As 2024 approaches, have the Mariners done enough to overcome the Astros?

The Mariners had a winning record against the Astros in 2023, winning nine games and losing four. Will the Mariners have a similar record in 2024?

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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The Houston Astros did not feel like the same opponent in 2023 that they did in 2022. First, the Astros W-L record went from 106-56 in 2022 to 90-72 in 2023. Second, Seattle played six fewer games against them this past year due to the changes in schedule structure across baseball. In both seasons, however, the Mariners had a winning record against the Astros: 12-7 in 2022 and 9-4 in 2023. The 2022 playoff sweep at the hands of the Astros made them seem more dominant than they actually are.

Mariners vs Astros: Pitching

Starting Pitchers

The Mariners will still have their stellar starters this coming year. The team's depth chart lists Emerson Hancock as well as the five who pitched last year. Will the team move to a six-man rotation? We will learn a great deal more about the team's plans during Spring Training and then in the first several weeks of the regular season.

The Astros have had the same starting pitchers for a while. All starting pitchers, except Justin Verlander, have pitched exclusively with the Astros. J.P. France (the name makes me laugh every time) is the newest starting pitcher. Verlander played years in Detroit before joining Houston. This will be his eighth year in Houston, however, minus his short stint with the Mets in 2023. Continuity is a benefit for the Astros.

I think it is interesting that the Astros have eight pitchers listed in their rotation. We will see how they employ each of them as the season progresses. I have faith that the Mariners starters will have the advantage in games with Houston.

SEA

Pitching Arm

2023 ERA

Proj. 2024 ERA

HOU

Pitching Arm

2023 ERA

Proj. 2024 ERA

Castillo

RHP

3.34

3.64

Verlander

RHP

3.22

3.19

Kirby

RHP

3.35

3.59

Valdez

RHP

3.45

3.47

Gilbert

RHP

3.73

3.78

Javier

RHP

4.56

3.87

Miller

RHP

4.32

4.32

Urquidy

RHP

5.29

4.32

Woo

RHP

4.21

4.21

McCullers

LHP

3.48

3.60

Hancock

RHP

4.5

4.23

L. Garcia

RHP

4.00

3.99

Average ERA

3.91

3.95

H. Brown

RHP

5.09

4.57

J.P. France

RHP

3.83

4.07

Average ERA

4.12

3.89

Relief Pitchers

The Mariners have traded away several of Seattle's talented relief pitchers and have not replaced all of them yet. Justin Topa went to the Twins for Jorge Polanco. Isaiah Campbell went to Boston in the trade for Luis Urias. We saw Paul Sewald close for the Diamondbacks in the World Series. Josh Rojas and Dominic Canzone came to Seattle in return for Sewald. I have seen some seriously nasty pitching from Seattle's new reliever, Gregory Santos, who formerly pitched for the White Sox.

This does not mean, however, that the relief pitchers that the Mariners have retained are not awesome. Just because the team's average ERA is not super low anymore does not mean that the players on the roster will not play well for Seattle come the regular season. Statistically, neither team has an advantage.

Hector Neris became a free agent after the 2023 season and will play for the Cubs this coming season. Josh Hader is the Astros' newest relief pitcher. A former Oriole, Hader pitched 56 innings in the regular season. He had 85 strikeouts and a 1.28 ERA. In addition, he is a lefty. I wonder if he will share the role of closer with Ryan Pressly (RHP) depending on the batters to come up in the final inning.

SEA

Pitching Arm

2023 ERA

Proj. 2024 ERA

HOU

Pitching Arm

2023 ERA

Proj. 2024 ERA

Munoz

RHP

2.94

3.54

Pressly

RHP

3.58

3.77

Brash

RHP

3.06

3.95

Montero

RHP

5.08

4.43

Saucedo

LHP

3.59

4.22

B. Abreu

RHP

1.75

3.09

Speier

LHP

3.79

4

Coleman

RHP

8.84

4.39

Thornton

RHP

2.01

3.91

Dubin

RHP

7.00

4.61

Campbell / Voth

RHP /RHP

2.83

4.66

S. Martinez

RHP

5.23

4.32

Sewald/ Santos

RHP / RHP

3.12

4.03

Topa

RHP

2.61

0

Mushinski

LHP

5.52

4.64

Gott

RHP

4.19

0

Sousa

LHP

4.00

4.94

Average

3.2

4.04

Blanco

RHP

4.5

4.57

Whitley

RHP

0

0

Graveman

RHP

3.12

3.6

Ortega

RHP

0

0

Hader

LHP

1.28

3.41

Average

4.38

4.14