Mariners still have value despite recent skid

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Considering how the Seattle Mariners’ roster was decimated during an offseason that followed an 89-win campaign, their hot start to 2019 has been the biggest surprise during the first month of the 2019 season.

In a year the Mariners were supposed to suffer through rebuilding growing pains, after selling off several veteran players from the core in exchange for prospects who were to help the team win in the future, it turns out the young guys can play.

Starting 13-2, the Mariners owned the best record in baseball. The Mariners became just the third team since 1987 to open with at least 13 wins in the first 15 games after Milwaukee (14-1 in 1987) and Boston (13-2 last year). They became just the 17th team since 1900 to win at least 13 of their first 15 games in a season, something that takes place about once every seven years.

A recent 0-4 skid brought them back to reality. That doesn’t mean they’ve lost their value, though.

After their 13-6 start, Seattle had $100 bettors up $885. The Mariners were installed as an underdog 11 of their first 19 games, which helped up the ante when they won. They were also 13-5-1 Over in the same span, with 13 of their games hitting double digits.

After its first two games in Japan carried totals of 9 and 9.5, Seattle’s totals crept from 7 to 8 to 8.5. Only once in seven games did the total swell to 9.5. Then the Mariners’ offense exploded for 34 runs in a three-game span at the White Sox and in Kansas City.

Through Monday, the Mariners led the league in runs per game with 6.84 behind a league-leading 130 runs scored.

Guys like Dan Vogelbach and Domingo Santana and Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion have sparked a lineup that headed into Tuesday’s action ranked third with a .275 batting average.

Seattle became the first major league team to homer in each of its first 15 games, and extended the streak to 19 games on Monday in a 6-4 loss to Cleveland. After belting two against the Indians, the Mariners led the league with 41 home runs.

Don’t let the home runs sucker you into a future bet, though. There have been six teams prior to hit 30 or more home runs in the first 15 games of a season in the divisional era. Only two made the playoffs: the Cardinals in both 2000 and 2004.

Seattle remains a good bet in catching the price as an underdog, and playing the total high, while its winning ways continue.

This week, the Mariners complete a homestand with a stiff test from the Indians, and are sure to catch favorable numbers when they travel to Anaheim to face the Angels for four games, before finishing up with two Interleague games at fellow-surprise squad San Diego.

And that’s where I’ll start with this week’s free picks, as I like the Mariners to open their road trip with a win.

Thursday

Mariners at Angels: I love veteran Felix Hernandez in this spot play, as he beat the Angels in his first start this season, when he scattered seven hits and three runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings. It marked the first time he beat the Halos since 2016.

Hernandez, the staff’s former ace, has become a back-of-the-rotation starter, and that’s something that has led him to pitch with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Look for the right-hander to combine that power and command while bringing to life four plus-pitches, which include a power changeup that has outstanding sinking action when he is on. MARINERS

Friday

Giants at Pirates: I like what I’ve seen from Jordan Lyles early on as the fifth member of Pittsburgh’s rotation. The right-hander signed a one-year $2.05 million contract as a free agent after pitching for the Padres and Brewers last season, and has been every bit worth the investment thus far. Lyles has allowed just one run over 11 innings in his first two outings.

Opponents are batting a paltry .158 against the veteran, who has sparked a staff that boasts the league’s second-best overall ERA (2.69) and second-best ERA (1.98) among starters.

While Lyles has been a guy who has relied on his late-sinking fastball, he’s been able to expand the usage of his curveball early on, which has meant more strikeouts and keeping opposing hitters off-balance. With San Francisco opening up a three-game series in the middle of an eight-game road trip, the Bucs with Lyles will be a good play here. PIRATES

Astros at Rangers: Houston’s nine-game win streak turned back a 2-5 start and pushed the 2017 champs back to the top of the American League West. And starter Justin Verlander has been doing his part.

The veteran right-hander will toe the slab in a Lone Star State tussle against the Rangers and I like him in this spot. He looked fantastic against the Mariners in showing precise command of his arsenal last Saturday, when he struck out a season-high 11 batters.

This being a division rivalry, I expect Verlander to have all four of his pitches working once again. He’ll oppose Drew Smyly, who allowed one run over three innings in an April 1 start against the Astros, but will step to the hill with an 0-1 mark and 7.15 ERA. The Astros, who are hitting .280 will get Verlander the run support he’ll need. ASTROS

Last week: 2-1

Season: 2-4

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About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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