On Tuesday, the Houston Astros will face the Seattle Mariners in Game 1 of their American League Division Series. The Astros are the No. 1 seed in the AL Playoff bracket.
Seattle defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in two games in the Wild Card round, and in their first postseason appearance since 2001, the team has become the lovable underdog that many baseball fans can get behind.
The Astros are a dynasty, and the oddsmakers show that fact. Caesars prices the Astros at -260 to win this best-of-five series. The M’s are listed at +210, which is the best odds you’ll get if you think Seattle can topple the most-hated team in baseball.
Well, maybe the Yankees are at least as hated as the Astros. But it’s close. Regardless, the Astros are respected by the sportsbooks: BetMGM lists Houston at +150 to win the AL pennant and +350 to win the World Series. Caesars also lists the Astros at +150 to win the pennant. Houston as made it at least as far as the AL Championship Series in each of the last five seasons.
The Mariners are +1300 to win the World Series, according to FanDuel, the longest odds other than the Cleveland Guardians and San Diego Padres.
The ALDS will follow this schedule: two games in Houston on Oct. 11 and 13; two in Seattle on Oct. 15, 16; and a Game Five if necessary back in the Lone Star State on Monday, Oct. 17.
Mariners vs. Astros, Game 1 ALDS
Odds for the American League Division Series, Game 1, Tuesday Oct. 11, to be played in Houston, will be available soon.
Mariners vs. Astros Pitching Matchup, Game 1 ALDS
Logan Gilbert (13-6, 3.20 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (18-4, 1.75 ERA)
For a about 40 minutes on Saturday while the Mariners were woefully behind the Blue Jays, a few sportsbooks listed Game 3 odds for that Sea/Tor Wild Card Series. Gilbert was listed on the starting pitcher line, and the oddsmakers had the Blue Jays favored. But now Gilbert slips down to Game 1 of the ALDS, a change he accepts gladly.
The Mariners are rightfully confident with Gilbert on the mound: the team was 21-11 when he started a game. He pitched well down the stretch: in seven of his last eight starts, Gilbert allowed two earned runs or less. He’s allowed only two home runs in his last 54 1/3 innings. But, he will face the toughest challenge of his young career when he toes the rubber at Minute Maid Park. The excitement and pressure of playoff baseball is alarming to any ballplayer.
That won’t be a problem for Verlander, who has 14 wins and 205 strikeouts in the postseason. The latter number ranks third all-time. Verlander missed two starts in September with a leg injury, but he’s been Cy Young worthy since his return, and his season should earn him that award, which would be his third.
Verlander knows the Mariners well: he’s made six starts against Seattle this season, posting a 5-1 record with a 2.34 ERA. In 42 1/3 innings against his Game 1 opponent in 2022, Verlander struck out 43 and walked six batters. Yes, six walks. Some Detroit pitchers rack up six walks in an afternoon.
Verlander will make the Astros big favorites in Game 1 once odds are released.
Justin Verlander is schedule to make his 31st postseason start on Tuesday, Oct. 11 in Game 1 of the Houston Astros AL Division Series against the Seattle Mariners. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Why the Astros Will Win
If it’s not enough to have Verlander, Astros manager Dusty Baker can turn to Framber Valdez, veteran Lance McCullers Jr. (who has a career 2.83 ERA in 16 postseason games), and Luis Garcia, who won 15 games. The Astros pitching staff led the AL with a 2.90 ERA, which was 0.40 runs per game lower than the next best team. The Astros hit 214 home runs, with five batters hitting as many as 20. They were also the best baserunning in baseball, and ranked by Defensive Efficiency, Houston was the second best fielding team in the league.
There’s not much the Astros can’t do. That’s why Houston is the favorite AL team to win the World Series, why they are the favorite to win the AL pennant, and why oddsmakers like FanDuel have Houston at -225 in this series against Seattle
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How the Mariners Can Win
It’s going to take a lot of things going right for Seattle to pull off an upset against the Astros. It helps that this is a five-game series (fewer games means a better chance to knock off a favorite).
One only needs to look back to 2021 and 2019 to find lower seeds that knocked off No. 1 seeds in the Division Series round. Last season the No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays were defeated by the Boston Red Sox, and in 2019, the NL’s No. 1 seed Dodgers were knocked off by the Nationals.
For the Mariners to win this series they will need to work the pitch count against Verlander, Valdez, and other Astros starters. The M’s must get the lead, because if the Astros have an advantage on the scoreboard by the fifth or sixth inning, Dusty Baker turns it over to a bullpen that was third in baseball in ERA and struck out an AL-best 11.1 batters per nine innings.
If the M’s can find a way to get ahead of Houston and stave off the relentless Houston offense, they can pull the upset. But it’s asking a lot. That’s why sportsbooks like Caesars price the Seattle Mariners at +210 to win the ALDS.
Astros, Mariners ALDS Game 1, Series Prediction
In the final start of his regular season, Verlander threw five no-hit innings and struck out 10 batters. That was against a playoff team, the Phillies. Yes, JV is 39 years old. Yes, he is in his first season following shoulder surgery. But no, it doesn’t matter. He’s still one of the five best in the world at what he does. He will manhandle the Mariners in Game 1, and all the Astros will need are a few runs. If you can find Verlander runs under two and hits allowed under five (DraftKings frequently offers those markets), place your prop bet on that. And bet the moneyline in favor of the home team.
SERIES PICK: The Astros are too good to be denied. Certainly not by the Mariners, who finished 16 game behind Houston in the AL West. Not only do the Astros have Verlander, who is pitching as well as he ever has, they boast Framber Valdez, who set an MLB record for most consecutive quality starts, a record that had stood for more than 110 years. Then there’s Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Kyle Tucker. Not to mention Lance McCulers Jr. (yes, he’s back), a bullpen that ranked third in baseball in ERA, and Yordan Alvarez who became just the fourth batter in franchise history to have a 300/400/600 slash line. All that to say this: the Astros are loaded. SO loaded they won’t fear the M’s, and should win in four games.