The Astros and Mariners conclude their weekend series in weekend after a split the last two days. These are two teams who are vying for a spot in the postseason, anything else would be a major disappointment. Ever since the Mariners signed Robinson Cano, it became postseason or bust for Seattle. Similarly, it’s a little of the same for the Astros, but instead, they need to exceed last season. It was a nice run for the ‘Stros getting to the postseason and looking like contenders, but following a year like that, the expectations are raised even higher. And what the expectations are in this case is getting to the World Series. As a World Series’ favorite to start the season, there is no way around it, expectations are lofty there in Houston. After a false alarm early on the season, a brutal run which saw them ten games under .500. Fast forward to now and the Astros are 49-43 and back in the hunt.
The Mariners need a similar strong stretch of games, as they jumped two games above .500 with a 1-0 win yesterday. I see them being right there for a wildcard spot, but it’s probably going to come down to a game here or there for the Mariners. Cano was playing with a hernia problem a season ago, a season in which it looked like signing him was a waste of time and money. This year he has been on pace for about 40 home runs and hitting the ball with a batting average of .309. He’s the reason the Mariners have been thrust into a position of competing for the postseason, but just like the Astros, expectations have been high on the Mariners for the past two years. A solid July to September is in order for the Mariners.
Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners
Collin McHugh (5-6, 4.50 ERA) vs. Mike Montgomery (3-3, 2.06 ERA)
Mike Montgomery earned his jump to the starting rotation from the bullpen. With the limited sample size we have on him as a starter this season, Montgomery has done everything he has been asked to do. For a guy who has allowed more than 1 run just twice in any appearances this season, there haven’t been any knocks on him in his second year at the major league level. He had 16 starts a year ago, and accumulated an ERA of 4.60. He’s certainly picked it up and has been improving on his below average 2015 numbers. That is all you can ask out of a young pitcher. Montgomery went 6.1 innings against the Royals in his previous start, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits. He has gone 10.2 innings giving up just 1 single run. His last three starts produced a 1.42 ERA, with a WHIP of 0.79.
Collin McHugh, the sidekick to Dallas Keuchel, has been stuck in a circle of mediocracy this season alongside him. Keuchel has boasted an ERA of 4.80, and McHugh enters Sunday with a 4.50 ERA. It pretty much sums up why the Astros aren’t where they should be right now. McHugh hasn’t really been terrible lately, allowing 2, 2, 2, and 3 runs in his last four starts, but the Astros would love for him to find 2014 again, where he posted a 2.73 ERA. McHugh and Keuchel hold the key for the ‘Stros the rest of the way. McHugh has been hit for a 4.74 ERA and 1.42 WHIP on the road. He has never had the best outings against the Mariners, posting a mark of 4.83 in 10 starts. This should be a close one, but the Mariners should ultimately come out on top.
PICK: MARINERS TO WIN -104