MLB Picks: Astros vs. Angels Moneyline & Total

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, July 3, 2014 11:16 AM GMT

The Astros try to put a three-game lopsided home sweep against Seattle behind them as they begin a seven-game road trip on Thursday with the first of four in Anaheim. The Angels, who start a seven-game homestand, opened as -161 favorites on MLB odds.

Interesting Week For Astros
Interesting is a bit of an understatement. On Monday, news was leaked that Houston's "Ground Control" secret in-house computer database had been hacked, and leaked all over the media. Every team has this, but it was embarrassing for how ridiculous some of Houston's trade demands were for the likes of Bud Norris. For example, the Astros wanted a package involving Xander Bogaerts from Boston for the middling Norris or one built around touted young pitchers Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from Baltimore (where Norris landed, but those guys weren't involved). The Astros also threw out a very underwhelming offer to Miami for Giancarlo Stanton. I guess the Houston front office has to try these things, but it was like one of those irritating fantasy league owners continually offering you his junk for your best players.

Roster-wise, the team also continued its youth movement by calling up another touted member of arguably the majors' best farm system in Domingo Santana. The outfielder was hitting .304 with 13 homers at Triple-A and has started his big-league career 0-for-7. Santana was acquired in what looks like a major heist along with Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid in 2011 from Philadelphia for Hunter Pence. All four are now on the big-league roster. Singleton also is a top prospect but is struggling thus far at .184 with four homers in 28 games. Cosart is a solid part of the rotation at 8-6 with a 3.93 ERA. He won't pitch in this series. Zeid (5.63 ERA) is a reliever who hasn't done much yet.

Houston did put one of its few known veteran players on the disabled list this week in outfielder Dexter Fowler. He has a back strain and the move is retroactive to June 27. The Astros would like to see him get back healthy and hot at the plate as he could have some trade value to contenders as a leadoff man and good center fielder. Fowler is hitting .270 with six home runs, 24 RBIs and six steals.


Probable Pitchers
Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer- (2-6, 4.40) gets the call for Houston. He opened the season in the Houston rotation but it didn't go too well as the Astros lost seven of his nine starts. Oberholtzer was sent down to Triple-A at the end of May but had to be called back up last week when Astros ace Dallas Keuchel had to be scratched from his start Saturday with left wrist inflammation. Oberholtzer wasn't exactly tearing up Triple-A, going 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA. However, he was pretty good Saturday at home against the Tigers, allowing a run and five hits over 6.1 innings in a no-decision. Keuchel is going to pitch Friday, but the team thought Oberholtzer deserved another shot.

Oberholtzer hasn't faced the Halos in 2014 but did twice last season, going 1-1 with a 5.20 ERA in 12 innings. He won the start at Angel Stadium, allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings. Josh Hamilton is 2-for-3 career off Oberholtzer with a home run. Chris Iannetta should get the start behind the plate as he's 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs against the lefty. Mike Trout is 2-for-4 with a double and two walks. Albert Pujols has never faced Oberholtzer.

Right-hander Matt Shoemaker starts for Los Angeles. The rookie (he made one start in 2013) had been pitching pretty well, but the Royals slapped him around in his last start as Shoemaker allowed career highs in hits (11) and earned runs (eight) in just 4.0 innings. Omar Infante hit a grand slam off him. Shoemaker has faced Houston twice, both in relief. He has a 10.80 ERA over 3.1 innings and has allowed three home runs. Chris Carter, Singleton and Jonathan Villar (now in Triple-A) did the damage. 


Season Series
The Angels lead 6-4 and are 2-1 at home. L.A. won't mind that Fowler is on the DL as he was 9-for-21 with five walks and five runs scored this year against the Halos. Houston catcher Jason Castro is batting .306 with a home run and six knocked in against L.A. Hamilton leads Angels hitters against Houston, going 10-for-25 with three home runs and seven RBIs. Howie Kendrick is hitting .341 with eight knocked in. Trout is at .300 with a homer and six RBIs.


MLB free picks: Bet on the Angels -161 on MLB odds and the 'over' 8.5 runs at -110 for your next MLB pick. Houston is 1-9 in Oberholtzer's past 10 starts against teams with a winning record; Los Angeles is  6-1 in its past seven at home against a left-hander. The 'over' has hit in six of Shoemaker's past seven starts. The 'over' is 4-0 in the Angels' past four series openers.

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