Don’t look now but the Seattle Mariners are all the sudden red-hot! The Mariners have won twelve out of their last fifteen games and have pulled into first place in the American League West. The Mariners will be looking for the sweep tonight in game three against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have been hanging around the .500 mark all season long and had won five out of six before this series in Seattle.
Starting today for the Mariners is Felix Hernandez (5-4 5.83 ERA), and for the Rays, it is Blake Snell (7-3 2.56 ERA). The Rays are small -112 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PST from Safeco Field in Seattle.
What has gotten into this Seattle Mariners team lately? They took what seemed to be a devastating loss when their superstar second basemen Robinson Cano got suspended for eighty games for violating the league’ substance abuse policy on PEDs. On top of that loss, they sent fellow All-Star Dee Gordon to the disabled list with a broken big toe. And all they have done since then is win games.
The Mariners have now taken over first place in the American League West Division. This division was thought to be a gimme for the Houston Astros this season, with only maybe the Los Angeles Angels putting up any kind of real fight. Yet here we are, with the Mariners leading the way with the third best record in the American League. One place the Mariners have struggled recently is with their ageing superstar Felix Hernandez.
Once the King of Seattle, Hernandez has seemingly lost his best stuff. Felix is still a tough competitor, but he can’t seem to string together good innings of work anymore. Even while winning a bunch of games recently, the Mariners have lost Hernandez’s last two starts and three of his last five. In the month of May, Hernandez pitched thirty-three and a third innings and has given up twenty-six runs. He gave up five runs in three of those six starts. He has given up at least two earned runs in every start since shutting out the Indians on Opening Day. The productivity just hasn’t been their this season for Hernandez.
The Rays will start Blake Snell looking to salvage one game of this series. Snell is pitching very well this season. He has had a couple of blowup games, like when he gave up five runs in three and a third innings two weeks ago against the Baltimore Orioles or when he gave up five runs in three and a third against the New York Yankees back in April. But besides those couple of rough patches, Snell has been very good.
His 2.45 ERA is good for sixth in the American League, and his seven wins are tied for third in the AL. That is pretty impressive for a guy playing for a Rays team that hasn’t been above .500 most of the year. It will be interesting to see if Snell can shut down this streaking Mariners team at home today.
Felix Hernandez is running on reputation alone at this point. He just isn’t the guy he used to be. And when I look at the numbers on this game they just don’t add up. Snell has been very good, yet he is basically even money against Hernandez who has been atrocious. The fact that the Mariners are really hot right now scares me off touching the game line for this one though. I just can’t back Hernandez right now, but I don’t want to step in front of the freight train that has been the Mariners over the last several weeks, so I’ll lay off picking a side.
When I look at the game total and see it is only seven and a half runs, I see a ton of value jumping on the over. Game totals in the seven and seven and a half range are generally reserved for two elite pitchers matching up. This game only has one guy that is elite right now, and another guy that is trading on his name alone. And shockingly people are still jumping on the under as it currently sits at under 7.5 runs at -115. We can pick up reduced juice on the over, and I am going to snatch it up. You should monitor this number as if the early action continues to come in on the under it may shift down to seven runs before first pitch.
Hernandez can push this game over all by himself, and even though this Rays offense is fairly weak, almost everyone is getting to Felix right now. The one spot where Hernandez has really struggled this season? In day games. In his five starts during the day, Felix is 1-4 with a 7.07 ERA. He has given up seven homers in those five starts. Yikes. Maybe the Mariners should turn Felix into a vampire and make sure he doesn’t come out and see the sun.
All told, I see this game gliding to the over early. Hernandez has been bad early in games, and the Mariners tend to score a lot of runs for him. So, expect the Rays to hit him early and often and for the Mariners to support their ageing star. Give me the over seven and a half runs today from Safeco Field at -105!