Those upstart Astros stole Game 1 of this ALDS with Kansas City Thursday, cashing in as underdogs on the MLB odds. This handicapper is hoping Houston pulls a repeat for Game 2 Friday afternoon.
Astros-Royals ALDS Game 2 Odds
As of this writing the MLB odds market had not yet lined this game, as oddsmakers tried to size up a match-up of two starting pitchers, Kansas City's Johnny Cueto and Houston's Scott Kazmir, who both struggled after being traded to contenders back around the deadline.
Houston took Game 1 of this series Thursday evening 5-2, taking an early lead with two runs in the top of the first and one more in the second, getting a quality six innings from starter Collin McHugh and three scoreless frames from the bullpen. The Astros also, to our delight, cashed in as +120 post-time underdogs on the MLB playoff betting line.
Houston is now 5-2 against KC this season, while the UNDERS are 5-1-1, as this season series has skewed low-scoring.
Game 2 Mound Match-Ups
Cueto (11-13, 3.44), by our tough accounting, is 17-for-32 on quality starts this season, and while he struggled badly a while back, he's been better lately. Last Sunday he held Minnesota to one run through five innings, and over his last four outings he's held foes to nine runs through 25 innings.
Kansas City is only 4-9 in Cueto's starts, after he came over in that trade with the Reds, with the OVERS going 9-4.
This will be Cueto's first start against Houston since 2013, when he was with Cincinnati.
Kazmir (7-11, 3.10) is 15-for-31 on quality starts, but 0 for his last three and only five-for-13 since coming over to the Astros in that trade with Oakland back in July. Nine days ago he gave up six runs – four earned – and a couple of homers in 4 1/3 innings against Seattle, and over his last three starts he's been tagged for 13 ER through just 11 2/3 innings.
Houston is only 5-8 in Kazmir's starts, with the UNDERS going 7-4-2.
In three starts this season against KC, the first two back when he was still an A, Kazmir has allowed just five runs through 21 1/3 innings; Oakland lost those two games by scores of 3-0 and 4-2, while the Astros won 4-0.
Game 2 Batting Splits
Houston ranked 18th this season against right-handed pitching with a .312 team on-base percentage, but fourth with a .439 team slugging percentage. Yesterday the Astros rapped out 11 hits, including two homers, and scored five runs against Kansas City right-handers.
The Royals, on the other hand, ranked 11th against left-handed pitching with a .323 team OBP and 15th with a .406 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Kauffman Stadium this season leaned toward the UNDERS by a 38-36 margin, as they averaged 8.5 runs per.
As we mentioned in yesterday's Game 1 preview Kansas City recently lost closer Greg Holland for the season to a torn elbow. In his place Wade Davis has converted four saves chances in a row, allowing just one ER over his last 19 2/3 innings of work.
ALDS Game 2 Picks
We hit the daily double with our free MLB picks on yesterday's Game 1, as the team that played more recently pulled the upset, and the bullpens kept the total UNDER. As for Game 2, Kazmir has been tough against KC this season, and Houston seems to have Big Mo on its side at the moment. Also, we could see this game getting to 5-4, or something like that, so we're thinking OVER.
Picks: Astros +131 & OVER at The Greek