With two games down in a series that could begin to shape the rest of the season for both of these AL West foes, the Astros and Mariners have one more game in Houston this Sunday. Things could look very different when these teams meet again in Seattle during the last week of the regular season, so both teams will look to make a lasting impression. Let’s take a look at the odds for this Sunday afternoon ballgame, where my prediction is for the Astros to cover a spread of -1.5 at +110 odds.
Mariners vs. Astros Prediction
The Astros are on the verge of a fairly embarrassing sweep. This is not to say that the Mariners aren’t a respectable opponent- they’re just a game and a half behind Houston as of Saturday night. It’s just far from optimal to throw two strong starting pitchers at home and still find yourself in an 0-2 series hole, especially in the dog days of August in the midst of a brutal division and wild card race.
After a relatively disappointing start to the season, the Mariners are suddenly a lot closer to living up to the unusually high expectations built up after last year saw the end of a playoff drought that had lasted over two decades. Amidst a five game winning streak, they’ve finally worked their way into the American League playoff picture, but just barely; they’re only a half game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays for the sixth seed.
Neither team is throwing a guy who could be considered anything close to an ace. Seattle’s starter will be rookie righty Emerson Hancock, who has thrown a grand total of two MLB games this season and thus in his career. The early results have been mixed; his debut was a very solid one, as he allowed just one run, but he got hit pretty hard by none other than the Kansas City Royals in his second outing. It’ll be interesting to see how the 24 year old bounces back from his first big league adversity, but more than that, it’s not a stretch to imagine that an experienced, championship team like the Astros could do some damage against a pitcher in his third-ever MLB appearance.
Houston’s Sunday starter, Hunter Brown has fine overall numbers, but hasn’t been particularly effective of late; he’s given up multiple earned runs in each of his past seven starts, and in three outings, he’s allowed four or more. After the last start in that stretch, he was moved to the bullpen and had a solid two-inning outing, and has since been moved back to the rotation.
The total is a pretty easy call; both offenses are trending up, and neither starting pitcher is one in which I want to invest, so we’re going with the over. Betting a result is a tougher call, as the Astros should win, but a -185 moneyline doesn’t provide much value. As much as I’d like to believe in the youngster, this is a really tough third start for Hancock, and I could see Houston pulling away with this one, so let’s grab a bit of plus-odds value by taking the Astros to cover a spread of -1.5.
Mariners vs. Astros Prediction: Astros -1.5 (+110), o9 runs (+105)
Mariners vs. Astros Odds
The Astros are home favorites at -185, while the Mariners are set at +154. For a run total of 9, the over is +105 while the under is -125
Mariners vs. Astros Key Matchups
List out a couple of key matchups to watch out for this game. 1-2 is fine.
Hunter Brown Vs. Hard Hitters
Brown does pretty well in terms of limiting walks, and doesn’t give up too many home runs, but he allows a good amount of hard hits and barrels. Let’s take a look at some Mariners who can really crush the ball and give him some trouble.
Julio Rodríguez must be mentioned in any discussion of the Seattle offense right now. The electrifying young star just set an MLB record with 17 hits in four games, and his OPS has jumped from .751 to .800 during the streak. Statcast also shows us that he hits the ball quite solidly, ranking in the mid-90s percentiles for hard hit percentage and average exit velocity. Teoscar Hernández hasn’t lit up the stat sheet the way he might want to, but he does light up the radar gun with good hard hit metrics. Lastly, veteran Eugenio Suárez can still rip, as he hits the ball harder than about 70% of the league, in addition to barreling it up more often than 85% of hitters.
Emerson Hancock Vs. Astros Stars
With just two games in the books, there aren’t really any meaningful trends in Hancock’s numbers. One thing that jumps out is an OPS allowed over 1.000 for the two first spots in the lineup, which more or less just says that he has the toughest time with the best hitters. This is hardly a revelation, but it’s worth looking into with some very prolific bats at the top of the Houston batting order.
Luckily for Hancock, he may not have to face Kyle Tucker, who has missed time as he deals with illness. That being said, there’s still plenty of star power at the top of the lineup. José Altuve is back from injury, and playing to his usual standard with a team-best OPS of .952 in limited time. Yordan Álvarez, who has also only played 78 games, is right behind him with a figure of .943 to go along with 21 homers.
Alex Bregman isn’t hitting at the highest level we’ve seen from him, but his 3.4 WAR is only behind Tucker’s for Houston. This core has won championships, and their ability to hit Hancock is a major reason I have the Astros covering a spread of -1.5 in my Mariners vs. Astros prediction.
Mariners vs. Astros Starting Lineups
Mariners Starting Lineup
CF J. Rodriguez R
3B E. Suarez R
1B T. France R
RF T. Hernandez R
C C. Raleigh S
2B D. Moore R
SS J. Caballero R
LF C. Marlowe L
RF S. Haggerty S
Astros Starting Lineup
2B J. Altuve R
3B A. Bregman R
DH Y. Álvarez L
RF C. McCormick R
1B Y. Díaz R
LF M. Dubón R
SS J. Peña R
CF J. Meyers R
C M. Maldonado R