With just a handful of games left in the regular season, playoff races are heating up around baseball — and nowhere are things hotter than the AL West. The Houston Astros (85-71) currently occupy the third and final AL Wild Card spot, but the Seattle Mariners (84-71) are hot on their tail, sitting just half a game back of Houston after getting swept by the Texas Rangers over the weekend. And wouldn’t you know it, Houston and Seattle start a three-game series on Monday that will likely determine which team reaches October, with first pitch set for 9:40 p.m. ET from T-Mobile Park. It’s a star-studded matchup on the mound, as Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.44 ERA) goes for the Astros against Mariners ace Luis Castillo (14-7, 3.06).
The home team has got the edge on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Seattle -130 and Houston at +110. The run total is set at 7.5.
Astros-Mariners picks: Monday, September 25
Out: C Tom Murphy (thumb)
Day to day: OF Michael Brantley (shoulder)
Justin Verlander vs. Luis Castillo
Verlander just doesn’t seem to age and is still putting together a great season for the Astros in 2023. He’s posted an 11-8 record and has an ERA of 3.44 on the year split between Houston and the New York Mets. He’s struggled a bit recently, though: The righty has a 5.19 ERA so far in September and has allowed at least eight hits in three of his four starts this month. He’s not yet faced Seattle this season.
Castillo has been more than a steady presence for the Mariners this season as well, posting a 3.06 ERA and a 14-7 record in 2023. He’s faced Houston twice this year, going seven innings in both outings and earning a win and a no-decision. Through those 14 innings of work, he’s allowed just 10 hits and and four earned runs. All four of those earned runs came in the first meeting back in May — when Castillo took the hill against Houston in July he shut them down entirely, giving up only one unearned run.
These teams have faced off 10 times this season, with five of them eclipsing the 7.5 run mark set as today’s total. Considering two of the best pitchers for either team are going to be on the mound today, we lean on the side of the under in this one.
Pick: Under 7.5
This game, and the entire series, is going to be a dogfight as both teams battle to keep their October hopes alive. Verlander has been above-average all season, but Castillo has just been on a different level over the last month and a half or so. We’re rocking with him.
Pick: Mariners -130