With baseball's long-awaited Opening Day finally here, two American League West foes will battle in the Lone Star State. The Houston Astros, coming off of a Game 7 loss in the World Series and a very eventful offseason, will host the rebuilding Seattle Mariners who are striving to make an upset.
Here is a preview of Friday's showdown between the Mariners and Astros, along with a free pick. Currently, Houston is a big favorite at -295 to win the game.
Following a last place finish in 2019, the Mariners will be fighting hard to stay out of the cellar in 2020. But in a 60-game season, anything is possible, meaning that a young Seattle team has the chance of breaking out and making some noise.
In the lineup, you'll likely see longtime Mariner 3B Kyle Seager, along with the power-hitting DH Daniel Vogelbach. 2B Shed Long and SS J.P. Crawford form the double-play combo, while RF Kyle Lewis has shown some promise. CF Mallex Smith is also one of the best base-stealers in the game.
Marco Gonzales will be on the bump for the M's on Opening Day. The southpaw flashed durability and solid production last season, going 16-13 with a 3.99 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 203 innings. He faced Houston four times in 2019, three times on the road, earning a loss in each start but going five innings or more in each start as well.
Another division title almost led to the second World Series title in three seasons for the Astros. But the focus around Houston was the sign-stealing scandal that resulted in fines, the forfeiture of draft picks, and the firing of both manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow. Now under new manager Dusty Baker, Houston will hope to put that behind them and win a championship once again.
The offense is still loaded, led by MVP runner-up 3B Alex Bregman. Joining the superstar in the infield is SS Carlos and 2B Jose Altuve, two perennial All-Stars as well. CF George Springer is a power-hitting lead-off man, while LF Michael Brantley and DH Yordan Alvarez help to provide additional bop to the lineup.
On the mound, Houston will hand the ball over to Justin Verlander. The reigning Cy Young winner led the league with a 21-6 record in 2019, while also ranking inside the top-five with a 2.58 ERA and 300 strikeouts. Verlander pitched five games against Seattle last season, winning all of them and putting up a quality start in all but one.
For the most part, the Mariners will have everyone available for the game this Friday. Only RP Yoshihisa Hirano and 2B Sam Haggerty are questionable for the start of the season. As for the Astros, they were dealt a potential blow when Altuve hurt his leg in an exhibition game and is now questionable for Opening Day. Alvarez is also questionable after a bout with COVID, while closer Roberto Osuna is out with a non-injury matter.
Prediction By GameAdvisers
The Astros are the overwhelming favorites because they're the overwhelmingly better team. Perhaps the Mariners are able to salvage a game this weekend or even with the series, but I expect Verlander to be on cruise control and deliver Houston their first win of the season.
Our number 1 rated pay per head Realbookies has the Astros -295.