Opening Day was a true battle of the Aces between Shane Bieber and Luis Catillo, won by the home team. Friday was a much higher-scoring affair, which the visiting Guardians claimed. On Saturday’s game between these two elite American League squads, we’ll get to see how things go this time around. Let’s take a look at the odds for this matchup, where my prediction is that the Mariners will cover a spread of 1.5 runs and pick up the home win.
Guardians vs. Mariners Prediction
I’d like to start by getting on the public record and saying that I see these two teams as the best chances the AL has to knock the Astros off of their perch. Both groups exceeded expectations a year ago, and are only trending upwards; I would not be shocked to see either one in the World Series, and this could well be a very early look at what ends up being an excellent playoff series this fall.
For the most part, the Mariners are rocking with the same lovable squad as a year ago, headlined by then-rookie sensation, centerfielder Julio Rodriguez. The young rising star embodies everything exciting about baseball, as he’s one of the most fun players to watch and incredibly dangerous to opponents. Last year, he played at a pretty uncommon level for a 21 year old rookie- let’s see what he can do with a year of experience under his belt.
In typical Cleveland fashion, Terry Francona’s squad racked up 13 hits and 9 runs without putting the ball out of the park once. That’s picking up right where they left off a year ago, when they were second to last in the league in homers, seventh from the top in batting, and dead in the middle for runs scored. As has been the case for years now, the lineup centers around profoundly productive third baseman José Ramírez, and he’s now joined by the up-and-down newcomer and fellow switch hitter Josh Bell.
More than anything else, I think the Mariners have a pretty solid pitching edge in this one. Even in the year of the pitcher, Civale was pretty ineffective, Logan Gilbert had a really solid sophomore season. I’m not particularly high on him either, which is why I’m all over the over, but a team like Seattle is not a great starting point for Civale in what needs to be a major bounce back season.
Guardians vs. Mariners Prediction: Mariners -1.5 (+160), o7.5 (+100)
Guardians vs. Mariners Odds
The Guardians are narrow road underdogs, with +115 odds to win but -190 odds to cover a spread of +1.5. Accordingly, the M’s are -135 on the moneyline and +160 to cover, while over 7.5 runs is even money and the under is set at -120.
Guardians vs. Mariners Key Matchups
Aaron Civale Vs. Dangerous Mariners Lineup
After a nice 2021 season, Civale dealt with some injuries and took a definitive step back last season. It all culminated with him getting absolutely lit up in a winner-take-all ALDS Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, where he was saddled with 3 earned runs and only picked up a single out, leaving him with a tidy career postseason ERA of 81.00. Obviously a small sample size, but after choking so thoroughly in the biggest moment of his career to date, Civale has plenty to prove in 2023.
He’ll be facing a Mariners lineup that is chock full of some of the most fun players, personalities, and nicknames in the MLB. One of those players is Ty France, who has broken out over the past couple of seasons, as he earned his first All Star invite a year ago, and is off to an absolutely scorching start through two games.
Along with the electrifying Rodriguez and Cal “Big Dumper” Raleigh, France is joined around the top of the lineup by an exciting newcomer, Teoscar Hernández. The Dominican power bat and 2021 All Star should inject even more life into this lineup, but is still looking for his first hit in Seattle after a tough first couple of games.
Logan Gilbert Vs. Deceptively Tough Guardians lineup
Most of the time, facing switch-hitters favors a right-handed pitcher; most “ambidextrous” hitters are natural righties, and do better from that side of the plate, so flipping them to the left is a boost.
That being said, Bell actually hits better from the left, and Ramírez is so nasty that he’s pretty much platoon-agnostic, so the stretch of the lineup that includes those two hitters will certainly be one to look out for.
Just before those two, lefty contact bat Steven Kwan is stationed atop the lineup. Kwan burst onto the scene by hitting nearly .300, albeit with basically no power at all. Still, he’s a contact menace, and a tough way to start the game for any pitcher.
Gilbert, who is now 26 and in his third season, really did nicely with an expanded workload in year 2 in the big leagues. While throwing about 1.5x as many innings as he did in his rookie campaign, he dropped his ERA by nearly a run and a half, while also getting his HR/9 down below 1. He’s going to be an interesting player to watch this year, but for now, he’s a major reason I’m picking a road win in my Mariners vs. Guardians prediction.
Guardians vs. Mariners Starting Lineups
Guardians Starting Lineup
LF S. Kwan (L)
SS A. Rosario (R)
3B J. Ramírez (S)
DH J. Bell (S)
1B J. Naylor (L)
2B A. Gimenez (L)
RF W. Brennan (L)
C M. Zunino (R)
CF M. Straw (R)
Mariners Starting Lineup
CF J. Rodriguez (R)
2B K. Wong (L)
1B T. France (R)
RF T. Hernandez (R)
C C. Raleigh (S)
3B E. Suarez (R)
LF J. Kelenic (L)
DH T. La Stella (L)
SS J. Crawford (L)