasons thus far, there is chatter surrounding McCullers as a possible Cy Young dark horse in 2017. The young righty has made significant strides with his command and control as well as his changeup, with health being the only missing piece at this point at time.
Mariners #2 Hisashi Iwakuma and his lively arsenal will oppose McCullers, and will bring a more finesse-heavy game than his opponent. Iwakuma had a more difficult time keeping the ball on the ground last season and struggled as a result, but still managed to throw 199 innings and is capable of dominating deep into games when he has his best stuff.
The Astros lineup will be largely similar to last night’s, with the exception of Marwin Gonzalez replacing Yuli Gurriel at first base and batting 9th. The Mariners have turned in an identical lineup card to game one with the exception of the pitcher spot.
Key Matchup: Jose Altuve vs. Hisashi Iwakuma
Opening Day starter Felix Hernandez was able to fan Altuve in his first two at-bats of the season, but Iwakuma brings less dynamic stuff to the table. The Astros franchise player should see the ball a bit better tonight and will look to post his first of many big games of the season- if he is able to do so the Mariners will be in for an uphill battle. Altuve has a career .421 average and 7 extra base hits in 38 at-bats against Iwakuma.