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2019 Series Preview #27: Seattle Mariners @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (50-32, 1st in AL West) will look to right the ship with three against the Mariners (37-48, 5th in AL West)

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

Recency Bias

Astros

There’s really not a whole lot of sugarcoating the recent play of the Astros as things have been rather terrible. The Pirates series in particular hurt because just as soon as the team seemed to be pulling itself out of its slump it got kicked in the head pretty hard. The pitching in particular couldn’t get its act together, giving up 9 homers in the last two games. It’s not all the pitching’s fault though as the offense has missed quite a few opportunities, having only scored 2 runs off of 18 hits and 7 walks in those final games. The Astros will need to try and get back on track soon as the second half of June has allowed a suddenly hot Rangers team to creep within striking distance for the AL West crown.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In spite of the lack of RBI’s, the team has actually been performing somewhat well with the bats, just not consistent enough to score runs. Springer has absolutely rocked it since returning from the IL and Altuve has seemingly found his stroke again.

However, Yuli has probably had the best week of the Astros hitters. He hasn’t struck out since the first game of the Yankees series while also managing to pop a couple of homers and two doubles. All three of those hitters have an OPS above 1.000 in the last week as well.

Reddick has also been swinging a hot bat as of late, which is good to see after he went through a little mini-slump of his own. Straw and Kemp continue to serve the Astros well as bench players, but their offensive impact has been limited.

After that you have to begin to look at OPS to see who’s still performing well. Bregman, White, and Brantley are all getting on base at good clips even if they’re not doing it with solid hits. Bregman has seemingly found some power in his bat recently, having hit doubles in back-to-back games this week as well as a homer.

Injury Update: Rookie slugger Yordan Alvarez would leave yesterday’s game with right knee... *shudder* discomfort. Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle tweeted the following after the game:

Please make any and all appropriate prayers and/or sacrifices to the deity of your preference.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Though he certainly wasn’t dominant in his MLB debut, I have to highlight Cy Sneed, who stepped up and threw 6 solid innings in relief of Brad Peacock. Though he gave up 4 runs during that time, he also helped to give relief to an already taxed bullpen. Welcome to the show, Sneed, and thank you for taking one for the team.

In the past 6 games the bullpen has had to cover 23 innings of relief. Other than Sneed, the lion’s share of that work has gone to Devo, who’s tossed 5 innings this week. He looked to actually be cruising until his most recent outing where he gave up a couple of runs, but that was in the third inning of a long relief appearance.

Another highlight of the week is the return of McHugh, who has already had a couple of clean innings since making his way back from the IL.

Of the rest of the relievers only Rondón and Pressly have given up runs this week. Pressly, Osuna, and Harris have not seen much work this week as there hasn’t exactly been a ton of high-leverage situations available.

Mariners

The Mariners have pretty much tread water since last we saw them at the beginning of the month. Even though they lost their most recent game against the Brewers they have won their past two series, including a four-set against the Orioles. While they have played some good ball as of late, the Mariners are also a team that the Astros have feasted on in recent years, and have certainly used them as slump-busters on several occasions during that time.

Seattle Mariners v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

After starting the season with one of the hottest offenses in baseball, the M’s have really started to come down to earth. They manage to strike out more than any other MLB team, but they also walk the most so there’s an odd shift there. They also continue to mash a ton of homers and are certainly more than capable of exploding all over opposing pitching, but those kind of games are a little rarer than they were at the start of 2019.

Daniel Vogelbach continues to be their big, beefy slugger and probably their best hitter since Edwin Encarnación was traded away. J.P. Crawford has done pretty well for himself since coming up at the beginning of May as well, and has been the best hitter in the past week, slashing .481/.483/.815 during that time.

Old friend Domingo Santana has also been good this year and, like Crawford, one of the better hitters during the past week. Santana has done well for himself in a Seattle uniform, leading the league in RBI’s briefly back in April.

