MLB Free Pick: Play the Rangers to Add to Astros’ Slump

Willie Bee

Friday, August 11, 2017 12:57 PM UTC

Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 12:57 PM UTC

Have the Houston Astros hit a wall already? Just 3-9 over their last dozen, the Astros begin a road trip Friday at the Rangers, and we have a free baseball pick in the Lone Star rivalry.

MLB Season Record: 59-59-3 (+1.90)

That black cloud you’ve been seeing on the radar screen? Well, it has been following the Houston Astros, and after a stellar first half they are suddenly looking less and less like a World Series caliber team. Houston was just swept by the lowly White Sox to fall to 2-7 in August, and now looks to get back on track in a park that has brought a lot of pain in the past when the Astros begin a weekend set at the Texas Rangers.

Houston will also be facing a pitcher it has had very little success against in Friday’s lid-lifter as Cole Hamels (6-1, 3.59) chucks for the Rangers against Charlie Morton (9-4, 3.78). The matchup of 33-year-old hurlers mysteriously finds the Astros favored at BetOnline with a -124 price, a 9½-run total showing signs of rising to 10 by the 8:05 PM (ET) first pitch.


Rangers Unbeaten When Hamels Hurls Against Astros

Morton has only had one rough outing since he came off the DL in early July, Houston going 4-2 in his six starts during that span and the right-hander posting a respectable 3.34 ERA. He didn’t factor into the decision last Saturday in Houston despite a quality effort against Toronto, the Blue Jays eventually pulling off a 4-3 victory in 10 innings. He was outstanding against the Rangers at home in a May start, working six innings of 1-run baseball, the first time Morton faced Texas since his 2008 rookie campaign.

Hamels went the distance last Saturday in Minnesota, surrendering just one unearned run and allowing four hits in a 4-1 win that came with the Rangers as modest -123 favorites on the MLB odds. It was the fifth win for Texas in the southpaw’s last seven assignments, Hamels sporting a sub-3.00 ERA in that stretch. This is his first go at the Astros in 2017, and the Rangers have won all four of his starts vs. Houston since he came to Texas while the Californian pitched to a 2.19 ERA.


Rivalry Trends, Mother Nature & A Free Pick

Houston has taken seven of the 10 meetings this season, but the Rangers still hold a tremendous advantage over the course of the rivalry at 98-60 (.620). The Astros have always struggled in Arlington, though they did pull off a broom job in early June when they outscored Texas 20-8 in the 3-game set. Totals split three ways in that series, one of the games pushing an 8-run mark, after running 6-4 O/U a season ago.

Cloud cover will help keep the thermometer in the mid-90s today up in the DFW area, but the heat index will still be in triple digits for the start of the game with very little breeze to comfort the players or fans. I see no reason for Houston to be chalked in this one, and will gladly make my free baseball pick on the home team.

Free MLB Pick: Rangers +114Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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