MLB Betting Breakdown: Astros vs. Rangers 3-Game Series

Willie Bee

Thursday, April 21, 2016 12:08 PM GMT

Houston sends Dallas Keuchel to the mound at Texas, looking to avoid the Rangers' brooms. The MLB odds say the Astros will leave town with one win in the set.

21th April
Astros vs. Rangers Game 3

By: Willie Bee

 

 

Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
Every now and then, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers engage in a low-scoring battle. Such was the case Wednesday when the Rangers used a 2nd-inning homer by Roughned Odor and fine pitching from Cole Hamels and the bullpen for a 2-1 triumph.

Texas now takes aim at a sweep Thursday night, and it won't be easy with Houston sending ace Dallas Keuchel to the bump. The Astros are chalked in the -150s on the MLB odds for the 8:05 PM (ET) tilt, AJ Griffin getting the start for the Rangers and Pinnacle listing 9 for the total.

 

Griffin Owns Perfect Record Vs. Astros
Keuchel is coming off the best of his three 2016 starts, blanking the Tigers last weekend in Houston for the first eight innings of a 1-0 Astros triumph. The southpaw limited Detroit to five hits -- all singles -- and a walk, striking out four in the process. The lone walk was a good sign after Keuchel issued 10 free passes his first two starts. He saw Texas five times in 2015, four quality efforts and three Houston wins. The worst outing of his Cy Young season did take place in this park, the Rangers chasing him before he got through the fifth in mid-September having socked three homers and plated nine runs.

After missing the last two seasons with injuries, Griffin signed with Texas last winter and has done a good job in his first two assignments. Both appearances came on the road in Anaheim and Seattle, making Houston his 3rd-straight AL West foe to face. Control problems limited the former USD standout to just five innings a week ago against the Mariners, but the good news was Griffin managed to top the 100 pitch mark proving his elbow and shoulder are sound now. He was something of an Astros killer three years ago while still with the A's, making four starts vs. Houston and Oakland winning each time.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Bill Welke, who has assumed crew chief duties with John Hirschbeck missing from this series, is scheduled to call balls and strikes Thursday evening. It's the fourth plate assignment of the season for the 17-year veteran, each of the first three sailing past totals on the baseball odds board. His last four games back of the dish in Arlington stayed 'under' the numbers, Texas winning his last three plate assignments here.

The weather system that has caused problems in Texas the past several days should bring more rain to Arlington during the day, but should clear off by game time. The problems Houston has in this rivalry will also continue, making Texas my easy MLB pick on a plus line.

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Free MLB Pick: Rangers +140
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

20th April
Astros vs. Rangers Game 2

By: Willie Bee

 

 

Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
It wasn't quite the one-sided affair I envisioned, but it was good enough to cash a run line play. Texas put up a crooked number early to put the Houston Astros in a hole they couldn't climb out of in the 7-5 final, and the Rangers continued their recent dominance over the Lone Star rivals to stay atop the AL West standings.

The win was Texas' 8th-straight at home over Houston, and the Rangers will try and make it nine in a row Wednesday night (8:05 PM ET) behind lefthander Cole Hamels who is favored on a -133 moneyline at Pinnacle. Doug Fister is up next in the Astros rotation, the MLB odds for the clash showing 9 for the total.

 

Hamels, Rangers On Long Winning Streak Together
Fister was seen as a no-lose free agent signing in the offseason since the Astros didn't have to forfeit a draft pick when he inked his incentive-laden contract. The former Fresno State star will really have to pick his game up if he's going to earn any of those incentives after allowing nine runs and 14 hits in his first 10.2 innings with Houston. He's now going to have to get his slow start turned around in a ballpark that has seen some of the ugliest outings of his career. Fister has made three starts on the mound in Arlington, never making it through the fifth inning and allowing 18 earned runs (11.85 ERA).

