It will be “How the West was won” this weekend when the leaders of the American League West and National League West clash in San Francisco. The Houston Astros have won five of six to build a five and a half game lead in the AL West, while the Giants took two of three from the second-place Dodgers to expand their NL West lead to three games.
Houston Astros vs. San Francisco Giants
Friday, July 30, 2021 – 09:45 PM EDT at Oracle Park
In the National League, the San Francisco Giants are coming off of a series win over the second-place Dodgers, taking two of three to extend their lead to three games, the most breathing room they’ve had in the NL West since late June.
Both teams have watched the divisional rivals chasing them get better this week as the trade deadline, which will be passed by the time of the first pitch of the series, approached. The A’s picked up Starling Marte in an attempt to make a run at Houston, while the Dodgers swung a blockbuster deal, picking up Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals to try to run down the Giants. Take it into consideration for your MLB picks.
The Astros will have a new-look bullpen for the series after swinging a deadline-week trade of their own. Houston acquired Seattle closer Kendall Graveman and reliever Rafael Montero in the week’s first big trade. On Thursday, the Astros added yet another team’s closer, trading for the Marlins’ Yimi Garcia. All three pitchers should make their Astros debuts in the series against the Giants.
According to top sportsbooks, the two moves help shore up what has been a weak area for Houston this year. The Astros were just 16th in MLB in bullpen ERA and 20th in saves. Garcia had 15 saves for Miami and struck out 35 batters against just five walks. Graveman has 10 saves and an 0.82 ERA on the year.
The improved pen will be supported by an offense that has been hot recently. Houston has scored 5.5 runs a game over the last 12, with a .760 team OPS. Over the last six, the Astros have a .856 OPS with nine home runs.
Lefthander Framber Valdez will get things started in the series. He’s 6-2, 2.97 on the year, but he’s struggled in July, posting a 5.24 ERA in the first four starts of the month before appearing to right the ship with six shutout innings against the Rangers his last time out.
Adding From Within
Things may change as Friday’s 4:00 eastern trade deadline gets closer and deals start to fly, but the Giants have had a very quiet week leading up to the deadline, even as their rivals have taken steps to improve. San Francisco has been reported to be involved in talks for the biggest names on the market, but nothing was done in the days leading up to Friday.
Instead, the Giants improved with addition from within, returning two key players from stints on the injured list. Brandon Crawford was activated from the 10-day list on Thursday and doubled in his return to the lineup. An oblique strain interrupted what has been a career year for Crawford as he leads the team in hits, RBIs and home runs. Take it into consideration for your MLB odds.
The team also activated pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who had been on the 60-day injured list with a biceps problem. Sanchez hasn’t pitched since May 4, and the former starter is expected to join the Giants bullpen when he returns to the mound. Kevin Gausman will pitch Friday’s game for San Francisco. He’s 9-4, 2.21 on the year.
The Giants have the better record, but Houston has the hotter hand. Look for the Astros to get a win as Valdez continues his return to form and the bullpen gives Houston a boost in the opener.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.