Seattle (0-0) at Houston (0-0)
When: Monday, April 3rd 2017
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Time: 8:10 ET | TV: ROOT (Seattle, Houston)
Two of the favorites to dethrone the Texas Rangers from winning another American League West title are the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. These two will start a four-game series to open the season on Monday night in Houston with both aces on the mound. Houston has finished over .500 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005-06, but couldn’t seem to beat the Rangers head-to-head and ended the season 11 games back after starting out 17-28. The Astros hope to avoid another slow start and have added Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and Nori Aoki to an offense that is already one of the best in the league. Two-time AL batting champion Jose Altuve and dynamic 22-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa lead the offense. Seattle (86-76) has not reached the postseason since setting the major-league record for regular-season victories with 116 in 2001, but the club ended last year second in the West and just missed the Wild Card on the last day of the season. The Mariners traded for former All-Star shortstop Jean Segura, Danny Valencia and Jarrod Dyson over the winter to add to the sixth-highest scoring offense last season, which was led by three players who hit at least 30 homers in Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
Pitchers: Mariners – Felix Hernandez (2016: 11-8, 3.82 ERA) | Astros – Dallas Keuchel (2016: 9-12, 4.55)
Felix Hernandez has feasted on Opening Day over his career (6-1, 1.49 ERA) and will attempt to continue that success as he makes his ninth consecutive and club-record 10th such start overall. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner was slowed by a calf injury in June and July that cost him nearly six weeks. He went 7-4 despite a 4.48 ERA in 15 outings after he returned. Hernandez struggled in two September starts against Houston last year, losing both while surrendering 14 runs (nine earned) over 10 innings.
Dallas Keuchel will get the Opening Day start for the third consecutive season after winning his first two and looks to rebound after having his disappointing 2016 season ended early due to a rotator cuff injury. Keuchel went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA during his 2015 AL Cy Young Award-winning season and has been solid in four exhibition appearances, going 1-0 with 2.70 ERA. Keuchel, who was 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three starts versus Seattle last year, has struggled in his career against Cruz (9-for-22, three homers) and Valencia (8-for-16, two home runs).
I’m expecting a big year from Seattle and that means King Felix will be right in the middle of it. Look for him to get off to a solid 2017 by shutting down the Astros.
Pick: Mariners +135
HEAD TO HEAD