McCullers Consistency Makes Astros -1.5 a Solid MLB Pick Over Twins

David Lawrence

Saturday, September 5, 2015 3:09 PM GMT

Saturday, Sep. 5, 2015 3:09 PM GMT

Both teams are trying to solidify postseason spots, with the Astros in better shape but not being completely out of the woods. Here’s a look at tonight’s game odds in Texas.

Momentum
The Astros pounded the Twins Friday night in the first game of this series. Before that, however, the Twins won a series against the Chicago White Sox while the Astros surprisingly dropped a series at home against the Seattle Mariners. Before that, the Twins won two of three against the Astros in Minneapolis. Minnesota is slowly inching up in the American League wild card race, trailing the Texas Rangers in the pursuit of that second wild card spot. The Astros are also keeping their eyes on Texas. The Astros have a modest lead of three games in the American League West, and want to be able to avoid falling into the wild card game. The one thing the Astros can achieve here by beating the Twins is to ensure that even if Texas catches them for the division, they will secure that second wild card spot and make their first postseason appearance in several years. Friday got the Astros off to a good start, and they’ll try to build on that performance in this game.

 

Pitching Matchup
With Ervin Santana on the mound, the Twins have to have mixed feelings. On one hand, Santana shut out the Astros in seven strong innings last weekend in Minnesota. The scoreline was brilliant: Santana didn’t walk anyone. He struck out 10. He scattered six hits and was outstanding. The problem with Santana is that in his previous six starts, he got rocked, giving up anywhere from five to eight runs in four of them, and four runs in a fifth start. This is why his ERA is 5.40. He never gave up fewer than three runs in any of those last six outings. What’s even weirder about Santana is that in the two starts before that awful six-game sequence, he pitched shutouts of at least 7 2/3 innings (back in the middle of July, just after the All-Star break). Santana is an enigmatic pitcher; you do not know what you’re going to get with him.

Houston will give the ball to Lance McCullers. He has a 3.21 ERA. However, the Twins handled him last weekend, as he gave up three runs in six innings – okay, but not overpowering. McCullers struggled with his control, walking four batters. McCullers has been more consistent than Santana, but he is not as much of a workhorse when he’s on. McCullers hasn’t pitched beyond the seventh inning in any of his last 10 starts.

 

What’s The Pick?
The consistency of McCullers matters a lot more than Santana’s last great outing against Houston. If anything, the fact that Santana was so good against the Astros a week ago makes it less likely that he can be as good here. With a solid bullpen, Houston should probably be able to get a lead after six innings and protect it. I don't like laying a ton of juice with my MLB picks but I feel they're the better play, so I'll lay the runline.

MLB Pick: Houston -1.5 +103 at The Greek

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