The Seattle Mariners will open a series on the road against the Houston Astros, who have had a strong second half of the year and taken control of the AL West race. Seattle has won four of their last five and appears to be trending in the right direction after a down year last season, they’re 9 games over .500 at 65-56 and are 5.5 games back of the Astros. Houston has seen their lead slip to just 2 games after losing four of their last five games, avoiding being swept by the Royals with a win in extra innings.
Houston is the best offense in the MLB this season, they simply put the ball in play hitting a league-high .266 as a team, striking out the least in the MLB, and leading the league in scoring offense with 5.30 runs per game. The depth of the Astros is the danger with a loaded lineup that has 7+ all-star caliber players, Jose Altuve is leading the way with 25 home runs and has driven in 66 runs on the year.
The Astros rotation is also very strong and Lance McMullers Jr. will get the start, he’s having a solid season going 9-4 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 114.2 innings of work. McCullers Jr. is just 27-years-old but is experienced with six years in the big leagues and has registered a career-high 10.7K/9 and thus far is below his career 3.61 ERA. In his last start, he allowed two runs on six hits in 5 ⅔ innings and struck out eight while issuing just a single walk.
Seattle has surprised a lot of people this year and has a realistic shot at a playoff bid, but this is an important series. The Mariners have struggled offensively hitting just .222 as a team, last in the MLB, and scoring 4.17 runs per game, ranking 21st in the MLB. Third baseman Kyle Seager continues to be the stable piece at third base, he’s leading the team with 78 RBIs and 27 home runs.
The left-hander Yusei Kikuchi will get the start for the Mariners and hope to continue his solid start to the year going 7-6 with a 3.82 ERA on the year. He struggled in his last outing allowing three runs on five hits, and walked four, in just 4 ⅓ innings of work but the Mariners were able to battle back to win 9-3 over the Blue Jays. Kikuchi has shown a lot of improvement this season with the strikeout numbers up, walks down and ERA an WHIP way down from his career numbers.