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Series Preview #41: Houston Astros @ Seattle Mariners

The Astros (75-49, 1st in AL West) continue their West Coast farewell tour with 2018’s penultimate series against the Mariners (71-53, 3rd in AL West)

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Recency Bias


Houston has had an up and mostly down week coming into today’s game. They managed to snatch away sweeps in the final game if their last two series after losing 4 in a row at the hands of these same Mariners. They would lose an emotional one in the opening game of the last series as the umps in NY would insert themselves squarely into the division race, before getting handled in the second game and returning the favor in the third.

Tyler White has continued to make a strong case that he can hit MLB pitching with a .364/.417/.909 slash line and 2 long balls in the last couple of series. Gurriel has begun to turn it back on after slumping out of the ASB, with a 1.076 OPS this week and clutch home run in the final game of the A’s series. Bregman and Gattis are both starting to square balls up with authority again, though Bregman really never stopped producing hits and walks like Gattis did. Martín Maldonado’s bat would finally arrive from Anaheim in the Oakland series as he would smash a couple of home runs and come a single shy of the cycle in the final game. Marwin has been steady if not hitting for average, but the rest of the lineup is fairly unproductive lately though Correa has shown some signs of life at the plate recently. It should also be noted that Springer appears to be playing with pain in his thumb. which may be affecting his swing.

Injury Update: Altuve has begun a rehab assignment with Fresno up in Tacoma. He went 1-for-3 last night before being removed after a HBP in the top of the 7th. It did not appear to be serious and there is some indication that he could be activated while the Astros are in Seattle.

The Astros’ bullpen continued a mediocre week with really only Peacock getting roughed up in a couple of his appearances. He would give up 3 runs in two games against Colorado and Oakland before playing the hero and wriggling out of a bases loaded jam in third A’s game. Harris and Pressly were the other two relievers to go at least three innings this week, with Harris having a decent enough week, giving up 1 run in 3 innings, while Pressly looked sharp with 3 clean innings in 3 games. Rondón would have a rough first game in Oakland, blowing the save in the 9th, but would bounce back with a perfect 8th inning on Sunday. McHugh has also looked a little off in his recent outings, giving up a run in just 1.1 inning, as has Sipp, who would take an L in Oakland after giving up a walkoff homer to Matt Olson. Beyond that Osuna, Perez, and Smith would all pitch a single scoreless inning this past week.

The Astros will try to build some momentum after their big finale win against the A’s and look to expand their tenuous hold on first in the division.


Seattle has had a similar week to the Astros in that they’ve only managed two wins, but in six games instead of five. They would get handled by both the A’s and Dodgers, giving up 27 runs to LA’s offense in a 1-2 series loss. Though the Mariners are still well within striking distance of the division and wild card at 4.5 and 3.5 games, respectively, they have not been playing this week like the team that snuck up on the Astros and took four in Houston, except for Jean Segura.

Segura had been a hitting machine in the A’s series, slapping 8 singles in 14 AB before going on paternity leave during the LA series. He’s been one of Seattle’s hottest hitters going even farther back, so they will welcome his return against Houston. Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager were the only other two Mariners to clock in with an OPS over .700 this week, going .757 and .715, respectively. Denard Span would come close with .697, and got on at a decent rate in the past two series with a .333 OBP. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz would also sport an OPS over .300 with a low average, with Cruz drawing 4 walks while hitting .190. Beyond that Ryon Healy has been the biggest threat, but hardly overpowering at the plate. Zunino, Heredia, Herrmann, Romine, and Gordon have all been ice cold this week with just five hits between them while Maybin has been having issues with strikeouts.

The depth in Seattle’s bullpen has been tested this week with a couple of big blowouts at the hands of the Dodgers. Nick Vincent has been the best short reliever in the past two series with 3.1 scoreless IP, 1 H, 1 BB, and 3K’s. After that, Zach Duke probably had the best week with no runs in 1 inning across 2 appearances and 1 H, though James Pazos and Adam Warren would both post scoreless outings with 2 walks in each. Edwin Díaz would blow a save, his first since June 1st, with a home run served up to Dodgers’ 1B Muncy, but the Mariners would come back to win that game in the 10th. Matt Festa was Seattle’s only other reliever to give up just 1 ER as everyone else would give up at least 2. Colomé would give up 2, but those were the first runs charged to him since June 27th. Roenis Elias, who made a spot start this week, and Christian Bergman were each forced to wear a game with 5 ER in 3 IP and 4 ER in 2.2, respectively. Bergman and Casey Lawrence were both optioned this week to make room for fresh arms.

