The upstart Astros have led the AL West almost all season, but a recent slump has this handicapper wondering if they can hang on. Houston is a short MLB odds favorite for Game 2 of this series.
Astros-Angels Saturday Odds
As of this writing the best line we could find on Houston with Lance McCullers was the -118 at BetOnline, while Anaheim and Hector Santiago were getting +116 at Bookmaker. The Astros could also be played getting +136 on the run line at Pinnacle.
Anaheim, almost in must-win mode, took Game 1 of this series Friday night 3-2, getting a quality start from Jered Weaver and three perfect innings from the bullpen. So the Angels have won six of their last nine games, while Houston has lost six of its last nine.
Big-picture, Houston's lead in the AL West now sits at a game and a half over second-place Texas, 4.5 games over Anaheim. The Angels also sit three games behind the Rangers in the battle for the second American League wild-card berth.
The Astros lead this season series eight games to six, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS by a 9-4-1 margin.
Santiago (8-9, 3.24), by our strict standards, is 12-for-27 on quality starts this year, and only one for his last four. Last Sunday he held Texas scoreless on one hit through six innings, although he also walked six batters. And over his previous three starts Santiago gave up 12 earned runs through just 10 2/3 innings. For the season, though, Santiago has allowed fewer hits, 134, than innings pitched, 158, walked 60 and struck out 145.
Anaheim is 13-14 in Santiago's starts, with the UNDERS going 14-13.
Santiago has started twice this season against Houston, allowing just one run and three hits through 12 1/3 innings; the Angels only managed to split those two games, while both games played UNDER.
McCullers (5-5, 3.07) is eight-for-17 on quality starts, and two for his last three. Last Saturday he held Minnesota to one run through seven innings, and over his last three starts he's held foes to six runs through 20 innings. On the season McCullers has given up fewer hits, 80, than innings pitched, 97, walked 34 and struck out 101.
The Astros, thanks in part to some poor run support, are only 7-10 in McCullers' starts, with the totals splitting 7-7.
McCullers has started twice this season against Anaheim, giving up just two runs through 13 innings; Houston only managed to split those two games, with the loss coming by a score of 2-1.
Saturday's Batting Splits
Houston ranks 15th in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .319 team on-base percentage, and fifth with a .424 team slugging percentage.
On the other hand Anaheim ranks just 23rd against right-handed pitching with a .308 team OBP and 20th with a .399 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Big A this season are 40-31 on the UNDERS, averaging 7.5 runs per, fourth-fewest among all ML ballparks.
Astros-Angels Free Picks
Houston owns an edge with the sticks and in the comparison of the bullpens, but has been terrible on the the road this season, winning just 13 of its last 47 games away from home. The Astros also seem to be sliding a bit back toward reality, while Anaheim is playing with some urgency. We like the value with the home dog for tonight's MLB picks. Also, both starting pitchers have been tough on tonight's opponents this season, so we're thinking playing UNDER the MLB odds total.
MLB Pick: Angels and UNDER eight runs (+100) at Pinnacle.