MLB Pick: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros
AL West playoff contenders clash as the Astros and Mariners continue a four-game series in Houston Friday night (8:10 ET). How are we playing this contest with our daily free MLB picks?
Friday’s MLB betting odds opened the Astros and Gerrit Cole at around -230 over Seattle and Mike Leake, with an over/under of 7.5 runs. Early MLB betting action then pushed that line down as much as 20 cents at some shops, to the -210 range. BetOnline.ag currently has the best odds by quite a bit at -200.
Houston could also be found at around -115 giving the run and a half on the MLB run line. Bovada has the best price by 5 cents at the time of this writing.
Seattle grabbed the opener of this series Thursday night 8-6, cashing in as +130 underdogs on the MLB betting line against Justin Verlander. The M’s scored three runs in the top of the first inning and three more in the second, on their way to victory.
With that win Seattle is 3-2 over its last five games, following a five-game losing streak.
Even with Thursday’s loss the Astros are 6-2 over their last eight games.
Big-picture, at 73-43 Houston leads the AL West by 4.5 games over second-place Oakland. The Astros also seem about locked into the No. 2 slot in the American League playoff race, eight games back of Boston in the battle for the best record in the AL.
Meanwhile, at 66-50 Seattle sits seven games back of Houston in the divisional race, but just 2.5 games behind the A’s in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
Houston leads this season series six games to four.
On the personnel front the Astros are playing without 2B Jose Altuve and OF George Springer, who are both doing time on the DL with injuries.
Cole (10-4, 2.64), by our strict standards, is 16/23 on quality starts this season, and two for his last three. Last Sunday he gave up three runs and six hits through five innings against the Dodgers, and over his last five starts he’s allowed eight runs through 29 2/3 innings (2.43 ERA). The Astros are 17-6 with Cole this year, with unders going 11-10.
In two starts this season against the Mariners Cole allowed two earned runs and nine hits through 13 2/3 innings. Houston split those two games.
Leake (8-7, 4.16), meanwhile, is 12/23 on quality starts, and three for his last four. Last Sunday he held Toronto to three runs through 6 2/3 innings, and over his last four starts he’s allowed nine runs through 25 innings (3.24 ERA). On the season Seattle is 15-8 with Leake, with overs going 14-9.
In two starts this year against the Astros Leake allowed eight runs and 15 hits through 12 innings. The Mariners lost both those games.
We’ll give Houston and Cole our baseball handicapping check-mark for this pitching match-up.
Seattle ranks seventh in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .254 team batting average, 23rd with a .312 team OBP and 14th with a .416 team slugging percentage.
Houston ranks 15th against RHP with a .250 BA, eighth with a .326 OBP and ninth with a .421 slugging percentage.
We’d give the Astros a short edge in the battling splits for Friday, but with Altuve out we’re calling this a push.
The Mariners bullpen ranks 15th in the ML with a 4.00 ERA and 11th with a 1.25 WHIP.
The Houston pen ranks No. 1 in ERA at 3.01 and No. 1 in WHIP at 1.03.
So the Astros own the advantage in the comparison of the bullpens.
Unders are 29-27 in games played at Minute Maid Park this year, which are averaging 8.0 total runs per, sixth-fewest among all ML ballparks. Last year Houston home games averaged 8.9 runs per, so scoring is down at Minute Maid this season.
By our figuring the Astros own all three of our main baseball handicapping factors. However, betting baseball often comes down to value, especially when it comes to playing against one of these big lines. And Houston isn’t quite the same team without Altuve. We’re taking the underdog price Friday with Seattle.