Texas has won Hamels' last 13 starts, three of them this season. About the only blemish on his scorecard has been the tendency to allow home runs in Arlington, all three of the long balls Hamels has given up coming in the two starts (12.1 IP) at home. One of the victories during this current streak for Texas came against the Astros last September. Hamels took a no-decision in the eventual 5-3 Rangers win, pitching the first seven frames and charged with all three Houston runs.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
An umpire I score in the 'very inconsistent' category is behind the plate tonight as Marvin Hudson settles in beneath the mask. It's his third game calling balls and strikes, the MLB odds running 2-1 O/U on the totals and tonight's tilt Hudson's second in Arlington for 2016. The 18-year veteran worked one of the Opening Home Series for the Rangers, a 10-2 Seattle win that went well past a 9 run scoreboard tally.

There's more rain in the Arlington forecast, but the teams should be able to get this one in. I'm tempted to come right back with another run line play for my free MLB pick, but will go with Texas on the moneyline instead.

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Free MLB Pick: Rangers -121
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

19th April
Astros vs. Rangers Game 1

By: Willie Bee

 

Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
Amid widespread flooding across most of the eastern half of the Lone Star State, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will attempt to begin a 3-game set Tuesday night.

The Houston area bore the brunt of the rain on Sunday and Monday, and even with a roof on Minute Maid Park, it's actually better that the series won't be played there due to massive flooding that might have prevented Astros players getting to the field from their homes or for the Rangers to even get into the city. It's not much better in Arlington where the Tuesday forecast shows a 60% chance of thunderstorms in the DFW metroplex. With this the first of three trips for Houston into Arlington, along with several mutual days off the two clubs share, umpires could call an early postponement for Game 1.

Assuming it does go on as scheduled, Derek Holland will deliver the game's first pitch for the Rangers at 8:05 PM (ET), Scott Feldman opposing him on the Astros side. Texas went out as -125 chalk at Pinnacle, the overnight MLB odds showing 9 for the total, all sports books taxing the 'over' a little extra.

 

Teams On Opposite Ends Of AL West Standings
The rivalry gets renewed with Texas on top of the division and Houston bringing up the rear, two games back in a tightly-bunched AL West. The Rangers took two of three at home over the weekend from the Baltimore Orioles in a rain-shortened set that ended with a rainout on Sunday. The Astros also took two of three on their field this past weekend, winning their first series of the season at Detroit's expense.

Houston has yet to win back-to-back games, something Feldman will be trying to help end when he goes up against his old teammates. Both of his previous starts ended in Astros defeat, one in which Feldman didn't pitch well and the other that his own defense and bullpen cost him and the team. The 6-7 righthander pitched for Texas his first eight years in the big leagues, and he didn't have any luck against the Rangers last season when Feldman lost both assignments at home allowing 10 runs over the course of 8.2 innings. Elvis Andrus (.346), Prince Fielder (.313) and Roughned Odor (.357) have been his toughest outs in the lineup.

Holland will be pitching in front of the home fans for the first time in 2016, the Rangers splitting his two starts at Anaheim and Seattle. The southpaw missed more than four months last season with a bum shoulder and recorded an ERA in excess of five on the mound in Arlington. He only made 10 starts in 2015, and three of them came against the Astros, none of which were very good. Holland allowed 10 runs in just under 12 innings, the trio of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Jason Castro doing a lot of the damage.

Both Pitching Staffs Troubled By Home Runs
This series has belonged to Texas over the years, starting initially as an annual interleague rivalry before the teams became division foes. Since Houston joined the AL, the Rangers have won 38 of 57 meetings, taking 13 of the 19 in 2015. Texas won the last seven played on this diamond, totals running 5-4-1 O/U/P in the 10 played at Arlington.

The teams rank in the top half of the American League in scoring, but the bottom half in pitching where the Astros are dead last with a 4.86 ERA. Both staffs have been prone to the home run, Texas giving up a league-high 22 and the Astros next-to-last serving up 20.

Anyone who has followed this series since its inception can tell you about how often the Rangers pour the runs on in a rout on their home field. Feldman seems like the guy who could help them get one of those started, which is why my free MLB pick will be Texas on the run line.

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Free MLB Pick: Rangers -1½ (+175)
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline