With a deadly lineup and better-than-expected pitching, the Houston Astros have become the team to beat according to baseball futures odds. Can they keep it up the rest of the summer?
It’s a great time to be following the Houston Astros, both as a fan and a baseball bettor. A 22-7 run through May left the Astros with the best record in baseball by five wins entering the season’s third month and up more than 17 units on the season, by far the best return against the MLB odds.
It also sets Houston up as the team with the best chance to win the 2017 World Series at BookMaker. The Astros are currently listed with a +465 return on the board, putting them ahead of the Nationals (+525), Dodgers (+550), Cubs (+580) and Red Sox (+700), four teams they trailed on the baseball futures odds back in March.
Speaking for those of us who have followed the franchise since its inception in 1962, however, we’re cautiously optimistic about the next four months. In other words, we’re sort of hanging around waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that could be this weekend.
Will ‘Stros Deal Prospects For Another Frontline Arm?
This weekend, Houston continues a long road trip by heading up I-45 in Arlington against the Texas Rangers, the series opener pitting each team’s ace, Dallas Keuchel and Yu Darvish, and part of our free baseball pick lineup at SBR. That North Texas ballpark has been something of a Little Shop of Horrors for the Astros, and after winning 3 of 4 from the Rangers in Houston to open May taking 2 of 3 from Texas here just might propel the Astros through the rest of the summer.
Houston batters have been hitting on all cylinders as evidenced by the 40 runs plated in a sweep of the Twins in Minnesota. It was the second consecutive broom job for the Astros and sixth time in two months they won at least three games in a single series. We knew the lineup would be dangerous (2nd in MLB at 5.41 RPG), but the pitching has been better than expected with Houston also second in the majors sporting a 3.49 ERA.
The rotation lost Keuchel for a start a couple of weeks ago due to a pinched nerve in his neck and saw Charlie Morton (lat strain) and Joe Musgrove (shoulder) hit the DL earlier this week. It’s expected the Astros are already looking for a potential trade partner to land another starting pitcher, and GM Jeff Luhnow is hoping that the right deal comes about this month when a few additional teams might declare themselves to be traders on the market.
Nats Visit LA For Showdown With Dodgers
Houston ends this long roadie next week with four games in Kansas City, a place the Astros have posted dubyas six of their last nine clashes. Though crucial, that isn’t the marquee series to begin Week 10 since the Washington Nationals will be visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With the Cubs floundering, the Nats and Dodgers have moved to the top of the list for a potential NLCS and there should be plenty of stellar pitching in the series. Max Scherzer is on target to start Game 2 of the set for Washington, if current rotations hold, but it’s the finale Wednesday that is must-see, with Stephen Strasburg facing off vs. Clayton Kershaw, those two arms helping their teams to a combined 17-4 record.
Eight of Kershaw’s 11 assignments have closed with LA at least -200 chalk on baseball odds boards, but we suspect this will be the fourth time he and the Dodgers are at a more reasonable price, though still lofty. Strasburg has just one career start at Dodger Stadium (7 IP, 1 ER), and that came in 2012. Look for him and the Nationals to be +150 to +160 underdogs for the matinee at Chavez Ravine.