The Seattle Mariners are intent on throwing a wrench into the AL West race at the last moment. The M’s (87-73) have now won each of the first two games of their season-ending series against the Texas Rangers (89-71), keeping hope alive for an unlikely division crown if they can run the table this weekend. Texas, meanwhile, needs just one more win to punch their postseason ticket, and they’ll look to get it with lefty Andrew Heaney (10-6, 4.28 ERA) on the mound at T-Mobile Park tonight. Seattle counters with ace Luis Castillo (14-8, 3.20), with first pitch set for 7:15 p.m. ET.
The Mariners enter as -142 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Rangers at +120. The run total is set at 7.5.
Rangers-Mariners picks: Saturday, September 30
Out: SP Max Scherzer (shoulder), SP Jon Gray (wrist)
Out: C Tom Murphy (thumb)
Andrew Heaney vs. Luis Castillo
Texas acquired Jordan Montgomery and Max Scherzer at the trade deadline specifically so that it wouldn’t have to rely on options like Heaney for critical starts down the stretch, but the injury bug had other ideas. This will be the mercurial lefty’s first start since the first week of April; he’s served out of the bullpen over the last few weeks, either as a bulk option or a lefty specialist. He’s faced Seattle twice over that span, firing a scoreless inning on Thursday night and 2.1 scoreless frames last weekend. As a starter, though, his track record against the Mariners is more mixed: Heaney allowed three runs on six hits and four walks over just three innings back in June and allowed four runs (three earned) in 6.2 innings in early May.
Castillo has been one of the very best pitchers in the league this year, but he’s thrown up a couple of critical clunkers this month — the righty has three quality starts in September, but he also has two starts of five runs allowed, including in a loss to the Astros at home earlier this week. The stuff remains elite, though, with an elite four-seam fastball and two plus secondaries in his slider and changeup; when he’s not hanging offspeed pitches and getting bit by the home run (he allowed two against Houston last time out), he’s as good as they come.
We’ve seen totals of five and eight so far in this series, and I’m backing the over tonight despite Castillo’s presence on the mound for Seattle. Texas is sure to come out desperate, knowing they need to win tonight in order to avoid a really hairy situation on Sunday, and it’s just very hard to trust Heaney against a Mariners lineup that has given the lefty trouble this season. (It’s also just awfully hard to trust Heaney in general.)
Pick: Over 7.5
Castillo vs. Heaney is an awfully steep mismatch on the mound, and one that I don’t think this Rangers lineup is performing well enough to overcome right now. Throw in the advantage that Seattle enjoys in the battle of these two bullpens, and I think the Mariners make it three in a row tonight.
Pick: Mariners -142