Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Fantasy Guru - Baseball

MLB Preview: Houston Astros (17-16) at Seattle Mariners (16-17)


TODAY’S GAME: The Astros and Mariners will play the final game of their three-game series in Seattle today with a pitching matchup of RHP Brandon Bielak opposite RHP Bryce Miller… Bielak is making his first start in the Majors since Sept. 24, 2021 at OAK…meanwhile, the Texas A&M product Miller will make his second career start.

ABOUT BIELAK: RHP Brandon Bielak was recalled from Triple A Sugar Land last Monday after RHP José Urquidy was placed on 15-day IL (right shoulder discomfort)…Before being recalled, Bielak recorded a 4.12 ERA (9ER/19.2IP) with nine strikeouts, a 1.12 WHIP and and a .216 opponent batting average in five games (three starts) for Triple A Sugar Land this season.

VIVE LA FRANCE!: RHP J.P. France made his Major League debut last night against Seattle…he tossed five shutout innings becoming the fourth pitcher in Astros franchise history to toss at least five shutout innings in their Major League debut..he joined RHP Hunter Brown (2022), RHP Jarred Cosart (2013) and LHP Carlos Hernandez (2001) as the only Astros pitchers to record this feat.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Astros are 9-5 (.643) on the road this season, which is the third best road record in the AL, behind the Rays (.692) and Orioles (.650)…the Astros have played four full road series and have already produced impressive series victories over the Pirates (2-1), Braves (3-0) and Rays (2-1)…this continues a trend for Houston, as the club was an AL-best 51-30 (.630) on the road last season and are104-72 (.591) on the road since the start of the 2021 season, which also is tops in the AL.

LAST NIGHT’S GAME: The Astros fell to the Mariners, 7-5, after the Mariners scored seven runs in the 8th inning…RHP J.P. France (0ER/5IP) was outstanding in his Major League debut…SS Jeremy Peña led the way for the Astros offensively as he went 3×4 with two doubles, one run and one RBI…CF Jake Meyers (2×4, 2 RBI, R), LF Yordan Alvarez (1×3, RBI, R ) and 2B Mauricio Dubón (2×5, R) also contributed offensively for Houston.

GARCIA OUT FOR THE SEASON: Announced last night, RHP Luis Garcia will undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John) on his right elbow…a date for the surgery has not been set…Garcia left his last start on May 1 in the 1st inning after experiencing discomfort in his right elbow…he will be out for the remainder of the 2023 season, but is expected to return at some point during the 2024 season.

LATE ATTACK: The Astros offense has come alive late in games this season, producing 68 runs in the 7th inning or later, which ranks second in the Majors trailing only the Dodgers (69)…the Astros top two innings, in terms of runs scored, this season have been the 7th (25 runs) and the 8th (22 runs).

STUFF OF NIGHTMARES: LF Yordan Alvarez has been at his best in the big moments in his career, especially this season…he’s hitting .500 (11×23) with RISP, .615 (8×13) with RISP and two outs, .800 (4×5) with the bases loaded, and .421 (8×19) in close and late situations…Baseball-Reference has a leverage metric, which lists Alvarez as hitting .588 (10×17) with five homers, 26 RBI and a 2.255 OPS in high leverage situations.

TRAFFIC:LF Yordan Alvarez has opened his season by reaching base safely in all 27 of his games, which is the franchise record for a start-of-season streak, besting three previous 25-game streaks (Alex Bregman in 2020, Jordan Schafer in 2012, Denis Menke in 1969)…it is also the the longest streak in the AL this season…going back to last season, Alvarez has reached base safely in a career-long 31 straight games.

UNDER THE RADAR: RHP Phil Maton and RHP Bryan Abreu have been outstanding in the early going this season…Maton has allowed just five hits and two runs in his first 14 appearances (17 IP) with 19 strikeouts…opponents are just 5×56 (.089) vs. him (RHH are 1×24, LHH are 4×32)…Abreu has tallied 26 strikeouts in his 16.1 IP while allowing just three earned runs for a 1.65 ERA, and also posting a .161 opponent average (9×56).

EARLY RANKINGS: The Astros have three players currently ranking within the top 10 in multiple categories the AL…LF Yordan Alvarez ranks tied for third in RBI (31), ninth in OPS (.922), 10th in on-base percentage (.381) and tied for 10th in homers (7)…3B Alex Bregman ranks tied for second in walks (23), while RF Kyle Tucker ranks tied for ninth in walks (19).

