The two hottest teams in baseball start a three game weekend series Friday
Mashing Mariners host streaking Astros
It's rare to have the two hottest teams in baseball square off but Friday we get just that as the Mariners host the Astros in the Emerald City of Seattle.
Both teams have won six straight games and did so on the strength of their bats for the majority of the wins. The Astros though find themselves looking up at the Mariners in the American League West which is a huge surprise for almost every baseball prognosticator, even this early in the season.
Seattle was supposed to be rebuilding after a slew of names were moved in the offseason. Stud infielder Jean Segura was traded to the Phillies and his mate up the middle Robinson Cano was also sent to the NL East in a trade to the Mets. One of the best closers in the game Edwin Diaz was also moved with Cano. James Paxton had been a mainstay of the rotation and was also moved to New York, the Yankees for him. Even young outfielder Ben Gamel was swapped out for another young outfielder.
Replacing them is a hodge-podge of players who failed to succeed elsewhere. It is a who's who of "oh he plays for them now?" Jay Bruce has been a journeyman outfielder converted to first base. Former Astros outfielder Domingo Santana was the player they swapped Ben Gamel for in the trade with the Brewers. Tim Beckham is a failed first overall pick who signed for less than $2 million.
Somehow, Seattle is better. Way better.
It's all led to the best offense in baseball up to this point. They lead in almost every important hitting category and some of those leads are significant. They're 13 points better than Houston who is in second in batting average. They're slugging 30 points better than the closest team. Bruce leads the majors in home runs. Santana is the RBI leader. Beckham, the failed top pick, is slashing .347/.429/.694.
The old baseball adage is each game back in the standings takes a week to erase. The Astros trail the Mariners by four games right now. It isn't the end of the season if the Astros have a bad weekend but it does make the climb to the top of the division a little tougher. Despite Seattle's hot start, they're not super scary.
They have beat up on teams who are supposed to be bad this season and the struggling Red Sox. Their pitching is also mediocre, and did I mention their opponents up to this point have been subpar? The Astros offense has been humming these past six games and that shouldn't change as the eight game road trip begins Friday.
This is a measuring stick for the Astros pitching staff which will see Wade Miley start ahead of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. The Mariners do most of their damage in innings one through six so getting to the bullpen late in the game, where the Astros boast a top ten ERA, will be key.
The AL West might be off to a better start than most expected. This will be the first of many series for the Astros to continue to prove the division goes through them.