Mariners vs. Astros, Best of 5
The Astros are the top dog in the American League and even as Mariners manager, Scott Servais said, the road to the World Series was going to go through them at some point. Now we see the next test for this young Mariners ballclub. The Astros have been there before, they know what it takes and have been sitting at home waiting for action.
Starting with the Astros, we saw them handle the Mariners with relative ease in the regular season. Over 19 games, the Astros went 12-7 against the Mariners. To me, the edge here starts, and ends, with the pitching staff. Justin Verlander is likely to be the Cy Young winner. Framber Valdez set the record for most consecutive quality starts in a season, and then you have Lance McCullers Jr, Cristian Javier, and Luis Garcia who all are really good. Their bullpen could be a weak link, but unlike many other teams, the starters are all relied upon to get deep into the game. And, by weak link, I don't mean they have a terrible bullpen or something, but I think this is one of the few teams with a significantly better starting pitching staff than bullpen staff. There are a few spots in the lineup where we can see some holes, but they are hidden pretty well.
One of the biggest advantages that the Astros have here is they can stack up their pitching staff however they want. The Mariners might not have that luxury as they will either turn to Luis Castillo on a bit shorter of rest or Logan Gilbert with extra rest. Neither of those options are ideal for taking on Verlander. Still, the way the Mariners took out the Blue Jays has to give a lot of confidence to the hitters. In the first game they pounced and scored quickly off of Alek Manoah (another potential Cy Young candidate) and then they came back from down seven runs in the second game. In order to make sure that wasn't just a fun series for them, they will need more of that playoff magic here.
It isn't by much, but the Astros are the heaviest favorite at -220. It doesn't surprise me that they are the favorite, I am thinking there is a bit of value on the Mariners just on how well they are playing. But this is kind of like when the big brother plays the little brother. Unless everything goes right, it will be hard for the little brother to win. I think I'm going to take the Astros to win Game 1 and the Series at -110. It goes on my thought of Verlander taking the opener and I think they should win the series.
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