Astros Continuing to Hold Off Mariners in Battle for the AL West Division
With the changes made to the 2018 Major League Baseball schedule, the All-Star Break will come even later in the schedule compared to previous years. Through, July 5th, the Astros and Mariners had both played at least 88 games. The Astros have an 58-31 record, leading the American League West Division, 1.5 games ahead of the Mariners' 56-32 record.
There are 10 more games on the schedule before the All-Star Break and some of the Astros starting position players are showing signs of breaking down. Starting catcher Brian McCann is out for at least a month after having knee surgery, and potential All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa is out for at least another week with a back injury.
While the Astros and Mariners are playing at a pace establishing themselves in the upper-tier of the American League, the post-All-Star Break portion of the schedule will allow for some separation. The Astros and Mariners will play against each other 13 times after the break.
The Mariners have been able to avoid the injury bug, they are still playing without suspended second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano's suspension for using a banned substance will end in mid-August, and the following week the Astros will play at Seattle for three games beginning on August 20th.
Finally, the Astros starting pitchers have all been healthy and they will most likely be the difference makers concerning the Astros 2018 postseason hopes. If Verlander, Cole, McCullers, etc. can continue to put together dominating performances, then they should be able to win the Astros the AL West and fight for another World Series berth.