Grab The Chalk & Pick Astros At Home Over Angels

Friday, May 27, 2016 2:44 PM GMT

There could be a very reasonable road favorite on the West Coast that holds nice value Friday night with the Houston Astros being the MLB pick visiting the Los Angeles Angels.

MLB Record: 29-28-1, +4.70
The road favorites could be undervalued in a late night West Coast contest Friday to kick off Memorial Day weekend when Mike Fiers and the Houston Astros (20-28, 7-15 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Matt Shoemaker and the Los Angeles Angels (21-26, 9-14 home) in the opening game of a three-game series from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA at 10:05 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - West.

The posted money line at Heritage Sports has Houston as a small road favorite for this contest at current MLB odds of -112.

Astros Disappointing Until Now
The young Astros extended to eventual World Champion Kansas City Royals to the maximum five games in the ALDS as a wild card last season, and that experience helped make them the favorites to win the American League West this year and had some experts anointing them World Series Champs. Instead they have probably been the biggest disappointment in baseball in last place at 20-28, but things may be turning after a three-game sweep of Baltimore.

The Angels were off to a slow start this year before going on a hot streak that saw them win eight out of 11 games, but that momentum was halted when they were the losing MLB picks in the last two games of a three-game series vs. the Texas Rangers in Arlington. That leaves Los Angeles five games below .500 at 21-26 and in third place in the division, but they are closer to last place leading the Astros by just 1½ games than to first place, trailing Seattle by 7½ games.

Nice Peripherals for Fiers
The Astros now look to build on their sweep of the Orioles by sending Fiers to the mound, who has pitched better than his 4.35 ERA while going 3-2. Fiers has now allowed two runs or less in four of his last five starts, most recently limiting Texas to two runs and six hits in seven innings with six strikeouts and not a single walk in a very unfortunate 2-1 loss last Saturday.

Fiers can be downright nasty when he has his best stuff, as demonstrated by the no-hitter he tossed for the Astros after they acquired him from the Milwaukee Brewers at the trading deadline last year, and his command numbers have remained excellent this season as he has 37 strikeouts vs. just seven walks, helping lead to a 3.40 xFIP that belies his ERA.

The only kink in the arsenal of Fiers is the nine home runs allowed already, but that may not be as much of a concern pitching in Anaheim, as the ball does not carry well in this stadium at night. Besides, the Angels are 28th or third from the bottom in the Major Leagues in home runs with just 39 as a team all year.

Was Great Rookie Year by Shoemaker a Fluke?
Shoemaker broke into the majors with a great rookie year in 2014 when he went a sensational 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA, and his 3.26 FIP and 3.28 xFIP that season was evidence of just how good he really was. However his strikeouts have gone down and his walks have gone up since then, and he has been so bad that he spent small parts of last year and this year in the minor leagues.

That is because Shoemaker has been thunderstruck more often than not this year while going 2-5 with a bloated 6.81 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, and his career high 3.16 walks per nine innings have not helped matters. Granted, Shoemaker come off of his best start of this year and one of the best of his career as he allowed just three hits in 7.1 innings with 12 strikeouts and not a single walk vs. the Orioles Saturday, but that start came out of nowhere.

Given how badly Shoemaker was struggling before that monster effort, we think it was just an anomaly and simply do not trust him to repeat such a performance here tonight.

Angels Playing Down to Competition
Finally, the Angels have had a poor habit of playing down to the level of their competition, going a disconcerting 1-9 in their last 10 games vs. teams with losing records including 0-6 in their last six home games vs. such teams! The Halos are also 1-8 in Shoemaker's last nine starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance, which points to how erratic he has been since his rookie year.

Now the Angels are facing a dangerous team with a losing record with the Astros obviously being more talented than they have shown, so look for those trends to continue and back Houston as a mild road favorite over Shoemaker and the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on Friday.

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Free MLB Pick: Houston Astros -114
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker