Houston Astros’ Magic Number and Series Preview Versus Oakland

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

With the Houston Astros‘ magic number sitting at three, the Oakland series starting on Friday can be the final hurdle to a postseason appearance and an American League West title. Winning against a division team head-to-head can double the value of the win with regards to the magic number.

With Seattle sitting in second place, a combination of an Astros win and a Seattle loss will also count double.  In the best case scenario, the Astros could punch their ticket to the postseason with a win Friday and Saturday against Oakland and one Seattle loss on either of those days.

Let’s take a look at matchups to measure the odds of that happening for the Astros this weekend.

On Friday, the opening game of the three-game set against Oakland, the Astros have Zack Greinke on the bump sitting at 11-6 with a 4.11 ERA facing off against Oakland’s Frankie Montas, who is 12-9 with a 3.57 ERA for the season. While Greinke has struggled as of late, he has owned Oakland this year so far in two outings.

Greinke has faced 46 batters and given up seven hits, and Oakland, as a team, is hitting .152 with a .196 slugging percentage. Greinke could definitely get the magic number down to one or clinch with this game depending on what Seattle does in their game.

Seattle has Logan Gilbert on the bump who is 6-5 with a 4.74 ERA versus the Angels’ Jose Suarez who is 7-8 with a 3.67 ERA this is definitely one of the best chances for a minus two night for the magic number.

Saturday has a great matchup as Houston’s Framber Valdez currently posting an 11-5 record with a 3.07 ERA versus Oakland’s Sean Manaea, who has a 4.05 ERA with a 10-10 record. With the way Valdez has been pitching, the Astros should be able lock up their postseason appearance on Saturday.

With only eight games left in the season for Saturday’s start and the Astros currently seven games up this game could win it all and punch the Astros playoffs ticket the Angels play their part.  Seattle is starting Tyler Anderson who is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA since joining the Mariners versus Anaheim’s Jaime Barria who is 2-4 with a 4.77 ERA.

Sunday is probably the worst matchup of the three for the Astros, as Jake Odorizzi is scheduled to start at 6-7 with a 4.22 ERA this season. He faces off against Paul Blackburn who is 1-3 this season with a 5.17 ERA. This is definitely a wild card game, as either of these pitchers could have a horrible or a good game, time will tell.

This game also could prove to be vitally important if the Astros don’t win one of the other games and the Mariners keep winning, then we are looking at the final seven games with a magic number of three and all seven are against playoff caliber teams.

Sunday, however, will be the toughest matchup for the Mariners as they throw Marco Gonzales who is 9-5 with a 4.14 ERA versus the Angels star Shohei Ohtani who is 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA, which is solid but even more so pitching at home Ohtani has posted a 2.77 ERA this season.

This could be the best chance for a Seattle loss and perhaps a clinch for the Astros, who I would love see sweep the Athletics. But I also wouldn’t mind seeing the Mariners lose at the same time.

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All in all the best case scenario is for the Astros to win the first two and the Mariners lose one of their next two games in Anaheim, clinching it for the Astros on Saturday night with the magic number being met by a combo of Astros win (-1), Seattle loss (-1), and finally another Astros win.

After a close loss on Thursday, the Astros return to action in Oakland on Friday at 8:40 p.m. Regarding recent roster moves, Ryne Stanek was activated from the paternity list, as Josh James was optioned to the taxi squad. Brandon Bielak and Seth Martinez remained on the roster since their arms were fresh. Tyler Ivey and Pedro Baez were sent on rehab assignments to Triple-A Sugar Land.