The last time they took the field, the Houston Astros lost Game 7 of the World Series at home. The club has undergone plenty of change this offseason, partly due to the sign-stealing scandal. Houston opens defense of its AL West title against the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
How to Bet Mariners at Astros MLB Odds & TV Info
- When: Friday, 9:10 PM ET
- Where: Minute Maid Park
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Marco Gonzales/Justin Verlander
- TV: MLB Network
- Stream: MLB.tv
- Radio: http://mlb.mlb.com/media/player/mpa/?c_id=mlb
- Opening MLB Lines: Astros -280, Mariners +250 (total 7.5)
Why Bet on Seattle?
Last year, the Mariners were last in the AL West at 68-94. They were are 55-21 when scoring at least 5 runs but Mariners are 13-73 (.151) when scoring 4 or fewer runs; that marks their lowest winning percentage when scoring 4 or fewer runs in single-season club history (previous: .185/10-44, 1996).
In addition, the team’s Mariners 5.01 ERA was 3rd-highest in club history, behind the 1999 Mariners (5.24/834 ER, 1433.2 IP) and the 1996 Mariners (5.21/829 ER, 1431.2 IP).
One bright spot was Mallex Smith, who led the majors with 47 steals last year. He became the 2nd Mariner to lead the Majors in steals (also: Ichiro Suzuki, 56, 2001) and the 4th Mariner to lead the American League in steals: Harold Reynolds (60, 1987), Brian Hunter (44, 1999) and Ichiro (56, 2001). Smith’s 47 stolen bases tied for 5th-most in single-season club history.
It’s ace lefty Marco Gonzales on the mound here. The 28-year-old left-hander scored a four-year, $30 million contract extension from the Mariners in February. Last year, Gonzales was 1 of 5 pitchers in the Major Leagues this season with at least 16 wins, 200.0 innings pitched and 19 quality starts. Gonzales was the first Mariner to accomplish this feat since Félix Hernández in 2015 (18 W, 201.2 IP, 20 QS) and the first Mariners left-hander to accomplish this feat since Jamie Moyer in 2003 (21 W, 215.0 IP, 22 QS).
Because of the short buildup, Mariners starters will be on pitch counts early in the season. While he didn’t get up to the 80-85 pitches he might have built up to in a normal Spring Training, Gonzales felt he was able to get enough out of Summer Camp both in terms of buildup, and competition.
“My number one priority is to eat up as many innings as I can and go out and win a ballgame,” he said. “With a six-man rotation we get a little rest. I wanted to push it a little more, get over 50 pitches. My goal is for 5- to 6-plus (innings in Houston), as many as I can go.”Why Bet on Houston?
The Astros won 107 games last year and won the AL West by 10 games — finishing 29 games ahead of the Rangers, 35 ahead of the Angels. However, Houston was upset in the World Series by Washington.
The Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow in January following Major League Baseball’s sign-stealing investigation. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Luhnow and Hinch for a year for their role in using electronic equipment to steal signs, but team owner Jim Crane said he wanted to go a step further. The Astros organization was also fined $5 million and they were stripped of first- and second-round draft picks in 2020-2021.
Crane then hired Dusty Baker to replace Hinch. The deal is for one year and includes a team option for the 2021 season. Baker, 70, becomes the oldest manager in the major leagues. Having last managed the Washington Nationals in 2017, he ranks 15th in career wins with a 1,863-1,636 record over 22 seasons. He guided the San Francisco Giants to the National League pennant in 2002. About the only thing Baker hasn’t done is win a World Series.
The Astros may open the season without closer Roberto Osuna as he is yet to throw off a mound since arriving late to Astros summer camp. Baker has said that Ryan Pressly will “probably” open as the primary closer if Osuna is not ready. The 31-year-old right-hander Pressley owns a dominant 1.85 ERA and 104/15 K/BB ratio in 77 2/3 total innings with Houston since being acquired from the Twins in mid-2018.
It’s ace Justin Verlander on the mound, and he comes off winning his second career Cy Young in 2019. Verlander was the fourth Astros pitcher to win the Cy Young Award and second in the AL, joining Dallas Keuchel (2015). Mike Scott (1986) and Roger Clemens (2004) won the award in the National League. In 34 starts last year, Verlander went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA with 300 strikeouts, a 0.80 WHIP in 223 innings. His WHIP was the second-lowest in the last 100 years. Verlander led the Majors in batting average against (.172), which was the seventh-lowest since 1900.
Verlander wouldn’t have been ready for the original Opening Day due to a groin injury the required surgery. Verlander has instituted a new delivery during summer camp in hopes that it will help keep him healthy.
For Verlander, this will mark his 12th career Opening Day start, his eighth consecutive and his third straight for the Astros. Only nine pitchers in MLB history have 12 career Opening Day starts, with eight of those nine being Hall of Famers.Game Trends
- Mariners are 33-69 in their last 102 games as an underdog.
- Mariners are 1-4 in their last 5 during game 1 of a series.
- Astros are 37-14 in their last 51 home games.
- Astros are 52-21 in their last 73 Friday games.
- Mariners are 1-11 in the last 12 meetings in Houston.
- Mariners are 14-38 in the last 52 meetings.
Expert PredictionAstros 5, Mariners 1