With the season on the line, the Mariners have a tall task with a series against the Houston Astros in Seattle

The Mariners are coming down to the end of the season, and have two series left. The Penultimate is against the Houston Astros, and it's easily the biggest one of the year so far.
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Seven. There are seven games left for the Mariners in the 2023 regular season. Sitting 0.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot, they are set for a three-game series against the team directly above them in the standings, the Houston Astros. 

The three games will be played in T-Mobile Park and the team has to quickly rebound from a three-game losing streak at the hands of the Texas Rangers. The series against the Astros feels like a best of three playoff series, being as both teams sit with near identical records and are throwing out their best pitchers, it will be a dogfight. 

Both teams have struggled recently, with Seattle going 4-6 in their last 10 and losing three straight and Houston going 3-7 and also on a three game losing streak. 

Game 1 - Luis Castillo vs. Justin Verlander 

Battling aces, it does not get better than this. Both have put up fantastic seasons yet again and hope to set the tone for the series the right way for their respective teams. Comparing their production, neither stands out as significantly better. 

Castillo: 14-7, 3.06 ERA, 207 SO 

Verlander: 11-8, 3.44 ERA, 131 SO 

It also helps that Castillo is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA against Houston in his career. In his most recent start against the team, he went 7.0 innings of scoreless ball and picked up the win for his club, but that was over two months ago. 

The Mariners offense has been struggling as of late, with a .690 OPS since Sept. 13, but coming back home to a packed house likely will spark an offense that needs something to get them into the playoffs. 

Game 2 - George Kirby vs. Cristian Javier 

The pitching certainly does not take a hit going into game two. Kirby has a 3.58 ERA on the season and Javier has struggled a little bit to the tune of a 4.54 ERA, but has proven to get it done when it matter most. 

Kirby has been much better at home this season, with a 3.10 ERA in 81.1 innings in front of the home crowd. Especially if the Mariners can pick up the first win in the series and be in the playoff spot for his start, it should be hard for the Astros offense to get anything going. 

Game 3 - Bryce Miller vs. Framber Valdez 

Houston has their only clear pitching advantage in game three of this series, with Valdez having an ERA nearly one full point lower than Miller. The Mariners young righty has especially struggled this month, posting a 5.49 ERA in four games thus far. 

If he is to turn around his in-season slump, there really is no better time as the Mariners get set to fight for their playoff lives. 

Despite struggling in the last ten games, Julio Rodríquez will need to get hot again as the heart of the lineup, but Ty France really needs to find something. With a .596 OPS since the start of the month, it has become a common question if it is time to give up on the Gold Glove first baseman as the everyday guy.