Preview: Seattle Mariners (7-13) at Houston Astros (5-13)

USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros could overtake the Seattle Mariners in the A.L. West standings this series.

Felix Hernandez caused a bit of a fuss with a 90 MPH fastball to start the 2012 season. Was this the beginning of the end? Concerns were erased as his pitch speed climbed during the summer months and he logged another dominating season.

Once again, Felix is beginning the year much closer to 90 MPH than 95, but fewer are worried. Felix is off to one of his hottest starts, carving up the opposition with surgical precision. He doesn't need to throw hard when he can put any of his Looney Tunes pitches exactly where he wants. It's getting harder to remember the 2008 Felix that had strikeout and walk rates of 20.4% and 9.3%, respectively (so far this season: 24.6, 4.4).

While I'd prefer for him to stick right where he is, there is a small part of me curious to see how he'd do at 89, 88, 87. Would he still be one of the most dominant pitchers in the game? I tend to think he could, but I'll happily wait another decade to find out.

Felix's last outing came in the pitcher's duel with Max Scherzer, a game that will go down as one of the best of the season. After striking out 12 Tigers, he now faces a Houston Astros lineup that strikes out more than any other team in baseball.

The Astros counter with rookie Brad Peacock, who can strikeout his share of hitters as well. He didn't in his turn at Safeco Field, however, cutting down just three Mariners in five innings while giving up home runs to Kelly Shoppach and Franklin Gutierrez.

Time: 5:10 pm PDT
Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Television: ROOT Sports

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