The Mariners, who started off the season on an incredible hot streak leading to many of their fans to proclaim them as champions of the AL West early in the season, have crashed back to earth. Now sitting in last place of the AL West at 47-64, 23.5 Games Behind the Astros, the Mariners became sellers at this years trade deadline trading Mike Leake, Hunter Strickland, Roenis Elias, Kristopher Negron, and Edwin Encarnacion. Now in a full rebuild mode having eaten large chunks of the traded players salaries, you’d have to assume a little worse performance than their current record and -90 Run Differential.
The Astros on the other hand, are the talk of baseball. Before the Greinke acquisition, they were considered the favorite via Fangraphs playoff odds to win the World Series, you can only imagine the recent acquisitions have helped fortify that position (now showing at 25.6% to win the WS with the Dodgers in second at 17.7%)
Game 1: Yusei Kikuchi vs Wade Miley
Fangraph odds: Astros () Mariners (34.3%)
Kikuchi broke into the MLB this year, throwing 114 IP across his 22 starts for a 5.21 ERA. From both an xFIP (5.14) and SIERA (5.15) perspective, his results seem fairly deserved. The 28 year old throws 4 pitches, a 4-seam Fastball averaging 92.6 mph, a Slider at 86, a Curve at 75.1 and Change-up at 84.7. None of his pitches show as particularly dominant which helps to explain his 6.55 K/9 vs 3.00 BB/9.
Wade Miley on the other hand continues to shine in 2019, with a sparkling 3.06 ERA across his 126.2 IP so far this year. The advanced stats are less kind to Miley. still coming in at a solid but less spectacular 4.34 for his xFIP and 4.52 for his SIERA due to some good BABIP and LOB% fortune.
Game 2: Marco Gonzalez vs Aaron Sanchez
Fangraph Odds: Astros () Mariners (34.7%)
Marco Gonzalez had the best season of his career last year and there was speculation he could be poised for a bit of a breakout. Unfortunately, this season has been somewhat of a disappointment. Although his ERA has jumped just .21 to a 4.21 mark for the season, he has regressed from a K/9, BB/9 and his xFIP (5.00) and SIERA (4.95) indicate that he’s been fortunate to achieve those marks. Gonzalez uses a 5 pitch arsenal, leading with a 88.7 mph Sinker 36% of the time, rounded out by a Change-up at 81 mph, Cutter at 84.9, Curve at 75.7 and a 4-Seamer at 88.1. None of his pitches rank particularly highly with only the Change-up achieving an xwOBA below .300.
As of right now, Fangraphs shows Aaron Sanchez making the start for the Astros. As a new addition to the Astros, there will definitely be some intrigue to see if the Astros can make the most of Sanchez’s potential. Once an All-Star and coming in 7th place in the Cy-Young race for his 15-2, 3.00 ERA across 192 IP, Sanchez has fallen from grace. His 3-14 record with a 6.07 ERA will not inspire much from a fanbase, but there’s more to Sanchez than meets the eye. I would assume the Astros will all but remove the Sinker from Sanchez’s arsenal which he currently throws 29.5% of the time (and has been absolutely crushed to the tune of .406 xwOBA). What Sanchez does have is one of the highest spinning curveballs in baseball, leaving some speculation that there could a Charlie Morton-esque evolution coming to Aaron Sanchez leaving fans far more optimistic about his potential than expected from a 6.07 ERA pitcher. I’ll be honest, this is the game I’m most excited to watch as we get another candidate for Strom tutelage.
Game 3: Matt Wisler vs Justin Verlander
Fangraph odds: Astros (73.7%) Mariners (26.3%)
Similar to Sanchez, not many people will think much of an unheralded pitcher who has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen to a 5.13 career ERA and 5.09 ERA in season. Wisler though has seen some significant improvements this year which it will be interesting to see if they carry over as he transitions back to the rotation. Wisler has been striking out 10.95 per 9, and has kept his BB/9 to 2.55 (below his career average). His xFIP (3.58) and SIERA (3.45) indicate that his ERA has been somewhat unfortunate luck, although it’s across a small sample size (35 IP). Wisler has seen an uptick in his velocity, but still leads with a very strong slider 70% of the time which has limited damage to the tune of a .236 xwOBA. He is essentially a Slider/Fastball pitcher although he did utilize 4 pitches on very small frequency and had used them consistently when he was a full-time starter back in 2016.
Opposing Sanchez is our very own Justin Verlander, who continues to pitch like an ace. His 2.73 ERA shows a bit better than his xFIP (3.43) and SIERA (3.14), but he’s pitching like a top of the rotation starter no matter which way you slice it. Having broken the 2,900 strikeout mark, he has a bit of a gap before he moves up the All-Time strike out list, currently chasing CC Sabathia who is at 3,052.
What is your guess on the series split
This poll is closed
Astros 3 - Mariners 0
Astros 2 - Mariners 1
Astros 1 - Mariners 2
Astros 0 - Mariners 3