MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Astros vs. Mariners: Will Houston’s Offense Continue Upwards Trend? (July 27)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Astros vs. Mariners: Will Houston’s Offense Continue Upwards Trend? (July 27) article feature image
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Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Dylan Moore rounds the bases after his grand slam on Tuesday.

  • The Seattle Mariners are in the playoff hunt and surging after a thrilling comeback win on Monday night.
  • Houston is looking to take down a divisional foe and solidify its position atop the standings.
  • Kenny Ducey breaks down tonight's AL West showdown and makes his betting pick below.

Astros vs. Mariners Odds

Astros Odds -155
Mariners Odds +125
Over/Under 8 (-115 / -105)
Time 10:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Tuesday morning and via BetMGM.

After one of the wildest comebacks of the season, the Seattle Mariners will see what they have left in the tank on Tuesday night when they try to make it five in a row and clinch a series win over the Houston Astros.

Could there be value in buying low on Lance McCullers Jr. and Houston, or is Seattle a wagon worth staying on? Let’s dig into the numbers below.

The Curious Case of the Houston Astros

The Astros are a curious case. They were undeniably the best team in baseball for the majority of the first half before a devastating slump killed most of their momentum. Yet, through it all, there’s been little doubt that Houston will ultimately emerge victorious in the AL West, and a recent recovery to the tune of five wins in seven games seems to spell trouble with the division lead already at five games.

While it seems like an inevitability, Monday was proof that the Mariners are very much a team in the hunt just six games back, as does the play of the A’s out in Oakland. It’s going to be imperative to capture as many series wins as possible against those two teams, making Tuesday’s game all the more important.

The Houston offense has caught fire over the last week, with the third-best wRC+ in the league and a gaudy 11 home runs. The key has been the return of its contact hitting, striking out just 18.3% of the time, and the team’s also ranked second in walk rate over that span. Things appear to be operating as normal again, at least for this unit.

Pitching has been another story for the Astros, whose bullpen own a 4.31 xFIP over the last week to rank in the bottom half in the league. The relievers on this team had a pretty miserable first half before things turned around at the start of the summer, but the hope will be here that Monday was a flash in the pan and not a sign of regression.

Dusty Baker will hope he won’t have to use his bullpen with McCullers, who has a 2.70 career ERA against the Mariners and had been cruising up until a clunker against the Indians. His 3.04 ERA has been backed by a 3.24 xERA, although walks have been an issue at times.

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Flexen Will Look to Flex Against Houston’s Potent Lineup

The Mariners’ playoff probability continues to increase with each passing day, and a fourth straight win over an AL West opponent on Monday put them firmly back in the race for the division. Now just six back, Seattle will have two cracks at grabbing a series win over mighty Houston, but Tuesday’s will probably be its best shot.

That’s because the ball will be in the hands of Chris Flexen, who has been absolutely lights out in 2021, seemingly out of nowhere. Entering the rotation after spending a year in the KBO, the Mets castaway has expertly limited walks at just a 5.2% rate and pitched effectively to contact, considering his 15.6% strikeout rate is extremely low. The last time he faced the Astros was back in April, when he allowed just one run but yielded a whopping 10 hits. He’s grown a lot since then, but so has Houston.

It’s not as if Flexen’s season is a fluke, but the matchup is a bit terrifying. He pitches to contact, and will face the most contact-happy team in the league in the Astros, who also rank eighth with a strong 40.5% hard-hit rate this year and a league-leading 16.2% of hard hit balls per swing. The lack of strikeout stuff will only stand to make it more improbable that Flexen can make it through unscathed.

Astros-Mariners Pick

There’s the tough matchup for Flexen against a Houston team that puts almost everything in play, and then there’s the even tougher matchup for the Seattle offense against McCullers. The righty has top-shelf strikeout stuff with nearly 28% of all hitters getting punched out, and the Mariners have really struggled in that department all season long and particularly over the last week. Seattle has struck out 29.7% of the time over that span, which is the second-highest rate in the league.

The Astros’ offense is trending up once again, and with some support from McCullers I think this team is a deserving favorite. I’ll drink the juice here up to -160.

Pick: Astros ML (-155)

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