The Seattle Mariners did the impossible on Saturday afternoon, overcoming an 8-1 deficit on the road in Toronto and sweeping the Blue Jays in the Wildcard series.
That punches Seattle a ticket with the defending American League Pennant winners. The Houston Astros are eager to host the Mariners considering the likely Cy Young winner will be on the bump for Game 1.
Seattle will likely counter Justin Verlander with Logan Gilbert.
Do the Mariners have a chance? Do they pose value?
Let’s dig in. Read on for our Seattle Mariners vs Houston Astros starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Game 1 of this American League Division Series.
Seattle Mariners vs Houston Astros Odds
Houston opened around -210 on the ML and the money flowed in on the Astros. They’ve been bet as high as -230 on some books.
Given the pitching matchup and the surrounding statistics, I think I agree with the public money.
Meanwhile, the total has bounced between 6.5 and 7. I’m not sure if I see value in either number. The total is likely a stay-away for me.
Seattle Mariners vs Houston Astros Game 1 Prediction
My picks: Houston Astros F5 -0.5 (-125 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
I have doubts about Gilbert. He’s been trending down all season and he’s been overperforming his peripherals by too much.
I also love this Astros offense. They are far too talented and can beat up any pitcher.
Verlander had one letdown game against Seattle this season. He got that out of his system. He’s been dominant otherwise and only got stronger as the season went on. He posted a 1.17 ERA in September and October with a 1.07 FIP.
The Astros have a slight advantage in the bullpen, but the matchup is far too close for me to bet. I’d rather bet on the large first-half advantage I see for the Astros.
CF J. Rodriguez R
1B T. France R
RF M. Haniger R
3B E. Suarez R
DH C. Santana S
C C. Raleigh S
SS J. Crawford L
LF J. Kelenic L
2B A. Frazier L
Seattle Mariners vs Justin Verlander
The last pitcher to finish with over 175 innings pitched and an ERA under 1.75 was Pedro Martinez.
That’s the type of year Verlander is having.
Moreover, Verlander has barely pitched in the last three seasons. He missed all of 2021 and pitched just six innings in 2020. Yet he hasn’t lost a step – his fastball has picked up velocity and some extra spin.
But his putaway pitches are his slider, curveball, and changeups. The slider works away from right-handed hitters while the changeup works away from lefties. He’s got a pitch for every situation and nothing has been hittable.
Verlander isn’t perfect, however. He might be due for some negative regression considering his .240 BABIP and 3.23 xFIP. He’s struggled in the playoffs recently, pitching to a 4.33 ERA and a 5.20 FIP in the 2019 postseason run (when the Astros lost to the Nationals).
If anyone can take advantage of that, it’s the Mariners lineup. The Mariners ended the season on an offensive tear behind Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez. They are a top-10 lineup against fastballs this season (38.0 Weighted Fastball Runs Created).
However, the Mariners are a bottom-10 lineup against sliders (-13.8 Weighted Slider Runs Created) and changeups (-6.2 Weighted Changeup Runs Created). If Verlander wants to rely on his secondary pitches to shut down the Mariners, he likely could.
Verlander made six starts against the Mariners this season with a 2.34 ERA and a 3.75 xFIP. But those numbers are inflated by a six-run start against Houston in late May. Otherwise, Verlander allowed just one earned run in the other five starts.
2B J. Altuve R
SS J. Pena R
LF Y. Alvarez L
3B A. Bregman R
RF K. Tucker L
1B Y. Gurriel R
DH T. Mancini R
CF C. McCormick R
C M. Maldonado R
Houston Astros vs Logan Gilbert
Logan Gilbert is a good pitcher, but it’s hard to derive just how good.
Gilbert entered the All-Star break as an up-and-coming ace. He had pitched 111 innings with a 2.76 ERA and batters had hit .235 off him. But his xFIP was 3.78, fueled by a first-half .282 BABIP.
The regression came right on cue. Gilbert’s BABIP jumped to .305 in the second half and his ERA jumped to 3.86. He had a whopping 6.75 ERA in August. Ball don’t lie.
Gilbert finished the season especially strong. A lot of Gilbert’s play depends on his walks. He walked less than two batters per nine innings over September and October while striking out over 10. He closed the season with a 2.00 ERA while keeping his xFIP under 3.00.
He’s got a monster fastball and one that picked up extra juice over the last season. Gilbert has a great extension, too, which gives his fastball extra play
Surprisingly, Gilbert was outstanding against the deadly Astros this season. He’s pitched to a 2.52 ERA over four starts against Houston, with a FIP below 2.75.
That’s amazing. The Astros are arguably the best lineup in baseball. They have the perfect combination of plate discipline (Alex Bregman), bat-to-ball skills (Jose Altuve), and power (Yordan Alvarez).
Houston finished with a top-five ISO (.176) and a bottom-five strikeout rate (19.5%), and that’s a deadly combination. Those numbers only got better in the last month of the season.
Look out for Jeremy Pena. The rookie stepped into Carlos Correa’s role and hit 22 home runs while playing gold-glove-level defense. His eye could use some work but he’s been almost as good as Rodriguez in terms of rookie production.