The Houston Astros look to get one step closer toward securing the AL West title on Tuesday night as they continue their series with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners won Monday’s series opener 4-1. However, the Astros are massive -225 favorites to win Tuesday’s game.
Despite Monday’s loss, the Astros are 12-3 since the calendar flipped to September. That has allowed them to stay ahead of the surging Oakland A’s atop the division. The Astros are currently four games clear of Oakland with a magic number of nine to clinch the division, so while Houston is in good shape, their work is not done yet.
Meanwhile, Seattle will officially be eliminated from the AL West race if they lose on Tuesday. Despite winning four of their last five games, the Mariners are all but out of the playoff picture, as they are still seven games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot. However, their recent play indicates that they haven’t finished fighting.
And You Would Be…
Rookie Josh James will get the start for the Astros on Tuesday. The 25-year old is a former 34th round draft pick who made his major league debut on September 1. He’s made one start and two relief appearances for the Astros since then, posting a 4.23 ERA over 10.2 innings. He actually started the season in double-A, so he’s come a long way over the past year but posted solid numbers in this minors this season.
Needless to say, James has never faced any of the hitters in Seattle’s lineup. The key for him will be keeping the ball in the ballpark. The Mariners boast several notable power hitters, including Mitch Haniger, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, who are all hitting over .300 over the past week. The Mariners are averaging better than five runs a game over their last five games, so they may be able to have some success against the rookie.
No Leak’s Here
Mike Leake will take the ball for the Mariners. He’s been one of Seattle’s best starters this season, going 10-9 with a 3.99 ERA. Over his last two starts, Leake has allowed just one earned run in 13 innings of work, winning both starts, so this is definitely the guy the Mariners want on the mound to help keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Of course, facing the Astros is no picnic. Leake has started against Houston three times this season but has yet to get a win. He’s actually fared well against Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa in his career. However, Alex Bregman and Marwin Gonzalez have done some damage against Leake. He also has to watch out for Yuli Gurriel and George Springer, who have both come on strong lately. No matter how you slice it, there are few places for a pitcher to breathe easy against Houston’s lineup.
Staying Alive for Another Day
It’s almost puzzling how the Astros are such heavy favorites with a rookie pitcher on the mound. Obviously, the Astros can out-slug anyone, but there’s no upside to betting on them with these odds. If the Mariners stay hot and get to James, there’s a much bigger payoff. Bet on the Mariners +225 to beat the Astros on Tuesday.