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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Seattle Mariners

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The Astros (77-53, 1st in AL West) head out to the West Coast for a week starting with three against the Mariners (70-61, 3rd in AL West)

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Quick Notes

Though it’s only been about a week and a half since the last time the Astros saw the Mariners, fortunes have changed somewhat since those contests. Houston was won all three series since then while the Mariners have mostly just tread water.

This has placed them 7.5 back in the division, which is becoming more and more insurmountable as the regular season begins to wind down. While they certainly aren’t out of it yet, a series win by Houston this week could push them so far back that they may as well be eliminated barring a complete collapse by both the Astros and A’s.

However, a series win or sweep could put them right back into the fight for the AL West, especially with 13 of their final 31 games scheduled against either the Astros or A’s. This next week, which features the M’s final 6 games of the season against the Astros, is going to be make or break time for the young team.

Last 10 Games: 5-5 Record, 1 Series Mini-Sweep, 2 Series Lost, -17 Run Differential (46 Scored, 63 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 38-28 at home, 32-33 on the road, 37-35 against teams over .500


Offense

Like the Mariners’ record, their offense has also continued to tread water since the last time they faced the Astros. The team is slashing a rather paltry .223/.299/.382, with only the Rangers, Pirates, and Marlins sporting a worse OPS. Those teams aren’t exactly the company you want to keep if you’re looking to contend.

Still, the name of the game for the Mariners has been clutch hits late in the game, which is their specialty. Really, it’s the main reason they’re even in the position they currently enjoy this late in the season. A -60 run differential and expected win-loss record of 59-72 really speaks to the fact that this young team has been more lucky than good in 2021.

Notable Hitters:

  • Astro-Killer Ty France (.290/.358/.456) has taken over the top spot as best player for the season, OPS-wise, stealing the title from Mitch Haniger (.255/.319/.479). Neither have had a very good time at the plate in recent games though, with France slumping while Haniger hovers more towards average.
  • Luis Torrens (.220/.288/.428) meanwhile, has been red hot at the plate in recent play. In the last five games since the last Astros series he is slashing .353/.429/.529 with 3 doubles and 3 walks, though he hasn’t hit a homer this week.

Pitching

As was the case the last time the Astros met the Mariners, the name of the game for Seattle is relief pitching. Really it’s been a major part of the clutch formula for this team where the bullpen holds off opposing teams late in games and gives the offense the opportunity to find the Big Hit. To that effect, the bullpen arms hold a 3.89 ERA on the season, which is three quarters of a run lower than the starters.

Speaking of the rotation, their 4.69 ERA places them firmly into the bottom third of the league and is pretty indicative of why the team has a -60 run differential. It’s not so much that all the starters are crap, as you’ll see by the pitching matchups later in this article, but as a whole the rotation has been a let down in 2021.

Notable Relievers:

  • Paul Sewald (RHP, 2.58 ERA, 45.1 IP, 73 K’s) has been lights out this season and has become a high leverage option for the M’s bullpen. August has been a “down month” for Sewald though, as he has given up 5 runs so far, which is the most of any month for him. 3 of those came in one game against the Yankees though, so that’s more the result of one big stumble.
  • As good as Sewald has been, Drew Steckenrider (RHP, 1.84 ERA, 53.2 IP, 48 K’s) has been even better. The two appear to be sharing closing duties since the departure of Kendall Gravemen, though Steckenrider is probably number one based on his numbers. He’s given up just a single run in the entire month of August, and that came way back on the 4th.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Luis Garcia (RHP, 10-6, 3.21 ERA, 144 K’s) vs Chris Flexen (RHP, 11-5, 3.54 ERA, 95 K’s)

Flexen gets the ball in Game 1, and has probably been the Mariners’ best starter this season. August has been his best month so far in 2021, with a 2.59 ERA across 31.1 IP so far. He’s surrendered 10 runs, 9 earned, in that time, and has 26 strikeouts. This will be his third start against Houston this season, who made mincemeat of him just a month ago with 7 runs across 4 innings.

Game 2: Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 10-4, 3.32 ERA, 151 K’s) vs Yusei Kikuchi (LHP, 7-7 4.33 ERA, 145 K’s)

Kikuchi had a bit of a rough start to the season but appeared to be improving heading into the second half. That reversed itself at the beginning of July and things have been more back-and-forth for the lefty since then. He faced the Astros just two starts ago and got slapped around hard, surrendering 7 earned runs in just 2.2 innings of work.

Game 3: Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 6-6, 4.46 ERA, 75 K’s) vs Logan Gilbert (RHP, 5-5, 5.44 ERA, 97 K’s)

Gilbert has had a rookie campaign best left forgotten, which has really begun to spiral during August. He’s surrendered 19 earned runs in his last three starts, which has spanned just 12.2 innings. The worst of those games was a 9-run beatdown at the hands of the Astros just last week.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, August 30th @ 9:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Mariners - 710 ESPN
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Mariners - ROOTNW

Game 2: Tuesday, August 31st @ 9:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Mariners - 710 ESPN
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Mariners - ROOTNW

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


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (29 votes)
  • 60%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (86 votes)
  • 13%
    Mariners Win 2-1
    (19 votes)
  • 5%
    Mariners Sweep 3-0
    (8 votes)
142 votes total Vote Now