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Series Preview #38: Seattle Mariners @ Houston Astros

The Astros (73-42, 1st in AL West) continue their assault on the West as they face the Mariners (65-50, 3rd in AL West) in a four game set

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Recency Bias


Seattle limps into Houston riding one of the worst stretches of what had been a storybook season for them. They’ve gone 7-11 since the All-star break and have dropped 5 of their last 7 games while falling our of the second wild card spot. The two brightest spots in their lineup this past week have been Mike Zunino and Nelson Cruz, who both sport OPS’s over 1.100 in the past two series. Zunino has been on a tear, slashing .368/.400/.842 with three bombs this week while Cruz has 4 long balls to go with his own .296/.367/.741 slash. Kyle Seager has also been flexing muscles since returning from paternity leave, mashing 3 home runs of his own, but hasn’t been getting on base with quite the same authority. Those 10 home runs are the only long balls for the M’s this week, but Mitch Haniger and Andrew Romine have both logged very respectable weeks by getting on base at a .367 and .385 clip, respectively. Backup catcher Chris Herrmann has done work this week as well, but only appeared in 3 games. Beyond that, the Mariners bats have been unenthusiastic this week except for Old Friend Cameron Maybin who has had a .292 OBP, but with no power. Ryon Healy may possibly return in this series, but has been underwhelming this season.

The Mariner’s pen has had a somewhat mediocre week since last we saw them at Safeco. That does not include Edwin Díaz, of course, who continued his excellent season by notching 2 saves along with 2 scoreless innings. Díaz, along with Colomé and Vincent, were the only three pitchers for Seattle who did not give up a run this week. Nick Vincent would have two perfect innings while Colomé would go 2.2 innings, but with a blown save by allowing inherited runners to score in an outing against the Rangers. Adam Warren would get tagged with those runs, but also pitched a scoreless inning this week. James Pazos continues to be a strong arm for the Mariners as well, but did allow 4 runs, only 1 earned, this past week in 3.1 IP. Chasen Bradford had a pretty awful performance against Toronto and seems to giving up runs every few appearances in recent weeks. Zach Duke, a recent acquisition from the Twins, is currently in that same boat as well. You may remember him giving up runs to the Astros in his Seattle debut. The only other note is Sam Tuivailala, recent addition from the Cardinals, who appeared to injure his Achilles during a rundown yesterday and will go on the DL. His replacement has not been announced.

Though there is still a good amount of season remaining, this series will be critical for Seattle if they hope to compete for the division in a meaningful way going forward.


Houston will come into this series with much better fortunes, having just completed a 6-2 road trip with three straight series win and a mini-sweep. They were able to do it with some good old-fashioned NL baseball with 5 games against the Dodgers and Giants. With most of the big boppers on the shelf and the lack of DH, more than a couple slots were filled with recent Grizzlies. Marwin Gonzalez has been money in the bank this week, slashing .333/.455/.722 with a couple of homers including a game winner in the top of the 9th against the Giants and a Game 2 redux in LA. White would also play hero this week, spanking a 2 run game-winner in the final game of the Giants series, but also had more than his fair share of K’s this week. Jake has looked good in his 12 PAs this week as has Kemp, with both hitting a home run and getting on base regularly. Springer had also been heating up at the plate before exiting the finale against the Dodger with a thumb injury. Gurriel Bregman, and Stassi have all been getting on base, but have not made much noise otherwise. Reddick has been more power than finesse this week with a double, triple, and home run, but his average has been pushing down. In some happier news, look for Correa to return from the DL this series.

Meanwhile, the pen has been nothing short of lock down since they went on the road trip. They haven’t allowed a run in that time and this week was more of the same as the pen would hold both San Francisco and LA scoreless in 14.1 IP. Rondón in particular has been dealing, notching 3 saves in 3.1 innings with 6 strikeouts. Pressly and Peacock have both pitched 2.1 and 2 innings, with Peacock coming in early to relieve an injured McCullers and bridging the gap to the bullpen. McHugh would have a shaky appearance in LA but wiggled out of any trouble and then bounced back in San Francisco and now owns a 1.00 ERA with 70 K’s in 54 IP this year. Smith also had a couple of scoreless outings and 1.2 IP while Harris, Osuna, and Perez would all pitch clean single innings in their appearances. Sipp continues to slot more into a lefty specialist role lately, making two appearances against southpaws for 0.2 IP.

