Astros vs Mariners Picks, Odds for ALDS Game 1
Logan Riely/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Verlander
Mariners vs. Astros Game 1 Odds
|Time||3:37 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
After 21 years, the Seattle Mariners proved they are not going down without a fight. Seattle went on the road and swept the Toronto Blue Jays and did so in miraculous fashion as it came back from down 8-1 to win Game 2. The prize is a date with the Houston Astros.
The team with the best record in the American League during the regular season is well-rested and raring to go. If there's anyone who couldn't be more ready, it's Astros ace Justin Verlander. The 39-year-old had a likely Cy Young-winning campaign in his return from Tommy John surgery as he posted a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP over 28 starts.
Opposing Verlander for Seattle will be Logan Gilbert, who had an excellent sophomore season as he cemented himself in the rotation. However, while the young righty was consistent this season, a closer look reveals that he may be in trouble in his first postseason start.
If that's true, how does that impact our angle for this matchup? Let's dive in and find out.
Can Mariners Hit Verlander?
The Mariners' lineup displayed the heart that led them to this playoff appearance. However, carrying over that momentum may be a challenging task.
These Mariners faced Verlander on six separate occasions this season, and he got the best of them in four starts. In 36 1/3 innings against Seattle, Verlander allowed 11 earned runs, and six came in one bad outing.
The starts from this season are a part of a long track record of domination against this Mariners lineup. Verlander has faced these bats a combined 250 times over the course of his career. Thus far, they have hit just .212 and have a 24.6 strikeout percentage.
It doesn't end there, as Verlander's numbers should be even better. Seattle has an average exit velocity of 88 mph against Houston's ace. That makes its xBA .201 and xwOBA .275.
With no indications of the Verlander slowing down, the extra rest and positive regression expected, he should be as sharp as ever in this series opener. That is bad news for the upstart Mariners.
Gilbert Has Work Cut Out For Him
We go from one starter trending in the right direction to another overdue for a bad outing. Gilbert has been excellent in the middle of the Mariners' rotation this season, but looking at his underlying metrics will make you very concerned.
Gilbert finished the season in the bottom five percent of the league in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. Those two numbers alone explain why his FIP is 3.46, and his xERA is 4.11. However, he has been fighting off the regression for most of the season, and he did fantastic against this Astros lineup.
His four outings against them were all quality starts, and he racked up 22 strikeouts in 25 innings. However, the numbers say that the Astros are due, and this is not the lineup that you want due against you.
Houston finished the season in the top ten in wRC+ and wOBA while also being in the top five in ISO. A big part of that production was Yordan Alvarez, who may have been in the MVP conversation if he didn't miss 27 games this season.
However, what's interesting about Gilbert is that he has reverse splits, meaning that righties hit him much better than lefties. Those have been apparent against the Astros, and two of their staples have been the ones to capitalize on it. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are each hitting over .400 off Gilbert and have done so with power.
I expect them to get things going at the top of the order and set things up for the power lefties behind them.
We have been waiting for Gilbert to implode all season, and this may be the spot for it. It will be his first postseason start on the road against one of baseball's most potent lineups, with loads of postseason experience.
Then on the other side, Houston has a future Hall of Famer going, coming off one of the best seasons of his career. Not to mention, he's already proven to dominate this lineup.
There are multiple ways to play this game, but the best is to fade Gilbert and back Verlander in the early going.
Pick: Astros F5 -0.5 (-130)