Marco Gonzales (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Houston Astros will take to the field for their first meaningful game since losing to the Washongton Nationals in Game 7 of the World Series. That feels so long ago, though it was only this past October. When you get caught cheating, there are going to be people who believe the Astros should have that World Series appearance wiped off the history books. More than that, their World Series from 2017 should be gone. That’s obviously not happening. If there is any team in the major leagues who will enjoy no fans in the seats it’s going to be the Astros.
The hecklers that would have been out just to chirp the Astros would have been immense. I’m not confident, but if there’s a big drop in coronavirus cases in the coming months, then perhaps we get fans in a limited capacity for the postseason. I’m not holding my breath for that, though. With Opening Day in the Astros’ sights on Friday, they can finally start thinking about playing baseball and winning a World Series. That’s not to say criticism of the Astros is going to go away quietly, though. The one way for the Astros to quiet people is to win baseball games.
A return to the World Series for the Astros would be the biggest F U to their critics this season. In other words, I’m anticipating a lot of motivation for the Astros. The Dodgers and Yankees are getting a lot of attention from the media for their on-field production. Meanwhile, all the talk about the Astros is regarding their cheating scandal. The Astros should get criticized, rightfully so, though I have a feeling this is just going to motivate them some more, ala the New England Patriots. They don’t have Bill Belichick, but are still a talented squad that should at least be one of the better teams in the major leagues.
They’ll welcome the Seattle Mariners to Minute Maid Park on Friday night. It could be another long season for the Mariners, as they continue to traverse through a rebuilding phase. They missed the boat during the Robinson Cano era. Cano was supposed to be the guy to put them over the hump, but they didn’t get far, and the Mariners are stuck back in a losing cycle. The Mariners will have to deal with Justin Verlander on Opening Day. Marco Gonzales is expected to counter for the Mariners. Head below for our free Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros pick for July 24, 2020 in MLB.
Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros MLB Baseball Betting Odds:
Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros Prediction:
Justin Verlander will get the ball for Opening Day once again in his Hall of Fame career. Verlander was the go-to option in Detroit for the Tigers for years on Opening Day, and he continues to do the same as a 37-year-old in Houston. He’s on the back 9 of his career, but still has enough juice and velocity to carry him at 37. Verlander is coming off a predictable JV kind of season, with a 2.58 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. In his first full season with the Astros, Verlander recorded a 2.52 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 2019.
Verlander doesn’t need any motivation to get him going. He gets what should be an easy assignment on Friday to open the 60-day season. The current Mariners have been clueless versus Verlander in the past. They are hitting just .172 with a .228 OBP against Verlander in 102 at-bats.
Kyle Seager is the only Mariner to hit a home run off Verlander. Credit Seager, though, because he’s connected for 4 long balls against Verlander. He’s the one bat that Verlander will have to be careful with, especially if there are runners on base. Having said that, Verlander should be able to have his way with the Mariners on Friday.
Conversely, the ‘Stros are hitting .260 with a .372 OBP against Gonzales in 111 at-bats. Gonzales is a fine option for the Mariners, though they don’t have a true ace to speak of now. Felix Hernandez is no longer a Mariner, and he was no longer effective as a pitcher in recent memory. The goal for the Mariners now is to find the next Felix in Seattle.
That isn’t Gonzales, but he’d be a terrific mid-tier guy for a quality rotation. The 28-year-old is coming off decent seasons, with an ERA of 4.00 and 1.22 WHIP in 2018, then a 3.99 ERA and 1.31 WHIP last season. Gonzales is consistent, but I think he will be required to be even better to keep up with Verlander on Friday. Much in the same way I saw the Dodgers game playing out, expect the Mariners to keep things close early before the ‘Stros pull away late.