Mariners vs. Astros Odds
|Time||Wednesday, 8:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday and via PointsBet|
The Seattle Mariners have been shut down in the first two games of their series against the Houston Astros, scoring just two runs between their two losses.
After a hot start, the Mariners have lost four of their last five games and may be regressing. Meanwhile, after a mediocre start, the 12-11 Astros have won five of their last six games.
Houston enters this game as a heavy favorite, which is justifiable given the recent performance of both teams and the starting-pitching matchup. But I still think there’s value on the heavy favorite.
At 13-11, the Mariners have been much better than expected early in 2021.
However, the statistics are in line with their record. Seattle boasts a run differential of -1 while ranking 13th in both wRC+ (96) and FIP (4.16). The Mariners have been a slightly above average team.
However, it’s been fun to watch Seattle play and succeed so far. In fact, it has been one of the most profitable teams to bet on in the early going, having gone 12-9 as an underdog this season.
Offensively, Ty France and Mitch Haniger have been carrying the load. France is boasting a .408 wOBA, while Haniger has already recorded five home runs and 17 RBI.
Meanwhile, Chris Flexen has been Seattle’s best pitcher, boasting a 2.74 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in his four starts. In the bullpen, closer Rafael Montero has recorded three saves on top of a 2.61 ERA and 0.77 WHIP.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Dunn (RHP)
Dunn is in his third year with the Mariners and became an important part of the rotation last season, when he made 10 starts.
Dunn’s big problem is his control issues. After posting a 15.7% walk rate last year, he’s currently at 16.9% in 2021. He walked 31 batters in 45 2/3 innings last season and is at 11 through 14 2/3 so far. Dunn also gives up a lot of long balls, having allowed 1.97 HR/9 last season and boasts a 1.23 HR/9 in 2021.
Given Dunn’s trouble with walks and home runs, it’s predictable his FIP and xFIP would be high. And they are, as both numbers have hovered around 6.00 over the past two seasons.
Dunn features an apparently ineffective three-pitch mix, primarily throwing a four-seam fastball with a good amount of curveballs and sliders. He’s never thrown the fastball very hard, but he’s throwing it over 2 mph faster than he did last season (93.4 in 2021 compared to 91.2 last season). It hasn’t helped much, however, since he’s allowing an average exit velocity of 92 mph on the pitch and opposing hitters posted a .482 wOBA and .667 SLG on the heater in 2020.
Dunn’s off-speed stuff has been more effective. His curveball has a lot of movement on it, to the tune of 87% more horizontal break than the league-average curveball. His slider has been his most effective pitch, having thrown 40 of them this season and allowing just a .053 wOBA.
Houston has been ravaged by COVID-19 troubles in early 2021. However, the Astros have managed to tread water and are now in prime position to break out.
Despite having a 12-11 record, the Astros boast a run differential of +23, which is best in the American League. As mentioned, the Astros have won five of their last six games, and the offense has really picked up the pace.
Over the past seven days, the Astros have posted a .334 wOBA and a 124 wRC+, both of which rank fourth in the majors over that span. They also have the fourth-highest batting average (.260) and have scored the fourth-most runs (106) over that stretch.
During their early-season COVID struggles, Yuli Gurriel has dragged the Astros along. He has a .447 wOBA, 1.033 OPS and 16.8% walk rate so far. Plus, he’s been red hot recently, recording a .500 average, 1.467 OPS, two home runs and seven RBI over his past four games.
Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke (RHP)
Eighteen years into his incredible career, Greinke continues to produce.
Contrary to Dunn, Greinke is one of the best control pitchers in the league. He currently boasts a 3.1% walk rate in 2021, which would be the lowest of his career. That’s more impressive when you consider he’s finished in the top 7% among pitchers in walk rate every season since 2016.
Greinke still primarily relies on his four-seam fastball, but he’s lost some heat on it. After years of hanging around 90 mph, his fastball averaged just 88.5 mph last season and is sitting at 88.1 so far.
Regardless, Greinke is still great at forcing weak contact. So far this season, he sits in the 89th percentile in average exit velocity and in the 85th percentile in hard-hit percentage.
Greinke has made five starts and has posted a 2.75 ERA, 2.93 xERA and 1.10 WHIP. And if you take away a disastrous start against the Tigers, against whom he allowed six runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings, he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Greinke pitched against the Mariners earlier this season and absolutely obliterated their lineup. He threw eight shutout innings while allowing just four hits and striking out six.
Good luck again, Seattle.
While Houston is a heavy favorite, I think it’s very justifiable. And given the pitching matchups and recent offensive performances of the two teams, I actually think the Astros run line provides great value in this spot.
Greinke has been rock solid this season and matches up great with the Mariners. As mentioned, he has one of the lowest walk rates in the league, and the Mariners rank 23rd in walk rate vs. righties (8.0%). Moreover, Greinke likes to force weak contact via his fastball, and the Mariners rank 29th in MLB in weighted fastball runs created (-10.6) and average exit velocity (87.9 mph).
On the other end, the Astros lineup should be able to knock around Dunn. The Astros rank fifth this year in weighted fastball runs created (11.8) and fourth in weighted slider runs created (6.1). Not to mention that Houston’s lineup has been mashing lately while Dunn continues to have control issues.
The Astros covered the run line in both games this series, winning 2-0 on Tuesday after a 5-2 victory on Monday. Given this is the best pitching matchup the Astros will have this series, I think they easily cover the run line in this game.
Pick: Houston -1.5 -109 (play to -120)
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