The Mariners went 2-1 against the Astros the first time they met in 2021. This is nearly a miracle. While it should be noted that since September 21st of last year, the Mariners are 4-2 against the Astros, there was a period of time – April 12th of 2019 through August 16th of 2020, to be exact – that Houston went an astounding 24-2 against Seattle.
Sure, the Mariners and Astros have quite a few new players even since April 2019, but for Seattle to beat the Astros they still have to overcome the players on Houston and the mentality that Seattle will probably lose again.
But the times they are changing and a four-game matchup versus the Astros can go a long way in proving whether the 2021 Mariners actually believe in themselves or not.
What to watch when the Mariners play the Astros this week
Monday: Justus Sheffield (1-1, 4.86 ERA) vs. Jose Urquidy (0-2, 5.14)
Sheffield hasn’t exactly taken that huge leap forward in his second season yet, but the season is young. What he might run into trouble against with the Astros is his control. Sheffield’s WHIP is 1.32 so far in 2021 which is not good, and he is averaging nearly 4 walks per 9 innings. If Sheffield can get his command under, well, control, Seattle has the advantage in game one.
Urquidy has been terrible this year with a 1.38 WHIP and mostly because he averages giving up a hit an inning. This is bad for his own team and good for the Mariners.
Tuesday: Marco Gonzales (1-2, 6.04 ERA) versus Cristian Javier (2-0, 1.32)
Things change in game two. Gonzales has been a huge disappointment so far this year. He’s been the ace of the Seattle staff for a few years and while he’s never been a true number one, he has at least been a reliable piece. Javier has been a beast with a WHIP of 0.88 and 20 strikeouts in 13.2, If trends continue, this game bodes badly for Seattle.
Wednesday: Justin Dunn (1-0, 3.68 ERA) versus Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.76)
Somehow Greinke has already managed to pitch in five games this season. Maybe his arm will be tired? Greinke has long been one of the better pitchers in baseball and game three of this series appears to favor Houston as well. Dunn hasn’t been bad this year but is stillwalking too many and has a WHIP of 1.36,
Thursday: Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 5.70 ERA) versus no one so far
Maybe the Mariners will end up facing no pitchers on Thursday? (I joke.) Houston hasn’t announced who they will start in game four. This much we know, Kikuchi hasn’t been worth the contract Seattle gave him to join them in 2019. He is 8-16 with a 5.42 ERA since 2019. That’s bad. This year he isn’t much better. Kikuchi should have the talent to help get Seattle into the postseason. Currently, his production would keep the Mariners from getting there.
The Astros are 10-11 because of a massively bad spell where they went 1-9 between April 9th and April 21st. That means they are 9-2 in other games. They are better than their record and will still be an issue for the Mariners. But Seattle is 13-9 for a few good reasons.
Seattle is a young team that doesn’t yet know how good it can be, but Seattle is also well managed and finds a way to put itself in positions to win. They aren’t a perfect team but they are just young enough to not know that they are expected to lose to the Astros. In fact, they should believe they can beat them.