Astros to Honor Title & Morton to Pour Salt in Orioles' Wounds

charlie morton

Mark Lathrop

Monday, April 2, 2018 11:28 AM GMT

Monday, Apr. 2, 2018 11:28 AM GMT

The Houston Astros hang their World Series banner on Monday night in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Mark Lathrop thinks they will hang more than banners on Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles.

2018 MLB Record: 2-1-1, +0.70u (1 Pending)

Baltimore Orioles (0-3 ATS) @ Houston Astros (3-1 ATS)Free MLB Pick: Astros -1.5 RLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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In a Monday evening (7:10) nationally televised event on ESPN, the Houston Astros will hang their 2017 World Championship banner before matching up with the Orioles to begin a 3-game series. The Astros are coming off of a series win at Texas, and Baltimore is coming off of a series loss to the Twins. Opening odds have the Astros favored heavily at -205 at 5Dimes, while the O/U total has opened at 9 across the board shaded towards the 'Over.'

Starting against the Astros on their banner hanging night is Chris Tillman, who is coming off of an injury-shortened 2017 season where he struggled mightily. He’s had command issues off and on all spring, which would be a continuation of his terrible 4.94 BB/9 rate in 2017. It’s hard to look at Tillman’s 2017 numbers and take anything serious from them as they are so bad. He had a .329 BAA split against left-handed batters and a .316 split against right-handers. He put up a 10.87 ERA on the road to go with a 6.16 FIP. The most surprising thing about Tillman last year was how long the Orioles kept running him out to pitch. Tillman faced Houston once at home in 2017, giving up 2 dingers and 3 earned runs in a no-decision.

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— Houston Astros (@astros) April 1, 2018
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Charlie Morton gets the nod for Houston as their 5th starter in their insanely deep pitching rotation. It’s fair that he gets the nod since he closed out the Dodgers to win the World Series for Houston. Other than being lights out in the World Series, Morton was fantastic in 2017 and put up a 3.46 FIP in 146.2 innings pitched. He had career-best strikeout numbers as well with a nice 10.00 K/9 rate – well over his career mark of 6.86 K/9. His drastic changes vs. left-handed batters is best illustrated in this article by Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs. Fascinating, really, that Morton was able to turn his career around to become a hero.

Other than Houston just being the better ball club than Baltimore right now, the one thing I really like about this matchup for Morton is that he didn’t face Baltimore in 2017. This will be the first time that they face the “new and improved” Charlie Morton. With the amped-up energy in the ball park from hanging the banner I also expect the Houston lineup to touch up Tillman quite a bit. Don’t think too hard with this one, and take Houston -1.5 on the run line as your Monday MLB Pick.

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