Add Rangers Plus Money Line to your MLB Picks vs. Astros

Willie Bee

Friday, September 25, 2015 3:43 PM GMT

Friday, Sep. 25, 2015 3:43 PM GMT

It's the biggest series in a decade for the Houston Astros as they host the Texas Rangers on their final homestand, and we're previewing the contest with a free baseball pick.

Tenuous is defined as not uncertain or indefinite, flimsy, weak. The Houston Astros are redefining tenuous as their chances of making an entry in the 2015 American League playoffs.

The Astros begin their biggest series in nearly 10 years on Friday with the opener of a 3-game set against the Texas Rangers, a team that has already embarrassed Houston with four broom jobs in the previous six meetings. ESPN2 will carry the 8:10 PM (ET) start from Minute Maid Park, Yovani Gallardo and Scott Kazmir the initial mound duel.

This has been a pretty lopsided series dating to when the clubs were interleague rivals. Texas owns a 79-47 (.627) advantage since the teams first met in 2001, and 20-15 mark as AL West foes.  The Rangers have built both records this year by taking 12 of the 16 matchups. The MLB Odds opened with the 'Stros laying -140 on the moneyline, but we've seen that price come down to the mid-130s or lower at shops like The Greek. Scoreboard bettors are looking at 8 for the total.

Houston has not been able to use any home-field advantage over the course of the rivalry, the Rangers taking 37 of the 62 games played in the Bayou City. Texas has reeled off seven consecutive wins this year, all of those games played in Arlington, and taken four of the six played in Houston. Totals have been halved in the half-dozen contests at Minute Maid this season, the 'under' cashing in six of the last 10 on this diamond.

 

Gallardo Looking To Stop 2-Game Slide
Texas (83-69, +30.3 units) lowered its magic number to win the AL West to seven with a sweeping victory over Oakland on Thursday. The Rangers are 15-7 so far in September and wrap up their season next week at home against the Tigers and Angels.

Gallardo is coming off consecutive losses after the Rangers won his five previous starts. Both setbacks came at home to the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, Gallardo toiling a total of 9.1 innings while surrendering 15 hits and eight runs. The righthander has been pretty stingy with the long ball, however, serving up only 14 homers in 31 starts.

He beat the Astros the first time the teams met in April, hurling into the sixth and allowing only two runs while striking out seven. Houston has come back to beat him twice since then, though, including a July 19 outing on this field where the Astros raked for seven hits and five runs before Gallardo was sent to the showers after only four innings. Nobody in the Houston lineup has torn Gallardo up, per se, but the group is batting .298 against him.

 

Bullpen A Big Problem In Houston This Month
One reason Houston (80-73, -5.1 units) was able to surprise early and hold the division lead most of the season was a solid bullpen anchored by closer Luke Gregerson plus setup arms Will Harris and Pat Neshek. That trio is 0-7 in September with a couple of blown saves and 5.31 ERA.

Kazmir arrived in Houston with a 5-5 record and 2.38 ERA, and promptly enjoyed consecutive scoreless outings for his hometown club. It's been a bit rough from that point on, however, the Astros winning just two of his nine August-September starts while the southpaw pitched to a 4.26 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. After helping the Mariners to three wins over the Rangers in the first half of the season, both of Kazmir's starts vs. Texas since joining the Astros have been losses for the club. Still, the veteran owns a 1.60 ERA overall against the Rangers in five assignments this year.

With the thermometer reaching into the low-to-mid 90s today in Houston, expect the roof to be closed at Minute Maid Park. The way the Rangers and Astros have been going lately, I'll take Texas at plus-money all day long for my MLB pick.

MLB Pick: Rangers +125 at BetOnline

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