The Rangers went off this season as a 12/1 shot to win the AL West & just took over 1st place on Tuesday. With just 18 games to go do we ride along with the Rangers with our MLB picks?
Astros-Rangers Wednesday Odds
As of this writing the best line we could find on Houston with Dallas Keuchel was the -147 at Heritage, while Texas and fellow lefty Martin Perez were getting +139 at 5Dimes. The Astros were also being offered at +115 on the run line at Heritage.
Texas has taken the first two games of this AL West showdown series, including a 6-5 decision Tuesday night, scoring the winning run on an always-exciting sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth. So the Rangers (77-67), with four wins in their last five games, have taken over the lead in the AL West by a half-game over Houston (77-68), which has lost six of its last eight.
In relinquishing the top spot in the division the Astros dropped into the AL wild-card race, where they lead Minnesota by a game and a half in the battle for the second wild-card slot.
Texas now leads this Lone Star season series 10 games to four, with the totals going 6-7-1.
Perez (2-5, 5.43), by our tough accounting, is just three-for-10 on quality starts since re-joining the Texas rotation back in July, after elbow surgery, and 0 for his last four. Last Wednesday he gave up five runs in five innings against Seattle, and over his last four starts he's allowed 14 runs through 22 1/3 innings. For the season Perez has allowed more hits, 64, than innings pitched, 55, while compiling a rather mediocre K/BB ratio of 32/18.
Texas is 5-5 in games Perez has started, with the totals, thanks to some poor run support, leaning UNDER by a 7-3 margin.
In his one start this season against Houston Perez gave up three runs and nine hits through five innings of a 3-2 Rangers loss back in July.
Keuchel (17-7, 2.22) is 22-for-29 on quality starts, working on a string of eight in a row. Last Friday he gave up three runs – none earned – in six innings against the Angels, while over his last eight starts he's allowed just 12 ER through 55 2/3 innings (that's a 1.94 ERA). On the season Keuchel has allowed 160 hits through 207 innings, walked 46 and whiffed 192 for a K/BB ratio of better than 4/1.
The Astros are 20-9 in Keuchel's starts, with the UNDERS going 16-13.
Keuchel has already started three times against Texas this season, allowing just three runs and 13 hits through 22 innings, with 24 strikeouts; Houston won two of those games, with the only loss coming by a score of 2-1.
Wednesday's Batting Splits
Houston ranks 12th in the Bigs this season against left-handed pitching with a .321 team on-base percentage, and sixth with a .424 team slugging percentage.
Texas, meanwhile, ranks 22nd against lefties with a .309 team OBP and 16th with a .396 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Globe Life Park this season are 33-29 on the UNDERS, even though they're averaging 9.6 runs per.
Astros-Rangers Free Picks
We've hit with Texas in the first two games of this series mainly because we played along with Big Mo. And despite the pitching match-up we'll stick with the Rangers tonight with our MLB pick, getting the underdog price.
MLB Pick: Texas +139 at 5Dimes