at SEATTLE MARINERS
First pitch: Tuesday, 10:10 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
Justin Verlander makes his debut for Houston on Tuesday, when the Astros take on the Mariners at Safeco Field.
The Astros have put off trading for another starter for far too long, but the team finally sent a message to its players and its fan base late on Thursday. The message was that the Astros are ready to do whatever it takes to win a World Series and they proved that by sending a nice package to the Tigers in exchange for six-time All-Star and 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner RHP Justin Verlander (10-8, 3.82 ERA, 176 K). Verlander will be making his debut for the Astros in this game against the Mariners, and the guy he’ll be hoping to outduel in this one is RHP Erasmo Ramirez (5-5, 4.43 ERA, 80 K). Ramirez is one of Seattle’s worst starters, so the Astros will definitely be expecting Verlander to win the battle on the mound in this one. He could, however, feel some pressure in this game, as it’s never a guarantee that a guy will perform at a high level with a new group of teammates around him. Still, we expect Verlander to be just fine and it helps that he’s facing a Mariners team that has not played well over the past couple of weeks.
The Astros gave up a lot to get Justin Verlander and they’ll be expecting him to pitch like the All-Star he was for Detroit. Verlander started off the season poorly for the Tigers, but he has begun to pitch well as of late. Coming into this game, Verlander had allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of his previous 10 starts. One of those was in Colorado, where it is very tough to pitch. If he can keep it up then this trade will be well worth it for Houston. The Astros will, however, need some of their bats to come ready to go here. One guy that might be able to provide some offense in this game is 2B Jose Altuve. Altuve is a guy that the Astros can count on pretty much every single game, but he also happens to have had some success against Ramirez in his career. He has had 14 at-bats against the righty and is 4-for-14 with a double in those appearances. Look for him to break through and improve those numbers here.
The Mariners will be hoping to earn a big victory on Tuesday, as they are running out of time to crawl back into the wild card race. They’ll be facing Justin Verlander in this one, and they actually beat Verlander’s Tigers the last time he visited Seattle. One guy who came through for Seattle in that game was DH Nelson Cruz, who hit a two-RBI double in the bottom of the sixth in that one. That double cut Detroit’s lead from 4-1 to 4-3 and they eventually won 7-5. The Mariners will be hoping that Cruz can come through against Verlander once again here. As for the Mariners’ pitching, Erasmo Ramirez has actually been very good since the team acquired him from the Rays. He has allowed just six earned runs total over his past four starts and he pitched exactly six innings in each of those outings. If he can give the Mariners six good ones on Tuesday then they’ll be very happy.