Taijuan Walker (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Seattle Mariners struck first, but it didn’t matter in the end, as the Houston Astros woke up in the 5th inning to erase a 2-1 deficit. The Astros didn’t look back from there. They poured it on to take a 8-2 lead by the end of the 7th inning. Justin Verlander was efficient on Opening Day for the Astros as well.
We’ve seen Verlander in better form before, but it was still an easy day at the office. JV went 6 innings with 3 hits and 2 earned runs conceded. Kyle Seager is one of the only hitters in the Mariners’ lineup that has been able to figure Verlander out, and he did it again on Friday with a deep ball for one of the two Mariners’ runs.
This is going to be a rough season for the Mariners. Last night might be a glimpse into what’s to come in Seattle. They will win some games, but even with the expanded playoffs, it is highly unlikely that the Mariners are going to be playing baseball in the postseason. Kyle Seager would be a nice player for a team that already has talent, but I’m not sure he is going to work as the anchor of the offense.
It took the Astros’ offense a minute to get going last night, and I assume they were getting criticized on social media early on, but they opened up and got into a groove in the 5th. The Astros must be feeling motivated after being identified as cheaters for months. Houston would want nothing more than to stick the finger to their critics. They’ve become the most hated team in baseball, impressively taking away that honor from the New York Yankees.
The Mariners were getting quality work out of Marco Gonzales before a sprang a leak. He had to take the loss after getting roughed up in the 5th inning. Everything was going smoothly until then, but the Astros are a team that have the potential to explode in any inning. They did it last night and could again today.
Two pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery. Taijuan Walker, who has made just one appearance since undergoing surgery in 2018, is expected on the hill Saturday. Lance McCullers Jr. missed all of last season after having to sit out because of the surgery. Head below for our free Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros pick for July 25, 2020 in MLB.
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Seattle Mariners vs. Houston Astros Prediction:
The Mariners are keeping their fingers crossed with Taijuan Walker after his surgery. An already thin rotation would take an additional beating if Walker can’t get through this 60-day season. Walker spent the first four years of his career with the Mariners from 2013 to 2016.
In his first full season in the rotation, Walker posted an ERA of 4.56 and 1.19 WHIP. It wasn’t until he landed in the desert with the Diamondbacks until Walker reached his full potential. He recorded an ERA of 3.49 and 1.33 WHIP in 2017 in 28 games with the Diamondbacks, and then followed up to prove it was no fluke with a 3.46 ERA the following season.
Since then, the only work Walker has received was an inning last year with the D-backs. The Mariners brought Walker back for their rotation in 2020. I can see Walker being serviceable, but I’m not too optimistic that he’s going to match what he was doing in 2018. The power numbers for the Astros have been good against Walker. The Astros’ current roster has connected for 8 home runs in 60 at-bats versus him. Overall, they are hitting .277 with a .323 against Walker in his career.
Lance McCullers was a reliable mid-tier option in the Astros’ rotation before his season was derailed in 2018. At the time, McCullers had a 3.86 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 25 games. In three out of four seasons, McCullers has finished with an ERA below the 4.00 mark. As a 26-year-old, McCullers is still young despite feeling like an older veteran. He’s been around less than it feels like. There is still plenty of time for McCullers to be an even better pitcher.
The Mariners’ hitters have seen McCullers in 38 at-bats, and McCullers has buried them for a .105 batting average. Kyle Seager is the only hitter that has taken McCullers deep in his career. Other than Seager and Dee Gordon, no one else on the Seattle roster has had a hit against McCullers. That will change today, though I’m still feeling confident in the Astros again on Saturday. A win for the Astros by 2 or more runs is probable at Minute Maid Park.