ON THE BUMP: The Astros rank second in the AL in team ERA (3.35), trailing only the Rays (2.90)…their starter’s ERA of 3.35 ranks third in the AL, while their bullpen ERA of 3.35 ranks seventh in the AL.

WORKING THEIR WAY BACK: The Astros have a few players rehabbing with minor league affiliates:

• LF Michael Brantley, on the IL while recovering from right shoulder surgery, is currently on an injury rehab assignment with Triple A Sugar Land…he’s played in nine games so far, hitting .250 (6×24) with 11 walks and five RBI in nine starts (6 in LF, 2 at DH, 1 at DH) for the Space Cowboys…last night, Brantley went 0x2 with 3 walks, while playing defensively at first base.

• OF Chas McCormick, on the IL with lower back tightness, has played in five games on an injury rehab assignment with Double A Corpus Christi, hitting .294 (5×17) with a homer, three RBI and four walks…he played 5.0 innings of last night’s game in LF, going 1×3 with an RBI and two runs.

• LHP Parker Mushinski is on the IL with lumbar spine muscle spasms… in his appearance last night with the Triple A Sugar Land, he struck out the side in one scoreless inning.

SUCCESS VS. SEATTLE: LF Yordan Alvarez success against the Mariners has come often for Alvarez, who’s hit 14 career homers in 45 regular season and postseason games vs. the club…including the postseason, Alvarez has six homers in his last 13 games vs. SEA.

LAST APPEARANCE – 5/1 VS. SF: came on in relief on Monday vs. SF after RHP Luis Garcia was removed in the 1st inning after 8 pitches…matched his career-high with 6 strikeouts, tossing 4.0 IP and allowing 2 runs, 2 hits and 3 walks… was the longest relief outing from an Astros pitcher this season and was the longest from an Astros pitcher since RHP Peter Solomon on 9/29/21 vs. AZ….had been recalled earlier in the day following the placement of RHP José Urquidy on the 15-day IL.

BACK IN THE BIGS: is making his first stint in the Majors this season and has appeared at the MLB level in each of the last 4 seasons (all with the Astros)… continues to serve in a hybrid starter-relief role…will be making his 1st MLB start since 9/24/21 at OAK.

STARTER VS. RELIEVER: will be making his 9th career start in what is his 47th career MLB appearance…has gone 1-3 with a 6.59 ERA (20ER/27.1IP) as a starter vs. going 5-4 with a 4.56 ERA (36ER/71.0IP) as a reliever…of his 38 appearances as a reliever, has tossed at least 2.0 IP on 18 occasions.

DOWN IN SUGAR LAND: went 0-1 with a 4.12 ERA (9ER/19.2IP) in 5 games(3 starts) with Triple A Sugar Land prior to being recalled on 5/1…spent bulk of the ‘22 season with Sugar Land and had a stellar year, going 3-6 with a 3.15 ERA (31ER/88.2IP) in 23 games (14 starts)…posted the 5th-lowest ERA of Pacific Coast League pitchers (min. 80 IP).

VS. SEA: will be making his 8th career appearance and 1st career start against Seattle, which will be his most against any other Major League team…has logged a 3.00 ERA (5ER/15.0IP) through his 7 games vs. the Mariners… picked up his 1st and only career save vs. the Mariners on 9/6/21 at Minute Maid Park, tossing the final 3.0 scoreless IP, allowing just one hit and striking out 3 batters, in an 11-2 win.

ABOUT BIELAK: selected by the Astros in the 11th round of the 2017 MLB June draft from Notre Dame…was teammates with TOR IF Cavan Biggio at Notre Dame, son of Hall-of-Famer and Astros icon, IF Craig Biggio.

• pitched three years at Notre Dame, earning ACC All-Freshman honors in 2015 after leading the Fighting Irish in starts (14) and innings (88.2)…followed that up with a strong sophomore year, in which he posted a 2.10 ERA in 55.2 innings pitched…would pitch three full seasons (2015-17) with the Fighting Irish, going 11-11 with a 3.85 ERA in 47 games


TODAY’S TILT…the Mariners continue a 6-game homestand with the last of 3 games against the Houston Astros (1-1)…the Texas Rangers (3 G, 5/8-5/10) also visit T-Mobile Park on the homestand starting tomorrow night…the Mariners are coming off a 9-game road trip (5-4) against the Phillies (1-2), Blue Jays (1-2) and Athletics (3-0)…today’s game will be televised live on ROOT SPORTS with Aaron Goldsmith and Ryan Rowland-Smith on the call and broadcast live on Seattle Sports (710 AM) and with Rick Rizzs and Dave Sims.

