MLB Free Pick: Play Rays to Even Series at Astros

tampa bay rays

Willie Bee

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 12:42 PM GMT

After Houston bashed its way to a 14-7 win over Tampa Bay on Monday, the MLB odds for Game 2 of the set are very tight as Chris Archer battles Mike Fiers on the mound.

MLB Season Record: 52-58-2 (-4.54)

Now that the talking heads at ESPN are done criticizing Houston for not making enough trades at the deadline for them to talk about, maybe the Astros can shut them up for a while and get back to what they do best -- which is bashing the baseball. They did that and then some in Monday’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, pasting a 14-7 number on the visitors and making Bookmaker look smart for closing the home side on a -140 chalk line.

The clubs go right back to work this evening with another 8:10 (ET) contest, Chris Archer (7-6, 3.80) taking his turn in the Tampa rotation opposite Mike Fiers (7-5, 3.71). MLB odds for the affair are close to a pick ‘em with Houston slightly favored and 8-8½ for the total.

 

Rays 6-1 When Archer Faces Astros

Archer enjoyed a decent July with a 3.41 ERA and 46 strikeouts in a little less than 32 innings. But after winning his first two starts of the month, the Rays dropped his last three due to a combination of support, defense and bullpen help. The 28-year-old missed seeing the Astros when they came to the Sunshine State a few months back, and he has done very well against them in the past. Tampa Bay has cashed six of his seven career assignments against Houston, Archer pitching to a sparkling 1.67 ERA (48.1 IP).

Fiers didn’t make it past the fifth when the Astros were in St. Pete back in April, leaving with the score knotted at three apiece. Houston rallied for a 6-3 decision in what was the series opener then. The Astros have won seven of his 11 road starts compared to 5 of 9 home assignments, but Fiers sports a much better ERA at Minute Maid Park (2.85), which has helped ‘under’ bettors post a marginal profit in his Houston appearances (4-5 O/U).

 

Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick

Crew chief Jeff Kellogg is slated to call balls and strikes this evening, and the veteran has shown no lean one way or another this year with a 10-9-1 O/U/P record. It’s his first look at either the Astros or Rays in 2017 – and first plate assignment in Houston in more than two years – while contests that closed with 8-8½ run totals are 7/4 O/U.

We’re not worried about the weather tonight with the roof shut at Minute Maid. Monday’s matchup marked the fourth ‘over’ in as many games between the clubs this year, and I’m tempted to go that way in this one. Instead, I’m getting behind Archer’s success against the Astros for my free baseball pick.

Free MLB Pick: Rays +102Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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