The Seattle Mariners once again got a superb effort out of James Paxton last night to bolster their postseason chase. They can make the wildcard game, or what I like to call, a play-in game to reach the actual postseason. The Astros are doing just fine after blasting the Blue Jays last night, as they’re lapping everyone else in the AL West. With the win, the Mariners edged a bit closer to the Royals, who currently assume a 1.5 lead. The Rays won as well, which brings them 0.5 games close of the final wildcard.
Their important series continues on Saturday, with Felix Hernandez looking to finish strong. He was such a lock to give them a solid 7 or 8 innings for countless years, but now that they’re on the cusp of getting to the postseason, Hernandez isn’t a sure thing anymore. You have Paxton who has turned into an automatic win, so you can imagine if Hernandez was soaring, too. For all intent and purposes, the Mariners would probably have a wildcard at the moment. Instead, Hernandez is having his worst year since 2006, his first full-season in the majors.
That would be the last time he finished with an ERA above 4.00, and unless something changes quickly, he’s going to finish with a 4.00+ ERA. Hernandez is on the backend of his career, while Paxton is the future. Or, at least, Paxton is going to make for one attractive trading piece on the market. The Mariners haven’t shied away from letting good pitchers leave to save a few bucks. Hernandez will look to duplicate Paxton, as he faces lefty Danny Duffy on Saturday. We’ll see if the Royals can get a game back, or if Hernandez will slam the door. Find our free Mariners vs. Royals pick at The Sports Geek below.
Seattle Mariners vs. K.C. Royals Pick
Felix Hernandez (5-4, 4.28 ERA)**Pitching Change vs. Danny Duffy (7-6, 3.42 ERA)
Hernandez hasn’t been playing exceptionally well, but he can still have a major impact on their year. If he starts to find some heat, the Mariners may inch up there overtake the Rays and Royals. There haven’t been many indications that he will, though. Hernandez has allowed 4 runs in each of his last two starts and a 4.50 ERA in his last three outings. He’s been fighting on the road, but his ERA has risen to 5.40 on the road, compared to a mark of 3.75 in Seattle. The Royals are leaving the door open, though, as they’ve lost four of their last five now.
Danny Duffy is one of those pitchers who could have had a much better career if it weren’t for injuries hampering him. When he’s healthy the guy can pitch. In three of his last four starts, he’s allowed just a run in each. Duffy holds a 2.95 ERA in his last three showings. On July 4th, he held the Mariners to 2 runs across 5.2 innings. This Royals took a 6-4 win on Thursday, before the Mariners took a win behind Paxton last night. I like the Royals to get back on top tonight against Felix and the Mariners.
PICK: ROYALS (-115)**Pitching Change