ODDS AND ENDS…the Mariners defeated the Astros by a 7-5 score last night to even the series…the Mariners have won 5 of their last 6 games…9 of Seattle’s last 10 games (4/25-c) have been decided by 2-or-fewer runs, including 5 one-run games during that stretch…Seattle is 8-10 at T-Mobile Park and 8-7 on the road this season.

• Comeback Kids – The Mariners have won 5 of their last 6 games…each of the 5 wins have been come-from-behind victories.

• .500 – With a win today, Seattle would improve to .500 for the third time this season (also: 1-1 on March 31, 8-8 on April 16).

• Series Record – Seattle owns a 4-6 series record coming into today’s rubber match…Seattle is 0-2 in rubber games of series this season.

• Yesterday’s Moves – RHP Juan Then (#43) was recalled from Double-A Arkansas…RHP Penn Murfee was placed on the 15-day Injured List with right elbow inflammation (retroactive to May 4).

TWO OUTS? NO PROBLEM…the Mariners rallied in the 8th inning last night, scoring 7 runs on 7 hits, all with 2 outs in the 7-5 win…both the 7 runs and 7 hits were inning-highs for the Mariners this season…the 7 runs with 2 outs are tied for the 4th-most runs with 2 outs in an inning in franchise history, trailing only Aug. 30, 2003 (10 runs, 5th inning), June 2, 2016 (9, 7th) and May 16, 2002 (8, 7th), via Sarah Langs…Seattle also became the first team since 1901 to score 7+ runs in a game with all of them coming after having 2 outs-and-nobody-on in their final at-bat of a game, via OptaSTATS.

IT’S MILLER TIME…right-hander Bryce Miller makes his 2nd career start today after a stellar Major League debut on May 2 at Oakland…he tossed 6.0 innings, allowing one run on 2 hits and recorded 10 strikeouts with no walks…Miller retired the first 15 batters he faced, carrying a perfect game into the 6th inning before a Tony Kemp single…the 24-year-old right-hander Miller ended each of his 6 frames with a strikeout…Miller set a Mariners record for most strikeouts (10) in a Major League debut, surpassing Enrique Romo, who struck out 9 in his MLB debut on April 7, 1977 vs. the California Angels in the Mariners second-ever game as a franchise…Miller also became the third pitcher in MLB history to record 10+ strikeouts with no walks in a debut, joining Johnny Cueto-CIN on April 3, 2008 and Stephen Strasburg-WSH on June 8, 2010…Miller, the #88 prospect in the Majors according to, became the first player drafted from the 2021 MLB Draft to debut for Seattle and the 6th overall from that class to appear in the big leagues.

THRILL ON THE HILL…the Mariners pitching staff leads the Majors in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (6.3), ranking ahead of Minnesota (5.6)…Seattle pitchers also lead the Majors in Fielding Independent Pitching (3.48), soft-contact percentage (19.9), swing percentage/number of pitches swung at (48.9), zone percentage/number of pitches in the strike zone (44.0), fewest barrels (44) and barrels-per-plate appearance ercentage (5.2)…Mariners starting pitchers rank 2nd in fWAR (4.1) behind Minnesota (4.7)…Mariners relief pitchers rank 2nd in fWAR (2.2) behind Los Angeles-AL (2.4).

JK: JUST KRUSHIN’…Jarred Kelenic has been one of the most effective hitters in the American League this season, batting .300 (33×110) with 14 runs, 9 doubles, 7 home runs, 16 RBI, 5 stolen bases and 10 walks, while getting on base at a .361 clip, slugging .573 with a .933 OPS in 31 games this season… Kelenic has the 5th-highest slugging percentage in the AL…the 23-year-old outfielder carries a 160 wRC+, ranking 6th in the AL to Brent Rooker-OAK (214), Yandy Diaz-TB (196), Matt Chapman-TOR (190), Randy Arozarena-TB (179) and Mike Trout-LAA (162).

