Before every series I will post these charts to help you get ready for the games, The methodology is described below.
The Astros go back on the road which may be a good thing. Next up is a familiar division foe- the Seattle Mariners. This may be a tough series for the Astros in Seattle.
There are several key injuries
Per Astros- They have placed RHP Jose Urquidy on the 15-day Injured List (right shoulder discomfort) to fill his spot on the roster, we recalled RHP Brandon Bielak from Triple A.
Possibly worse RHP Luis Garcia is getting a second opinion of his elbow discomfort. This is usually a bad sign and Tommy John surgery MAY be a possibility. Many sources report that JP France will be recalled today.
Brantley and McCormick appear to be continuing their rehab assignment and should be ready soon.
For the Mariners
Seattle released Tommy La Stella yesterday
Dylan Moore is rehabbing from Oblique strain
Robbie Ray is out having had TJ surgery on 5/3/23
Easton McGee has a strained forearm
Closer Anthony Munoz has a Strained Shoulder.
The Mariners are 15-16 and the Astros are 16-15. This is a close series.
As I noted on Twitter
This allows for the team to use the RP they are likely to send down tonight while having France with the team and to give him 24 hours to get integrated.
This gives the Astros another potential #4/#5 SP. Dana Brown is working. IF the SPs did recover Allgeyer could be deployed to the bullpen. I don't expect him immediately or even at all, but Brown is giving himself options.
Overall Preseason WAR Comparisons
Before the season this is how the two teams compared from a projected WAR standpoint.
The Mariners projected to be an average team. In a matchup with the Astros they had advantages at catcher and CF.
Here is our modified table that shows the WAR by position so far, the projected WAR for the ROS, and then what the cumulative total WAR would be.
From an ACTUAL WAR delivered standpoint overall, the Mariners have a 9.4 to 6.9 advantage. They SHOULD have the better record. Kelinic in LF has been a beast and the Mariners bullpen has delivered more WAR that the projections have them delivering the rest of the way. The Mariners bullpen has been twice as good as the Astros. Hard to do.
The rest of the season projections are consistent generally with the preseason numbers. The Astros have the advantage. Again, these are the season projection numbers and NOT my opinion.
By the preseason WAR method, Seattle would be predicted to win 83 games in 2023 vs. the 89 for the Astros. Projected after their starts, the Mariners would track to still win 83 games and the Astros have fallen to project only 87.
Let's compare the competition these two teams have faced.
According to the website MLB Strength of Schedule Rankings (powerrankingsguru.com),
The Mariners have played the 22nd rated schedule so far in the MLB. Don't worry they have the sixth rated remaining schedule.
The Astros have played the tenth rated schedule so far. Their remaining schedule is only the 20th rated schedule.
This data suggests Seattle should have been better so far. It is really unknown what will happen in this series. Let's see if the details help.
NOTE- the projection numbers have now been updated to the projections as of May 1st. This shifts several of the baseline Astros grades too. The defensive projections also were updated which affected the full season defensive WAR and the defensive grade bumps up and down.
Chart 1- Position Player Roster
Defensive Positions and rosters with bench and key minor league players. Who is injured? Then, the relative scores to arrive at who is better.
The report card ranks indicates the Astros SHOULD have an advantage. The Mariners have a few players currently underperforming the projections. Kelenic has been an absolute STAR early.
The Astros would LOVE for Abreu and Maldy to break out of their funks. I hope that Diaz gets more opportunities to play for both. Others including Bregman and Tucker are underperforming too.
Chart 2- The Projected Batting Orders
In this section I predict the general batting order I expect both teams to use this series. I MIGHT update this as the series progresses. You also see how the batting lineup compares with the 2023 projected grades.
With Kelenic hitting WAY above his projections, the Seattle lineup is good. The Astros lineup needs to perform to projections.
This will be an interesting but not impossible test for the Astros pitching.
Chart 3- Pitching Rosters
Starters and Relief pitcher rosters with key minor league players. Who is injured? Then, the relative scores to arrive at who is better.
The report card says these two staffs are dead even. I guess it will be Martinez sent down.
Look at the 2023 season to date grades for the Seattle pitching! TEN A+ grades. Throw out the two for being an extremely small sample size. That is STILL EIGHT A+ pitching grades. As many as seven of those MAY not be lucky either. We will see how the Astros bats do against a HOT pitching group.
I have to believe the Seattle pitching is NOT this good. They are Fourth in ERA and First in FIP. I don't think they are THAT good.
Seattle media is reporting AA pitcher Juan Then is being called up. I don't know who is being optioned yet.
The Astros pitching is in a massive flux with Urquidy and Garcia on the IL maybe for a long time. France arrives. How can France and Bielak do this season?
Right now. it is advantage Seattle in pitching.
Chart 4- Starting Pitching Matchups,
In this section we look at the SP matchups by game.
The Astros dodge Gilbert and Kirby this series. Given how they are pitching, that is good. Maybe this makes the pitching even in the series.
Saturday the Astros bats MUST get to Gonzales.
Series Prediction- I need to address this. THIS Article is about the matchup and not a prediction. Predicting three games series results is nearly impossible. I do these predictions as a SUMMARY of what I think all of the matchup data is saying.
I believe the Astros will take one in this series but almost any result COULD happen. The Mariners are a better team than you probably believe.
As we have discussed in the previous Astros Report Card Articles here is the grading scale for the position players.
To account for the value of defense a player can get a letter grade bump up or down based on their projected defensive WAR (or actual defensive WAR for 2022) for their primary defensive position.
For the pitchers we will use these two scales- one for 2023 based on projected FIP and the other for the 2022 actual FIP- data.
The overall score will be based on the point values to the right. The differences are tallied in the columns to the right.
Overall Score = Starter Differences + Bench Differences / 2 + MiLB Players Differences /4