Houston will look to throw a little more dirt on Seattle and try to keep ahead of the A’s who are still keeping pace around 5 games back.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: James Paxton, LHP (9-5, 3.51 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander, RHP (11-6, 2.19 ERA)

Astros Killer James Paxton will make his fourth start against Houston after coming off a decent game against Toronto. The big lefty would go 7 innings of 3-run ball, striking out 7 in those frames. Paxton has pitched to a 0.87 ERA in his 3 other starts against Houston with 21 K’s and 4 walks in 20.2 IP. His ERA is actually a little high compared to his FIP and his average BABIP along with 11.48 K/9 and 2.30 BB.9 says that he is going to be a handful for Astros batters.

Houston will trot out Verlander, who returned to his dominant form in the most recent game against LA where he would go 7.2 IP with 1 ER and 14 K’s matching a career high. Justin has yet to face the Mariners this season, so they’ll be getting their first 2018 look at him in this game. JV continues to outpace his numbers with peripherals that make it more likely that he can continue to for a while yet.

This is probably going to be a pretty even pitching match up with how well both of these pitchers have slung it this season.

Game 2: Mike Leake, RHP (8-7, 4.16 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole, RHP (10-4, 2.64 ERA)

Leake will make this strart after a stretch of games where he has looked good but not overwhelming on the mound. He went 6.2 innings against Toronto with 3 runs and 5 K, similar to his previous outing against the Astros except with just 6 IP and 4 K. He would also get slapped around by the Astros at the start of the year, surrendering 5 runs to them in 6 frames. His secondary numbers suggest that Leake is more or less what his stats say he is right now.

As for Cole, he had also been returning to a dominant form in recent starts, but his most recent one at Dodgers stadium was not quite so spectacular. He would go 5 IP and ended up as the losing pitcher with 3 ER and 8 K’s on the ledger. This will be his third start against Seattle with the previous 2 going quite well at 6.2 and 7.0 IP with only 2 and 0 ER surrendered in those matches. His primary and secondary numbers have pretty much equalized at this point, suggesting that Cole can keep this performance going for a while yet.

Cole has been having the better season and I see no reason why that won’t continue here.

Game 3: Wade LeBlanc, LHP (6-2, 3.81 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton, RHP (12-2, 2.81 ERA)

LeBlanc has continued to perform admirably for the Mariners this season since being moved to the rotation out of the pen. His most recent match against the Rangers was a 6,1 affair where he would only give up 1 run in 6.1 innings of work. His most recent start against the Astros was a complete disaster for him and one of his worst this season with 10 hits and 7 ER in 4.1 IP. LeBlanc’s numbers suggest he may be skirting some luck here, but he’s right about where he should be.

Meanwhile, Morton makes his start after a string of good performances dating back to the All-Star break. He’s gone 6 or more innings in each of those 3 starts and given up 2 runs or less in each of those. His last start against Seattle was on this past road trip and would feature 6 innings of 2-tun ball with 8 K’s. A high BB/9 ratio suggest that some regression might still be on the way for Morton.

Morton, though he has struggled with his command at times, still has shown a more dominant season than LeBlanc and should be the favorite to win this match.

Game 4: Félix Hernández, RHP (8-10, 5.73 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel, LHP (9-9 3.53 ERA)

King Félix has been more of a jester this season, though he has had a few good stretches. What’s really bit him is the big blowup, which he would feel against Texas in his most recent match. Félix would go 6 innings, but got clobbered for 11 runs, 7 earned in those 6 frames. It was the 7th time he’s given up at least 5 runs and the fourth with at least 7 ER. This will be his first time facing Houston in 2018. Hernández’s secondary numbers don’t inspire a lot of hope for improvement.

Houston counters with Keuchel, who has been much improved since the start of July except for a grinder against the Rangers. He would log 6 innings against the Giants, only surrendering a single run and walking 2. Dallas has seen the M’s three times this season and has had two really good starts against them surrounding a 7 run fiasco back in early June. His numbers continue to suggest that Dallas is performing at about right where he should be on the year.

Unless Hernández suddenly finds his form again there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reason to think that Keuchel can’t take this. However, there has been some chatter that Hernández may not make his next start, so things may change between now and Sunday.

Fun Fact

The Astros are now 73-42 after 115 games, 2 games better than their 2017 record of 71-44.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, August 9th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV

Game 2: Friday, August 10th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB.TV

Game 3: Saturday, August 11th @ 6:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB.TV

Game 4: Sunday, August 12th @ 2:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / TBS / MLB.TV


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (25 votes)
  • 66%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (127 votes)
  • 14%
    Series Split 2-2
    (28 votes)
  • 1%
    Mariners Win 3-1
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Mariners Sweep 4-0
    (9 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now