Tonight the Houston Astros will face Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners. Iwakuma has been a very solid starter for the M’s this season and it is a common assumption that he will dominate the Astros offense. This may not be true as several Astros have a nice track record against him.
There are three hitters that I expect to continue their success for both this season and their career against Iwakuma. Matt Dominguez seems to hit well off of the tougher pitchers, which is odd considering he leads the team in double plays. Marwin Gonzalez has evolved into a very solid option following his development from a Rule 5 claim. Jose Altuve is having a very historic season for a contact hitter with a mix of speed and generally solid defense.
- Matt Dominguez – Matt is known for a lack of speed and so-so power. Dominguez’ .316 batting average is second on the team of players with at least 18 at-bats off of Iwakuma. Unfortunately for him, five of his six hits were for singles, so his OPS is relatively low at just .718.
- Marwin Gonzalez – In a small sample size, yet greater than 10 at-bats, Gonzalez has a fantastic batting average of .583 off of Iwakuma. This includes 1 home run at Safeco Field during the 2013 season. He has actually hit 5 homers off of Mariners’ pitching in his career.
- Jose Altuve – Jose had something pretty rare happen in his last two games. He went hitless. The CSN Houston broadcasters believer that Altuve could be pressing in his #QuestFor200. Altuve should be able to just relax and go back to work in tonight’s rubber game. Historically when facing Iwakuma, Jose has a .421 batting average with 3 walks in 21 plate appearances. Overall his OPS versus Hisashi is a very respectable .837.
These three players have enjoyed success off of Iwakuma in the past and are my players to watch. One other player has been a near .300 hitter in the past 1/3 of the season. While he has historically not seen the ball well from Iwakuma, Chris Carter has not faced him since July 1. Perhaps his home run drought will end tonight (last HR 9/5/14).
Overall I think the Astros have a decent chance of taking a series against another team vying for a playoff spot. Last week they managed to sweep a brief 2-game series against the Los Angeles Angels as well as playing a little spoils in the Athletics’ journey to winning the AL West Division.