The Mariners haven’t been the most consistent team this season, but they certainly have the roster to make a playoff push. With heavy hitters like Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz leading the lineup as well as deadly arms like Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in their rotation, Seattle can contend with nearly any other team. They've won six of their last nine games, and have a 40-31 record at home. The Mariners are 5-8 against the Astros this season and 3-3 at home. They'll look to take over second place in the division on Friday.
For the Astros, it’ll take a big September push for them to nail down a second consecutive playoff berth. Though they have one of the youngest squads in the MLB, their formula seems to be working these days (see: Chicago Cubs). At 75-67, Houston sits in second place in the AL West, with a second wild card spot looking quite possible right now. Even with the loss of Carlos Gomez, players like Georges Springer, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve have stepped up to lead the team. Houston’s pitching hasn’t been nearly as effective as last season, especially considering the woes of Dallas Keuchel, but their starters can still get the job done. This series is absolutely pivotal for the Astros’ playoff aspirations.
Felix “The King” Hernandez, the Mariner’s perennial ace, will take the mound on Friday. The King still owns a 3.58 ERA and an 11-5 record, despite lengthy disabled list stints during this season. In his last 11 starts, Hernandez has gone 7-1 and undefeated at home. This season, he’s 5-2 in Seattle with a 3.71 ERA. He hasn’t faced Houston yet this year, but most of the Astros have struggled against him. Though they have a .316 combined batting average when facing the King, only Jose Altuve, Colby Rasmus, and Luis Valbuena are hitting over .300 right now.
For the Astros, it’ll be Colin McHugh making the start on the road. McHugh’s had a pretty mediocre season so far, accumulating a 10-10 record and a 4.86 ERA. He’s struggled on the road though, going 4-6 with a 6.04 ERA. He’s won three of his last four starts, and owns a 3-0 record in three starts against Seattle this season. Nelson Cruz is hitting .400 against him, but the rest of the Mariners have yet to figure him out.
- Sports.net’s top tip: This is a big game for both teams, and you should expect the King to take this one personally. Back the Mariners win 6-2.