Seattle will look to regain some ground after a couple of tough series and tighten up both the division and wild card races.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Félix Hernández, RHP (8-11, 5.62 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole, RHP (11-5, 2.71 ERA)

Hernández played hero last week, coming out of the pen for the first time in his career when James Paxton was hit by a come-backer and left his start against Oakland with a forearm injury. He would take the Mariners through the 6th inning, only allowing 2 ER in 5.2 IP with 2 BB and 2 K’s. He was rewarded with Paxton’s place in the rotation after Big Maple hit the DL, and will face Houston for the first time this season. His numbers look pretty bad all around so he might be a nice target for the Astros to build on their big win from yesterday.

Meanwhile, Cole would continue his excellent season with 6 innings of 1-run ball his last time out against Colorado. He would also strikeout 12 batters, his 7th multi-digit strikeout game of the year. Cole has faced Seattle three times in 2018 and has looked mostly good doing it, getting at least 6.2 IP in each game and only giving up more than 2 runs once. That would be 4 in his last match against them, but he did look good for most of that game.

Cole has been the superior pitcher all season and I see no reason why that dynamic would change for this game.

Game 2: TBD vs. Mike Leake, RHP (8-7, 3.90 ERA)

The Astros have yet to announce who will make a spot start for Lance, though Hinch indicated it would be either Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh, or Cionel Pérez. Peacock has seen the most use out of the pen this week so he seems less likely to get the ball. While Pérez is the most rested he’s also the least experienced, so McHugh seems the most obvious candidate short of a call-up from AAA. I expect all three to get innings in that game, though.

Leake has been one of the Mariners’ best pitchers in their rotation recently, twirling 8 innings of 2-hit shutout ball with 6 K’s his last time out. He’s faced Houston twice in the last three weeks, going 6 innings with 4 strikeouts each time and surrendering 3 and then 2 ER. He would get tagged for 5 ER in 6 IP his first time against Houston, but that was back on April 18th. His numbers are just about lined up with his ERA at this point, suggesting his 8 shutout innings against Oakland was an outlier, but he can still be a challenge across 6 innings.

Obviously it’s hard to say who would have the edge in this match up without an idea of who would start for the Astros, but it’s probably going to be a bullpen day for Houston.

Game 3: Charlie Morton*, RHP (12-3, 2.85 ERA) vs. Marco Gonzales, LHP (12-8, 3.91 ERA)

*Morton has not been officially announced as the starter for this game but this is his spot in the rotation so I’ll preview him: Charlie would make this start after a 5 inning grind of a game against Oakland where he would give up 2 runs, 1 earned, and strikeout 4 with 2 BB. Before that he would go 6 against Seattle and give up 3 ER in a single inning. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing issue for Morton, who has a tendency to lose command for an inning or two but otherwise show dominance when he is spotting pitches. His secondary numbers reflect this volatility.

Gonzales has been giving up runs in his past three starts with 4, 7, and 4 ER going back to his game against Toronto. Before that he would have an excellent run from the end of June through all of July, pitching to a 1.57 ERA in 34.1 IP. Gonzales would face Houston at Safeco back in April where he would get chased in 4.2 innings after giving up 3 runs with 8 K’s. Gonzales may be on a bit of an unlucky streak according to his 3.58 FIP and .320 BABIP, so hopefully the Astros can contribute to that.

So long as Morton can keep the Big Inning from blowing up on him, he should be able to come out ahead in this one.

Fun Fact

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, August 20th @ 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, August 21st @ 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 3: Wednesday, August 22nd @ 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

  • 27%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (43 votes)
  • 52%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (83 votes)
  • 15%
    Mariners Win 2-1
    (24 votes)
  • 4%
    Mariners Sweep 3-0
    (7 votes)
157 votes total Vote Now