The Mariners face an uphill battle against the Astros in the ALDS, but sticking with one of their best traits from the regular season could help them.
It feels unlikely that the Mariners will make it out of the ALDS, but it would make for a great story. The Mariners, prior to this year, hadn’t made the postseason since 2001. The iPhone didn’t even exist then. Julio Rodriguez was not even a year old yet.
After sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays in their own house (which, we’re not sure, but it looks like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might actually be renting the place he claimed to own), the Mariners look to take the momentum in against the Astros. Here’s how they can upset them.
Key to upsetting Astros is shockingly simple for Mariners
FiveThirtyEight gives the Mariners just a 32.6 percent chance of winning the ALDS. In Neil Pane’s article on how each underdog can beat the big dog, he pointed out the Mariners likely route to doing so:
“The Mariners had the second-best walk rate in the league, and arguably no group was better at working its way into favorable counts than Julio Rodríguez and company: Seattle owned MLB’s top rate of working 3-0 and 2-0 counts, and the second-best rate of earning 3-1 counts. Further, 10 of Seattle’s 12 top hitters by plate appearances were above-average according to weighted runs created plus. So against an Astros staff that recorded the second-highest strikeout rate during the regular season but also walked batters at a roughly average rate, the Mariners won’t let Houston rest easy with any leads.”
Simple… Just don’t swing!
Obviously, it’s a bit more complex than that, but the Mariners clearly have had some strong plate discipline.
Looking at the Astros’ season game logs, the Mariners fell to form with forcing walks against the Astros. They walked 8 times against the Astros in an 11-1 win, six times in a 6-3 win, and five times in a 7-4 win.
Against Houston, Seattle went 7-12 this year. In their 7 wins, they averaged 4.3 walks per game. In their losses, they averaged 2.5 walks per game.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, they’ll face Justin Verlander in the opening game, who has the lowest BB9 (1.5) on the Astros, so they may need to find other ways to win in Game 1.
Houston Astros look more talented, but don’t sleep on Mariners
The Astros are the favorites for a reason, but the Mariners have talent, too. Luis Castillo looked like everything the Mariners hoped he’d be when they acquired him at the deadline. Julio Rodriguez, in a rookie season, looks ready to win. Eugenio Suarez and Cal Raleigh can slug it.
We all love a good upset. The Mariners could make the Astros at least sweat a little.