Texas opened this key series with rival Houston with a victory Monday night, giving us a welcome winner with our free pick. Do we ride the Rangers Tuesday night, or jump ship?
Astros-Rangers Tuesday Odds
As of early Tuesday AM the best price we could find on Texas with lefty Derek Holland was the -109 at Heritage, while Houston with Collin McHugh was getting +103 at BookMaker. Also, while most of the market listed a total on tonight's game of 8.5 runs, there were a few nines out there on SBR's MLB odds page as well.
The Rangers cut the Astros' lead in the AL West race to a half-game with a 5-3 victory Monday night, getting a tie-breaking, game-winning, two-run home run from Prince Fielder in the bottom of the eighth. The Rangers also still lead Minnesota by a game in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
So Texas has won three of its last four games, while Houston has lost five of its last seven.
The Rangers now lead this season series nine games to four, with the totals going 5-7-1.
Holland (3-2, 3.13) is three-for-six on quality starts this season, which for him has been shortened greatly by a four-month absence because of a bad shoulder. Last Thursday he gave up five runs in seven innings against Seattle, but in his two starts previous to that he held Baltimore and the Angels to just one run and six hits through 17 innings, with 16 strikeouts. For the season Holland has allowed 32 hits through 37 innings, walked just five and struck out 30.
Texas is 3-3 in Holland's starts, with the totals leaning UNDER by a 4-1 margin.
Holland started once against Houston last year, giving up three runs – two earned – in seven innings of a 4-3 Rangers victory. He then started against the Astros back on April 10 of this season, but lasted just one inning before leaving the game with his injured shoulder.
McHugh (16-7, 3.89) is 16-for-28 on quality starts, by our count, and six for his last seven. Last Wednesday he gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings against Oakland, although all the damage came after his team gave him a 7-0 lead. And over his six starts previous to that he held opponents to just seven runs through 41 innings. On the season McHugh has allowed 181 hits through 178 innings, walked 46 and struck out 147.
The Astros are a solid 18-10 in McHugh's starts, with the totals splitting 13-13.
In three career starts against Texas, one last year and two this year, McHugh has allowed just four runs through 19 innings; Houston won all three of those games, and all three games played UNDER.
Tuesday's Batting Splits
Houston ranks 14th in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .319 team on-base percentage, and seventh with a .422 team slugging percentage.
Texas, on the other hand, ranks fifth against right-handed pitching with a .325 team OBP and 12th with a .411 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
After last night's game pushed its total of eight runs the UNDERS remained 33-28 in Rangers home games this season, even though they're averaging 9.6 runs.
Astros-Rangers Free Picks
Momentum can mean a ton when handicapping baseball games, and right now Texas has it, while Houston does not. We'll stick with the Rangers with our MLB picks tonight. Also, we can see this game getting to 5-4, so we're thinking OVER.
Free MLB Picks: Texas and OVER 8.5 runs (-110) at Pinnacle