Friday is the start of the weekend as well as another weekend series between American League West rivals. The Seattle Mariners travel to Houston to take on the first-place Astros for a three-game set.
The Astros made waves throughout the baseball world on Wednesday, trading for Zack Greinke, among others, at the trade deadline. Greinke joins Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole to form one of the most formidable rotations in baseball. The Astros also acquired relievers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini from the Jays, as well as catcher Martin Maldonado from the Cubs.
Meanwhile, the Mariners traded away starter Mike Leake as well as relievers Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland as they begin a rebuild. Heading into the home stretch of the season, the Astros sit comfortably in first place at 70-40, a smooth 23.5 games ahead of the 47-64 Mariners, who sit in last place in the division.
For the Mariners, prized 2019 offseason acquisition Yusei Kikuchi will make his 23rd start of the season. Kikuchi has not nearly lived up to expectations in his first season in America after signing from Japan earlier this year. Kikuchi is 4-7 with a 5.21 earned run average. Kikuchi has flashed some of what the Mariners were expecting at times this season but has mostly been a bust considering his three-year, $43 million contract.
He has only pitched more than six innings on four occasions this season, including his last start against Detroit. He went 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and striking out four. However, over his last 11 starts, he’s only 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA.
Left-hander Wade Miley will get the ball for the Astros and make his 23rd start this season. Miley is 9-4 with a 3.06 earned run average and is having his best season since his first full year in the Majors in 2012. His strikeouts are deceiving, with only a 7.53 K/9, but his K% is over 20%, which is very respectable. That is thanks to a newly revamped change-up, which is easily his best pitch.
Fangraphs has it ranked at 9.4 runs above average, which is terrific. More bad news for Mariners fans is that Miley is almost untouchable in Houston. His home splits are incredible, with a 1.92 ERA and an opposing batting average of .192.
Batter To Watch
I’m going to use this section to feature a guy that has been saving my fantasy team lately, and that is Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel is on pace to have the most plate appearances in his four-year career, and he is not disappointing. His batting average is hovering around .300, and he has hit 20 home runs and driven in 68 runs. Do you want an absolutely mind-blowing stat? He played in 24 games in the month of July. Want to know how many of those he didn’t record a hit? One. One game.
It’s hard to pick against the Astros. It’s almost impossible to do it against the Mariners of all teams. Take the easy money and pick Houston.