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Series Preview #35: Houston Astros @ Seattle Mariners

The Astros (67-40, 1st in AL West) start an 8 game road trip to the West Coast with 3 against the Mariners (62-43, 2nd in AL West)

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Recency Bias


The Astros arrive in Seattle riding the worst stretch of their season. Currently on a 4-game losing streak, their longest of the year, they were just swept in a 3+ game series for the first time in 2018 by the 5th place Rangers. The only good thing about that series is fact that Houston will not see the Rangers again this year. This all comes as Altuve heads to the 10-day DL for the first time in his career. It’ wasn’t all doom and gloom this week though, as Gattis would show signs of shaking off a recent mini-slump with 4 hits and 2 walks in 10 ABs against the Rangers. Bregman was able to keep an on base streak going up to 29 games until it was snapped in the final game against Arlington. Beyond that the offense has struggled, with Tony Kemp being the only other active player getting on base at a .300 or higher clip. Springer did post a .773 OPS, but that is mainly due to 1 double and 2 homers in his 5 hits this week. Kyle Tucker also holds a .786 OPS, but that’s in extremely limited at bats and, like Springer, mostly due to an xbh when he smacked a 2 RBI triple against the Rangers.

The bullpen would also fall on its face during the series against Arlington and had a tough loss in Colorado, but did turn in a couple of decent outings as well. McHugh continues to impress out of the pen with an ability to come in for short or long appearances as needed. He did give up the walk-off home run to Charlie Blackmon in Colorado, but also struck out 8 in 4.2 innings of work and is now sporting a dazzling 1.05 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 51.2 innings. Harris would also have a strong week with 2 perfect innings in 2 appearances and 4 strikeouts. Sipp would keep earned runs off his ledger, but did give up 3 hits in his two appearances and allowed 3 inherited runners to score. Those runners were the responsibility of Devo, who has been off his game recently. Those 3 runners were part of the 5 total Rangers he was tagged for in his one appearance this week, where he failed to record an out. Rondón also laid an egg in one of his two innings this week, giving up 4 ER to the Rangers, joining Peacock as the only other reliever to give up multiple earned runs. Newly acquired Ryan Pressly would give up a home run to his first batter as an Astro, but did retire the rest of the side in order after that.

Houston will try and pick itself up off the mat with a chance to extend their lead against a Mariners team that is looking to bounce back itself.


One of the silver linings in the recent poor play of the Astros is that the Mariners have not fared much better, They did manage to gain a game on Houston this week by salvaging the final game of their most recent series against the Angels, but that was their best game. The offense hasn’t been as cold as the Astros’ though, as the games were lost mainly due to some poor pitching by Seattle. Nelson Cruz, Guillermo Heredia, and Mike Zunino have all been spanking the ball while appearing in all 5 of the Mariners’ games this week. Cruz is especially red-hot, slashing .316/.350/.789 with 3 bombs and 1 walk in 19 ABs. Ben Gamel has also shown up this last week, though he has played in a more limited capacity, only starting in 3 games. Dee Gordon also continues with his steady 2018, getting on base regularly but without much power. Denard Span is the only other Mariner to get on base at a decent clip, with the rest of the lineup either appearing in limited capacity or not really delivering big hits.

As for Seattle’s bullpen, the relievers have been mostly doing their jobs. Edwin Díaz continues to be one of MLB’s premiere closers, converting 2 saves in 2 chances this week along with 7 K’s in 3 IP. Alex Colomé has also been showing why Seattle went and got him, with 4 scoreless innings this week to go with his 0 ER in the month of July, and he has yet to allow more than 1 hit in an appearance. Chasen Bradford is also one of the better arms for the M’s this year, and has a reputation as a groundball pitcher who can go a couple of innings. Roenis Elias, a late April trade from Boston, has also been putting together a nice 2018 campaign. He made a spot start for the injured Paxton this week and is sporting a 2.88 ERA in 25 IP. The last bit of big news is Sam Tuivailala, who just arrived in Seattle from St. Louis via trade and is looking to make his Mariners debut in this series. Tuivailala has always been a solid reliever with a career 3.65 ERA and will probably figure into the middle innings at Safeco. Beyond that Nick Vincent and Juan Nicasio have been somewhat lackluster options for Seattle lately.

