MLB Picks: Astros vs. Mariners Opener to go 'Over' 7.5 Runs

Mark Lathrop

Monday, April 20, 2015 11:58 AM UTC

Monday, Apr. 20, 2015 11:58 AM UTC

The Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros meet in the first game of their three game set on Monday night in Seattle. Our handicapper looks behind the numbers to see where the betting value lies as part of your MLB Picks.

The Houston Astros, fresh off of a series win of the Los Angeles Angels, visit the Seattle Mariners Monday night in the first game of their three game series. Seattle is also coming off of a series win, after beating the Texas Rangers 11-10 in a thrilling afternoon game on Sunday. Houston finds itself atop of the early AL West standings at 6-6, while Seattle is 1 game back at 5-7. That actually puts Seattle in 4th place in the division, as all teams are within one game of each other. If anything, this should be disconcerting for the Oakland A’s, who possess the only positive run differential in the division, at +26. The closest team in the division in comparison is the Los Angeles Angels at -6.

Early MLB odds have Seattle favored on the money line at -170, with the O/U set at 7 – with some online sportsbooks pushing it to 7.5. The weather is supposed to be beautiful again, sunny and 65 F at game time.

Houston is starting rookie Asher Wojciechowski in this game, who was called up after 5th starter Brad Peacock went down with an injury. He hasn’t pitched more than 4 innings in his two appearances this year, so I don’t expect him to get too deep in this game. As a rookie, Asher has never faced anyone on the Seattle roster in a game that counts in his career so far. What I picked out in his advance stats is that Asher pitches to contact, as his contact rate on pitches swung at by opposing batters is 87.5% - so not a great whiff rate in his short time in the majors. This could bode well for Mariner hitters, as they were working some very patient at-bats in their game Sunday versus Texas. Seattle saw a total of 211 pitches on Sunday, in a nine inning game no less, including 47 pitches off of Ranger closer Neftali Feliz.

Hisashi Iwakuma takes the mound for the home team, coming off of a 5-6 extra inning loss where he gave up 4 earned runs over five innings. Iwakuma has yet to post a quality start and is running a high WHIP at 1.64. This is in comparison to his stellar career WHIP of 1.10. Iwakuma has been relying on his sinker more this year, almost twice as much as normal at 41.7% of his pitches. This might be because he has shown another decrease in fastball velocity this year in his early starts, the pitch averaging only 88.6 on the gun. Either way, he has a fastball, splitter, and sinker all within 4 MPH of each other, so it isn’t hard to see why he is getting hit around if he hasn’t found his movement or control in the early part of this season.

The MLB Pick: I love the fact that Seattle overcame two 5-run deficits on Sunday by being patient and letting good pitches come to them. Taking 6 walks while behind in the game that much is a good sign that your offense is confident in the ‘next man up’. Houston has to be feeling good as well after their series win versus the Angels, and their game Sunday could have been won by even a larger margin if George Springer didn’t miss a home run by inches around a foul pole. Springer won’t be batting .163 the entire year, and looks primed to go on a little run at the end of April. With both starters’ recent form of not going deep into games, and the offenses feeling it, I believe the play with the best value in this matchup is Over 7.5 runs as part of your MLB Picks Monday night.

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