The Houston Astros did the impossible on Saturday – they beat the Seattle Mariners.
The loss yesterday snapped a 15-game win streak by Seattle that put the Pacific Northwest’s pride and joy back in the Wildcard race. The Mariners were eventually going to lose, but that shouldn’t take away from what Seattle has accomplished this July.
The Astros are still the class of the AL West, however, continuing to build on a divisional lead that now stands at 12.
But where does the value lie in this Sunday matchup?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Houston-Seattle matchup.
Houston Astros vs Seattle Mariners Odds
How much trust do you have in Robbie Ray?
The defending AL Cy Young winner has been rather mediocre this season, and now commands much less respect in the betting markets.
Ray will take on fellow southpaw Framber Valdez, who has been one of the most consistent rotation guys in baseball in the last three seasons. The Astros are 31-20 when Framber starts a game. He’s also tossed two complete games this season.
With the Mariners at home, the market values these two teams equally. But I feel like that might be disrespecting the Astros slightly.
Houston Astros Starting Lineup
2B Jose Altuve R
SS Jeremy Pena R
DH Y. Alvarez L
3B Alex Bregman R
RF Kyle Tucker L
1B Yuli Gurriel R
CF Jake Meyers R
LF Aledmys Diaz R
C M. Maldonado R
Houston Astros vs Robbie Ray
Ray’s consistency last season was astounding. He hasn’t been quite the same pitcher this season, but Ray’s put together a very impressive recent stretch.
Ray has pitched to a 1.36 ERA over the last seven games, allowing more than one run in a start just once. As a result, the Mariners are 6-1 in those games. His 2.78 xFIP during the stretch indicates some level of regression, but his 11.27 K/9 shows us that Ray can still cook.
Ray forces Whiffs better than 89% of qualified pitchers. But his batted ball statistics are still not elite. His WHIP is up slightly year-over-year while his strand rate has finally dropped from the unsustainable 90.1% he posted last season, and those two factors have ultimately caused his ERA to jump.
But a 3.54 ERA, 3.29 xERA, and 1.5 fWAR are nothing to be ashamed about.
But can he keep up with this Houston offense? The Astros score more runs than any team save the Yankees, and they could be unstoppable with Yordan Alvarez in the lineup. Alvarez leads MLB in slugging (.675) and OPS (1.084), and he has already hit two home runs since returning from injury a mere three days ago.
Seattle Mariners Starting Lineup
SS J. Crawford L
1B T. France R
CF J. Rodriguez R
3B E. Suarez R
DH C. Santana S
C C. Raleigh S
2B A. Frazier L
RF D. Moore R
LF S. Haggerty S
Seattle Mariners vs Framber Valdez
Again, I am so impressed with Valdez’s consistency. Yet he’s putting together his career year this season.
He’s averaging about 6 ⅓ innings per start this season and has pitched to a 2.66 ERA. Valdez has posted a ridiculous 67.2% ground-ball rate this season. To put that into context, Logan Webb is second with 56.7% and Sandy Alcantara is third with 56.4%.
Valdez is your classic sinkerballer who avoids barrels better than 87% of qualified pitchers. However, he’s also able to force outs with a plus-curveball and a plus-changeup. Both of those pitches have accumulated a -5 Run Value this season.
Seattle has posted one of the best wRC+ over the past month, and a lot of that is thanks to the breakout of Julio Rodriguez. J-Rod is now the favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year, and he’s slashed .293/.351/.535 after an abysmal April.
Houston Astros vs Seattle Mariners Pick & Prediction
My picks: Houston Astros ML (-110 at WynnBet Sportsbook)
With odds this short, I love backing the Astros with Valdez on the mound against the Mariners with Ray.
The Mariners are also still slightly overvalued in the short term because of their winning streak. No baseball team can win games at the level Seattle has over the past few weeks, and you’ll get the best prices fading the Mariners in the coming 10 days.
I’ll take advantage of that in this spot and back a Houston team that has taken four of the last six against their divisional foe.