MLB Picks: Astros & Cy Young Winner Keuchel Will Crack Under Pressure vs. Twins

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 2, 2016 7:11 PM GMT

The reining American League Cy Young Award Winner Dallas Keuchel is not off to a good start in 2016, and his Astros could be worth fading at a big price on the MLB odds with the Twins on Monday.

The reigning American League Cy Young winner is not off to a good start this year and he seems vulnerable at a big price Monday night when young right-hander Jose Berrios and the Minnesota Twins (7-18, 1-10 away) pay a visit to the southpaw Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros (8-17, 4-6 home) at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX at 8:10 ET in a game available on ROOT.

The posted money line at Heritage Sports has Minnesota as a big underdog for this contest at current MLB odds of +171.

 

Disappointing Astros
The Astros were the favorites to win the American League West before the season and a chic pick to win the World Series among some experts, but instead they are in last place in the division with the second worst record in the American League at 8-17, as they return home following a 2-4 road trip where they lost two out of three games both at Seattle and at Oakland, salvaging the final game of the series in both cases.

Meanwhile, it is the Twins that own the worst record in the American League after being the losing MLB pick in the last four games in a row including getting swept three games at home by the Detroit Tigers over this past weekend, but the reality is that at 7-18, they are only one game worse than the Astros right now. Minnesota now gets a look at its future in Berrios sooner than expected after Kyle Gibson was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain.

 

Two Straight Rough Starts
Keuchel came virtually out of nowhere to win the Cy Young Award last year, but it was certainly deserved as he finished 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 216 strikeouts vs. only 51 walks in 232 innings. He has been unable to present an encore this season so far though and he has been especially bad in his last two starts, first allowing six earned runs and a distressing 13 hits in six innings vs. the Texas Rangers and then five earned runs in six innings at Seattle.

This leaves “The Beard” at 2-3 with a 4.41 ERA and 1.41 WHIP overall, and even is ratio is not as strong with 27 strikeouts vs. 13 walks in 32.2 innings. Remember that Keuchel had a career high 8.38 strikeouts per nine innings and while simultaneously posting a career low 1.98 walks per nine last season, and he also benefited from allowing an abnormally low .269 BABIP, so perhaps some regression this season was inevitable.

Now he is dealing with a Minnesota offense that should be better than it has looked this far, and that in fact is starting to come around a bit with a nice .271 batting average over the last five games. The Twins did pound out 11 hits in defeat in a 6-5 loss to the Tigers in their series finale yesterday.

 

Tough Debut but Bright Future
Berrios was called up to replace the disabled Gibson in the rotation and he had a rough Major League debut in the cold at Cleveland last Wednesday allowing five earned runs on six hits plus two walks in four innings, as allowing every leadoff batter in all four frames to reach base proved to be his undoing. The good news was that the native of Puerto Rico also had five strikeouts while hitting 97 MPH with his fastball in bad weather conditions.

Thus we will grant him a mulligan and expect a better outing in the heat of Houston from the top prospect in the entire Minnesota organization, as the now 21-year-old Berrios posted a 2.87 ERA and the Double-A and Triple-A levels combined last year with 175 strikeouts vs. just 38 walks in 166.1 innings, and he began this season with a 1.59 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 17 innings at Triple-A Rochester at the time of his call-up.

As bad as his first start in the big leagues was, Berrios should benefit from that experience and he now gets to face a Houston lineup that is 27th in the majors with a .229 batting average.

 

Houston Cannot Get Streak Started
Finally, the Astros have been unable to generate any sort of a winning streak as they are 0-7 in their last seven games following a win. The Astros are also 3-9 in their last 12 overall and 2-7 in their last nine games vs. teams with a winning percentage below .400, while the Twins are 4-0 in their last four games vs. the American League West and 5-1 in their last six road games vs. teams with losing home records.

The price certainly seems right here for those trends to continue, so we recommend going for the value and backing Minnesota at a large underdog price visiting Houston on Monday.

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Free MLB Pick: Twins +170
Best Line Offered: at Bovada
MLB Record: 12-15-1, -1.67