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2021 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (71-50, 1st in AL West) return home for three against the Mariners (66-56, 3rd in AL West)

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Notes

While there is still about a month and a half left on the schedule, this series will be about as big as one can expect in mid-August. A series sweep on either end has the chance to put the Mariners right in the thick of the division race or push them right out of it. Even a series win would go a long way in raising the fortunes of this young team.

The Mariners have continued to play their brand of baseball in 2021, winning tight games and slapping clutch hits that have propelled them into playoff contention. Their offense isn’t particularly strong as a unit, but Seattle has found success in using it as a scalpel rather than a hammer. August has been especially nail-biting for the M’s, who have won or lost just 3 of 17 games by more than 2 runs.

Of course, the real name of the game in Seattle is youth and an eye for the future. The Mariners have a number of young prospects getting their first real taste of a full MLB season and the team has performed well, remaining within striking distance of October this late in the season. But the fact is that this team feels more lucky than good at this point, and I’m not sure how much longer they can keep catching lightning in a bottle.

Last 10 Games: 8-2 Record, 2 Series Won, 1 Series Sweep, +9 Run Differential (41 Scored, 30 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 37-25 at home, 29-31 on the road, 38-35 against teams over .500


Offense

The Mariners are collectively slashing .222/.299/.382, which places them at 28th in the league with an OPS of .681. Their .222 BA (30th in MLB) and .299 OBP (29th in MLB) is certainly nothing to write home about and they strike out a ton, which is typical of a young team. They do hit a good number of homers though, and will take their walks where they can get them, but overall the offensive numbers are fairly flat.

Still though, the Mariners have 493 RBI, which is 20th in the league. While that in and of itself is not really impressive, the fact that they only get on base at a .299 clip shows that the team is proficient in driving in runs once they do get there. Whether you want to chalk that up to luck or players finding another gear when it matters most is up to you.

Notable Players:

  • Mitch Haniger (.258/.317/.484) has been one of Seattle’s best players this season and enters tonight’s match after a 2-hit game yesterday, including a 2-out, 3-run dinger. That’s hardly new for Haniger though, who is tied with Kyle Seager for team lead in taters at 27.
  • Ty France (.286/.357/.443) is second only to Haniger when it comes to OPS for the Mariners, and he also played hero in yesterday’s game. France’s 11th inning homer ended up being the difference in that one and continued what has been a stellar month of August for him.
  • Of course I have to mention Abraham Toro (.308/.393/.487), who had seemingly found another gear after joining Seattle from the Astros. He has fallen off somewhat in the last week though, only hitting a paltry .185 in his last 7 games. Still, the potential for a revenge game against Houston would probably be ripe here.

Pitching

The Mariners have been all about their relievers this season, as you would expect for a team involved in a lot of close games. One of the main reasons they have been so successful this season is a bullpen that has been able to keep games close and set the stage for late-inning heroics. To that effect, the Mariners are 11-4 in extra innings and are 26-14 in 1-run games this season.

The bullpen owns a 3.92 ERA, just behind the Astros in that stat, but have pitched about 60 more innings than Houston. Seattle’s 1.20 WHIP in relief puts them amongst some of the more elite pens in the league as well, and they are one of the best units when it comes to limiting walks with just 158 (4th in MLB) free passes this season.

Of course, it’s important to mention that a couple of big pieces from that bullpen are now on the Astros’ roster. Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero had 17 of the Mariners saves between them before being traded to Houston at the deadline.

Meanwhile, the stats for the Mariners’ starters have been mostly so-so this season. While not exactly bottom dwellers, their numbers as a unit hardly rise further than above the bottom half of the league. My standard caveat for some individual efforts being better than the whole goes here.

Notable Relievers:

  • Diego Castillo (RHP, 2.96 ERA, 45.2 IP, 57 K’s) is listed as the Mariners’ closer on the depth chart, but it seems as though the team has been spreading saves around a little. A deadline acquisition from the Rays, Castillo hasn’t exactly been a world beater since landing in Seattle. He’s only successfully converted one save in four opportunities.
  • Paul Sewald (RHP, 2.63 ERA, 41 IP, 67 K’s) has been a trusted arm out of the bullpen for Seattle, and is in the middle of one of the best campaigns of his career. He appears to be the de facto closer, getting the call twice in the last three games. He may not be available right away for this series though, having played in all three of those games as well.
  • Drew Steckenrider (RHP, 2.06 ERA, 48 IP, 46 K’s) is the owner of the M’s other save in that series, having picked one up in the middle game. It was his fifth in eight tries this season, but just his second in August. Steckenrider has probably been Seattle’s most successful reliever still on the team, and Servais is not afraid to deploy him strategically.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Yusei Kikuchi (LHP, 7-6, 3.82 ERA, 140 K’s) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 9-4, 3.22 ERA, 136 K’s)

Kikuchi had begun the season fairly well, seeing his ERA dropping all the way through June, which was easily his best month of the season. His fortunes have slowly reversed since then though, with a 6.11 July ERA. He had been seemingly recovered at the beginning of August, but his last start wasn’t the best, only going 4.1 innings and giving up 3 runs.

Game 2: Logan Gilbert (RHP, 5-4, 4.42 ERA, 87 K’s) vs Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 5-6, 4.74 ERA, 62 K’s)

Gilbert is in the middle of his debut season and has held the line fairly well for Seattle. He is coming off a career worst 5-run, 4-inning drubbing at the hands of the Blue Jays, but that is hardly indicative of his season. Still, he has been known to surrender 3 or 4 runs in a start from time to time.

Game 3: Tyler Anderson (LHP, 6-8, 4.10 ERA, 101 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 8-4, 3.16 ERA, 86 K’s)

Anderson is another deadline pickup for the Mariners, coming over from Pittsburgh at the end of July. His four starts with Seattle have been good, but he has been bit by some inopportune homers. He had an excellent game his last time out, holding the Rangers to just 1 run across 6 innings.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, August 20th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Saturday, August 21st @ 3:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - KTTH 770 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Sunday, August 22nd @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Mariners - 710 ESPN / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Mariners - ROOTNW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (33 votes)
  • 45%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (77 votes)
  • 20%
    Mariners Win 2-1
    (35 votes)
  • 14%
    Mariners Sweep 3-0
    (24 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now