The Houston Astros top the MLB money chart, making them the best team for MLB picks so far this season. They're up against a tough challenge as they continue a four-game series in Detroit Friday night.
Astros-Tigers Game 2
In the early betting Detroit and Alfredo Simon were favored by around -115 over Houston and Collin McHugh, with a MLB odds total of eight runs, although there were a few 8.5's out there.
Game 1 Recap
Detroit took a 5-0 lead into the seventh inning Thursday afternoon, allowed Houston to come back and tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the ninth, then won it on rookie James McCann's lead-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh 6-5. The Tigers, with David Price on the hill, went off Thursday as a -150 favorite on the betting line, and the game played OVER its total of eight runs.
Despite the loss the Astros have still won seven of their last nine games. They've also scored at least five runs in six of their last eight games.
At 27-15 Houston leads Kansas City by one game in the battle for the best record in the American League.
At 25-17 Detroit sits in second place in the AL Central, and leads the American League wild-card race.
This is the first series between these two teams this season. Last year Detroit took four of seven games from Houston, with five of those games cashing MLB picks on the UNDER.
Simon is five-for-eight on quality starts this season, and two for his last two. Last Sunday he held St. Louis to two runs through six innings, although he had to scatter seven hits and four walks, and just before that he gave up just one run through 7 2/3 innings against Minnesota. For the season Simon has given up 17 earned runs and 49 hits through 50 1/3 innings, with 15 walks and 33 strikeouts. Detroit is 5-3 in Simon's starts, with the totals leaning UNDER 5-3.
McHugh, by our tough accounting, is four-for-eight on quality starts this year. Two weeks ago he held the Angels to two runs through 7 1/3 innings; then he got bombed for seven runs in less than five innings by the Giants; but last Sunday he held Toronto to two runs through seven frames, with nine strikeouts. On the season McHugh has allowed 23 ER and 50 hits through 50 2/3 innings, with an excellent K/BB ratio of 45/10; Houston is 7-1 in McHugh's starts, with the totals splitting 4-4.
Neither of these pitchers has ever started against tonight's opponents, although Simon has made a few relief appearances against Houston over past seasons.
In the Pens
A big part of Houston's turnaround this season has been the performance of its bullpen. Last year Astros relievers, as a group, ranked among the worst in baseball. This year the Houston pen ranks second in the Majors with a 2.20 ERA, is 16/20 on save conversions and owns a 143/32 K/BB ratio, the best in baseball.
The Detroit pen hasn't been too bad itself, ranking seventh in ERA at 2.79, with 14 saves in 18 chances.
Friday's Batting Splits
Houston ranks 10th in the Majors this season with a .725 team OPS against right-handed pitching.
Detroit ranks third against righties with a .756 OPS.
Houston is 12-5 on the road this season.
Games played at Comerica Park have leaned toward the UNDERS this season by a 13-10 margin, averaging 8.4 runs per.
Detroit is down one stick with DH Victor Martinez on the DL.
Game 2 Free Picks
At first glance we were leaning toward Houston for Friday night's free pick, but we give Simon a small edge in the pitching match-up, and the Tigers a short edge with the sticks. Also, tonight's hitters have limited experience against tonight's starting pitchers, so we're thinking UNDER.
Free MLB Picks: Detroit -103 at GT Bets and UNDER 8.5 runs (-110) at Heritage