JUAN THEN MAKES MLB DEBUT…right-hander Juan Then (pronounced ‘TEN’) tossed a scoreless 7th inning in relief of Marco Gonzales last night…Then is the 3rd Mariners player to make a Major League debut this season, joining infielder Jose Caballero (April 15 vs. Colorado) and right-hander Bryce Miller (May 2 at Oakland)…Then is the first Seattle pitcher to record a scoreless debut since left-hander Danny Young on May 9, 2022 vs. Philadelphia.

IN-SPEIER-ING MOUNDWORK…Gabe Speier is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA (0 ER, 12.2 IP) with 1 walk (intentional) and 10 strikeouts in 15 appearances out of the Mariners bullpen this season…his 15 scoreless appearances are 1 game shy of Marc Rzepczynski’s 16-game scoreless streak from April 4-May 15, 2017, the longest scoreless streak (by games) to begin a season in franchise history…Speier has posted a 0.789 WHIP…the lefty’s 12.2 innings without allowing a run are 2nd-most in the Majors, trailing only Yennier Cano-BAL (14.0 IP)…Speier also ranks T2nd in bWAR (0.8) among ML relievers, trailing only Cano (1.3).

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE…the Mariners have played in 22 games this season decided by 2-orfewer runs, 2nd-most in the Majors and trailing only Cleveland (23)…Seattle is 10-12 in games decided by 2-or-fewer runs this season.

FRANCE v. FRANCE…Ty France went 2-for-3 off Astros starting pitcher J.P. France last night…it marked J.P. France’s Major League debut…France vs. France was the first time a batter-pitcher matchup’s last names were the same country since Kevin Jordan-PHI faced Ricardo Jordan-NYM on Sept. 10, 1997.

AS YOU MAY KNOW…J.P. Crawford delivered the bases-clearing, game-tying double in last night’s 7-run bottom of the 8th…Seattle scored all 7 runs in the inning with 2 outs, but…DID YOU KNOW?… that J.P.’s double was Seattle’s first game-tying double in the 8th inning or later since Crawford’s game-tying double in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series at Toronto last season?…on Oct. 8, 2022, J.P. drove in 3 runs with a double that scored Cal Raleigh, Mitch Haniger and Adam Frazier, which knotted the game at 9-9 before the Mariners eventually won by a 10-9 score after trailing 8-1…it marked the largest postseason comeback win by a road team in Major League history

ABOUT BRYCE MILLER… • The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher is scheduled to make his 2nd career start, both this season and his 1st against the Houston Astros. • Selected by Seattle in the 4th round (113th overall) of the 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft; signed by Mariners
scout Derek Miller. • Spent 3 seasons at Texas A&M from 2019-21…also spent 2 seasons playing for Brazos Valley Bombers of the Texas Colle- giate League in 2018 and 2020, and 1 season with the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League in 2019. • Was born in Mount Pleasant, Texas and attended New Braunfels High School in New Braunfels, Texas.

LAST TIME OUT…ND in Major League debut on 5/2 at OAK… struck out 10 batters over 6.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits without walking a batter…took a perfect game into the 6t h inning, before a Tony Kemp 1-out single broke up the no-hit bid…the 16-consecutive batters retired in a pitcher’s MLB debut are the most since 1961 (h/t Elias Sports).

WHAT A DEBUT…became just the 3rd pitcher in MLB history to strike out 10 batters without issuing a walk in their Major League debut, joining RHP Johnny Cueto-CIN (4/3/08) and Stephen Strausburg-WSN (6/8/10)…became the 30th pitcher in MLB history to strikeout 10+ in their ML debut…also set a franchise record for most strikeouts in a debut moving ahead of Enrique Romo, who struck out 9 on 4/7/77.

TEXAS HEAT…his 4-seam fastball has the most rise of any pitcher in MLB with at least 50 pitches thrown this season…Miller’s heater has 4.8 inches of vertical movement above average, ranking ahead of Matt BushMIL and Kutter Crawford-BOS who are tied for 2nd with 3.7 inches of rise on their 4-seamers.

THIS SEASON IN ARKANSAS…has made 4 starts with Double-A Arkansas this season and has gone 0-2 with a 6.41 ERA (19.2 IP, 14 ER) and has allowed 3 walks while striking out 18…his 18 strikeouts ranks fifth on the Travelers among starting pitchers.

STRIKEOUT MACHINE…recorded 163 strikeouts in 2022 between High-A and Double-A which was the 12th-most among all Minor League pitchers

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