When forming our MLB picks, we note that this is a matchup between left-handed pitchers in Game 2 of an AL West series between the Angels and Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night.
Astros vs. Angels MLB Picks: What You Need to Know
Will the Angels have right fielder and leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun for this game? He hadn't played since Monday with a calf injury but there was a chance he returned Friday night. If not, then this game. Calhoun had a breakout 2014 season for the majors' highest-scoring offense, batting .272 with 17 homers, 58 RBIs and a .325 on-base percentage (that needs to be higher) in 493 at-bats. He started this season hitting .238 with a homer, five RBIs and awful .238 on-base percentage.
Of course the Angels remain without left fielder Josh Hamilton as he recovers from a shoulder injury. It still remains to be seen if Hamilton ever plays another game in an Angels uniform as owner Arte Moreno recently wouldn't guarantee that. He claimed the Angels inserted a clause in Hamilton's contract that could void it if he had a drug or alcohol relapse, which he did. The Players' Association has said no individual contract wording can supersede the Joint Drug Agreement between the MLBPA and owners. However, the commissioner's seems to be siding with the Angels: “We obviously have a different view than the players’ association regarding the club’s rights under these circumstances,” MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem told the L.A. Times this week. We could be looking at arbitration to decide Hamilton's future, but he won't be ready to play until next month.
One cool thing about this game that has nothing to do with MLB picks is that it's part of the Astros' 50th Anniversary Weekend. The franchise debuted in 1962 as the Colt .45s but the name was changed to Astros in 1965. As part of this celebration, the Astros and Angels players and coaches will wear replica uniforms from the 1965 season. Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton will be on the field to handle the introductions of the 1965 players on hand. Also, NASA astronauts will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, replicating the first pitch ceremony from the Astrodome's first regular-season game April 12, 1965. Might be worth checking out if you get the chance.
From an on-field perspective, this matchup features the reigning AL batting champion in diminutive Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who is off to a slightly slow start, and reigning AL MVP Mike Trout, who is among the league's batting leaders.
C.J. Wilson starts for the Angels. He was very inconsistent in 2014 and is off to a similar start thus far. He was brilliant in his season debut, shutting out the Mariners over eight innings at Safeco Field, allowing just two hits and one walk. Wilson retired the final 17 batters he faced. If it wasn't so early in the season, perhaps he gets the chance for a complete game. Wilson threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes. However, in start No. 2 at home vs. the Royals last Sunday, Wilson was knocked around for seven runs and nine hits in 5.2 innings in a 9-2 loss. That's pretty much what Wilson is these days: you never know which get you will get.
Last season, Wilson was hit harder by the Astros than any team, going 2-2 with a 7.33 ERA in five starts over 23.1 innings. Houston batters hit .330 off him with 32 hits and five home runs, while Wilson walked 11. Altuve is 8-for-26 with two home runs and three RBIs career off Wilson. Chris Carter is 9-for-25 with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs. Carter, who hit 37 homers last year, has been atrocious so far this season, batting .067 with no homers or RBIs entering Friday. Frankly, he has been the worst player in the AL.
Dallas Keuchel get the call for the MLB odds underdogs tonight, and he's their ace now. Keuchel shut out the Indians over seven innings on four hits in his season debut then took a shutout into the seventh inning Sunday at the Rangers before allowing two runs. Like Wilson, Keuchel isn't a big strikeout guy, with Keuchel mostly a ground-ball pitcher. Last year against the Angels, Keuchel was 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA in four starts over 25.2 innings. He struck out 18 and walked five, with the Halos hitting .296 off him with two homers. Trout has five singles and eight strikeouts against him career in 19 at-bats. Albert Pujols is 5-for-14 with two doubles and homer. David Freese has had the most success, going 7-for-11 with a homer and six knocked in. Because Keuchel is a southpaw, the Halos may start right-hander Collin Cowgill at DH over lefty Matt Joyce.
MLB Betting Verdict
Could Wilson bring his "A game" and be great? Sure, but I don't trust him at all so take Houston and the 'over' at Pinnacle. The Angels are 3-12 in Wilson's past 12 road starts. Houston has won Keuchel's past seven starts. The 'over' is 5-0 in Wilson's past five against the Astros.
MLB Free Picks: Astros & Over