You can also expect some noise out of Omar Narváez and Tom Murphy this series as they have both been having pretty good 2019 campaigns. After those two Mallex Smith is probably the hottest hitter in Seattle’s lineup, with Kyle Seager coming up a close second behind him.

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The hierarchy of the Mariners’ bullpen remains somewhat elusive to nail down as Hunter Strickland works his way back from injury. Strickland was originally slated for closing duties before going on the IL, and Roenis Elias seems to be getting the bulk of the save opportunities in his absence.

Anthony Bass and Austin Adams handle the high-leverage stuff after Elias, with Adams in particular featuring some pretty red-hot numbers in his 2019 efforts. He’s only worked 19 innings during that time, but has been seeing a fair amount of use recently. Bass is working on even less IP and his numbers aren’t quite as good as Adams’.

Cory Gearrin sees the most time of the remaining bullpen arms, but that’s more due to mop-up duty than anything else. You can also expect to see Matt Festa, who has already been back and forth to the minors this season, in such a role as well.

The Mariners’ pen has been going through some injury woes as it currently has five members on the IL. In the meantime the depth has been doing alright in recent weeks though it’s not exactly a dominant group.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: TBD vs Wade Miley, LHP (6-4, 3.51 ERA)

The Mariners have yet to announce who will start this game and may employ an opener, which they’ve done for this slot in the rotation several times this season. What you can expect is for Tommy Milone to factor into the game at some point. He was the starter for this spot the last time through and tends to go for a majority of innings in the games he shows up in. He’s actually had a good 2019 and holds a 3.35 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 37.2 innings of work.

After a rock-solid opening to the season Miley has stumbled a little in his past two games. First he failed to get out of the fifth inning against Cincinnati as the bled him by beating the shift, and then he was done after 5 innings after allowing 4 runs and 4 walks to the Yankees. Miley has been seeing a rise in walks in recent games, which is never a good sign, but strikeout numbers have also remained steady as well, so control may not be the bigger problem here.

Game 2: Yusei Kikuchi, LHP (4-5, 5.11 ERA) vs Justin Verlander, RHP (10-3, 2.67 ERA)

Kikuchi makes this start after a 2019 season that hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations that were on him at the beginning of the year. He did have a decent go his last time out, tossing 6 innings of 3-run ball, but was blasted for 6 runs in five innings in the game before that. Kikuchi went through a stretch earlier this season where he went 3.1 innings in 3 straight games while giving up 18 runs. His ERA definitely tells the tale of what to expect from him.

As for Justin Verlander, he played stopper his last time out against the Yankees and the Astros will look for more of the same in this start. JV continues to get bit by the long ball, having given up 7 homers now in his past 3 starts, but it still pitching pretty well in spite of it. He went 7 innings for his third straight start his last time out as well. Verlander has faced Seattle twice so far this season, both as a visitor, and did well the first game while being a little less so in the second.

Game 3: Marco Gonzales, LHP (9-6, 4.34 ERA) vs Gerrit Cole, RHP (7-5, 3.42 ERA)

Gonzales did pretty well his last time out, going 5 innings of 2-run ball. He’s actually on a good run now, having managed to get at least into the 6th inning in his previous three starts before that, and hasn’t given up more then 2 runs in any of those games. He’s had a couple of clunkers this season as well though, so he can certainly be gotten to if the offense can strike. He’s had one match against Houston this year and was able to go 5.1 innings in that one while only giving up 2 runs.

As for Cole, he’s coming off a bit of a revenge game against the Pirates where he would pitch 6 innings and only give up one earned run. What was truly bizarre though was the fact that he would only strike out 3 during that start, his lowest number of K’s in any game for 2019. Cole has only faced Seattle once this year and was able to do pretty well against them, earning the win after going 6 innings and only allowing 2 runs.

Fun Fact

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, June 28th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Saturday, June 29th @ 7:15 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: FOX

Game 3: Sunday, June 30th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (23 votes)
  • 34%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (20 votes)
  • 18%
    Mariners Win 2-1
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    Mariners Sweep 3-0
    (4 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now