The Mariners will feel pressure in two directions this week with Oakland nipping at their heels for the WC and the Astros sitting within striking distance for the division crown.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Gerrit Cole, RHP (10-2, 2.54 ERA) vs. James Paxton, LHP (8-4, 3.70 ERA)

Cole had a good outing in Colorado last week, where he went 6.1 innings of 2-run ball with 9 K’s in the mountain air. This continues a string of good outings for Cole, really only marred by a 4-run shrug against the Rangers in his past 6 games. Cole has faced Seattle only once this season back on April 18th, where he cruised through 7 innings with only 1 unearned run and 7 scattered base runners. Cole’s secondary numbers continue to look good for where he is on the season, especially with a 12.43 K/9.

Seattle counters with Paxton, who is expected to be activated off the 10-day DL tomorrow after his return was pushed back for a start due to back soreness. Paxton last pitched a normal outing in Colorado on July 7th where he gave up 4 ER, but he would also get tagged for 3 runs in 0.2 innings against the Angels the following week. Paxton has had no issues handling Houston the two times he’s seen them this year, going 6 and 7.2 IP respectively with 1 run given up in each game. His peripherals show that his ERA may actually be a little high due to bad luck, but there may also be some rust after a few weeks on the shelf.

Hard to say who has the advantage since both have ace stuff, so I’ll just call this one a push.

Game 2: Charlie Morton, RHP (11-2, 2.89 ERA) vs. Mike Leake, RHP (8-6, 4.15 ERA)

Charlie comes into this game after a pretty good start against the Rockies with 6 innings of 1-run ball. He would get himself in a bit of trouble with 4 walks though, which have been an issue for Morton this season. They were not an issue for Charlie the one other time he’s seen Seattle this year, when he would go 7 scoreless with 3 hits, 0 walks, and 8 K’s. Since then Morton’s numbers have started to align more with his peripherals, showning up as some ugly starts in recent weeks.

Leake takes the mound for Seattle after a couple of pretty good games against the Giants and Rockies. He did get lit up for 7 runs, 5 earned, against the Angels before that though. Leake has shown himself to be susceptible to a bad outing, with a little less than a quarter of his starts resulting in 4 runs or more given up. One of those was the last time he faced Houston in April, with 5 ER surrendered in 6 innings of work. Leake’s numbers say that what you see there is pretty close to what you get with him at this point of the season.

I think Morton should be able to show up Leake and continue his recent string of good showings.

Game 3: Dallas Keuchel, LHP (8-9, 3.60 ERA) vs. Wade LeBlanc, LHP (6-1, 3.51 ERA)

Dallas makes this start after a game against the Rangers where he did not look his sharpest, giving up 3 runs across 5 IP. He would also give up a home run in that game, his first one surrendered since June 5th. That game was also the last time DK would go against Seattle, where he would make a right mess of things with 7 ER in 6.2 IP and 3 home runs. His first start against the M’s was quite different, where he would go 8 IP with 2 ER in a tough luck complete game loss. One nice thing is that Dallas’ numbers are that they are more or less right where his secondary stuff says they should be.

LeBlanc continues his surprising 2018, with a couple of decent to good outings coming into this start. He would have some rocky games, giving up 4 ER in back to back starts to the Rockies, but bounced back with 2 quality starts in a row. He labored in his previous start against Houston, only going 4 innings while giving up 3 ER as well as a 4 ER shellacking in 2 innings when he was still in the bullpen. He did have a perfect 2 innings in relief against them in another game. LeBlanc’s peripherals say there may be some negative regression on the way, but not much.

This one seems like a pretty even match up as well, though Dallas has enjoyed success at Safeco in the past.

Fun Fact

This series marks the 4th of 13 straight AL or NL West division teams the Astros play in a row to open the second half. Houston will not face an opponent from outside a West division until after August when they welcome the Twins to MMP on Monday, September 3rd.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, July 30th @ 9:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Mariners - 710 ESPN, RSNW-ESP
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Mariners - ROOTNW / MLB.TV

Game 2: Tuesday, July 31st @ 9:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Mariners - 710 ESPN, RSNW-ESP
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Mariners - ROOTNW / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV

Game 3: Wednesday, August 1st @ 3:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Mariners - 710 ESPN, RSNW-ESP
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Mariners - ROOTNW / MLB.TV


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (8 votes)
  • 38%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (26 votes)
  • 38%
    Mariners Win 2-1
    (26 votes)
  • 11%
    Mariners Sweep 3-0
    (8 votes)
68 votes total Vote Now