Double Down While Betting a Pair of MLB Picks on Mariners vs. Astros

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 11:45 AM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 2, 2015 11:45 AM GMT

Is Houston about to take a turn for the worst? Our MLB handicapper takes a look at tonight's matchup vs. the Mariners & presents his case for winning MLB Picks.

In the final game of their midweek series, the Houston Astros look to hold their ground in the AL West as they host the underwhelming Seattle Mariners. The Mariners, to their credit, have September call-ups to look at and should be throwing some new faces in the lineup. An interesting pitching prospect was added to the Mariner roster Tuesday by the name of Tony Zych. Zych will become the last player in MLB history alphabetically upon getting to the mound – which bookends prior Mariner reliever David Aardsma in being the first. Goofy stuff, I know. With the Astros being the superior team over 133 games so far this season they are favored in this game. With Scott Kazmir pitching, a lot favors them. The money line opened with the Astros found at -162 at Pinnacle. Getting a run and a half for the Mariners will cost you just -150 at the same book. The O/U run total has been posted at 7.5 runs at multiple books. The weather is supposed to be 72 F with no wind and artificial light at game time. They might even open the roof like they did on Tuesday night.

 

Scott Kazmir Takes the Hill for Houston
For some reason the A’s departed with a pitcher in Scott Kazmir who was in the midst of one of the best seasons he has ever had. Ok, I get it, “Moneyball” and all that, but you’d have to admit that Kazmir’s 2.45 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 137/48 K/BB rate over 154 innings pitched has been impressive. He’s been the recipient of some poor run support at times since his move to Houston, which really isn’t helping his 7-9 record. Kazmir is 1-4 in his last five games even though he has given up more than three earned runs only once. He’s changed his approach this year somewhat, and has started throwing a cutter in place of his slider as his off-speed pitch. Interestingly enough this change hasn’t materialized in any differences in his fly ball and ground ball percentages, as they are almost identical to his career averages.

 

Taijuan Walker Gets the Nod for Seattle
Taijuan Walker takes the mound for the Mariners after turning in a great performance in his last time out, pitching 6.1 innings of shutout ball on the road in Chicago. He was taken out of that game with a hip cramp, but nothing indicates that his removal was anything but precautionary. Walker actually has a better K/BB rate than Kazmir, but his ERA is not nearly as shiny, coming in at 4.53. Part of this is luck, as Walker’s FIP is 3.96 while Kazmir’s FIP is 3.39.  And of course, Walker has more wins than Kazmir so it is obvious who the better pitcher is, right? All kidding aside, the Mariners should be pretty happy with the steps their 23 year-old prospect has taken this year.

 

Final Analysis 
With Seattle playing loose and free and Houston tightening up as they enter uncharted territory, I like the role of the spoiler in this matchup. I don’t think Kazmir is nearly as good as his ERA indicates, and Walker nearly as ordinary. Would this mean I’m taking the M’s to win straight up with today's MLB Pick? Hardly, but I think they have a great chance to keep it close. With the MLB odds on the run line opening at an affordable -150, that is where my lean is. I also like the over in this game, as it is 9-0-1 in the last ten games between these teams, and 7-0 in the last seven games in Houston. It’s been a dinger show in Houston this week thus far and I expect that to continue, although you might have to wait for the bullpens to come into the game to see it in this game.

 

MLB Pick: Mariners +1 1/2 (-145) & 'OVER' 7.5 at Heritage

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