MLB Picks: Keuchel To Continue Improvement For Astros vs. Rangers

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 12:53 PM GMT

In a matchup of two aces that are not pitching like it, Dallas Keuchel is showing signs of turning things around, making the Astros the MLB pick vs. Cole Hamels and the Rangers.

 

In a matchup of disappointing southpaw aces Tuesday night, at least the road starter is showing positive signs of turning things around as reigning Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and those Houston Astros (28-31, 11-17 away) pay a visit to fellow left-hander Cole Hamels and the Texas Rangers (35-22, 22-9 home) in the second game of a four-game series from Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX at 8:05 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Southwest.

The posted money line at Bovada has Houston as a tiny underdog for this contest at current MLB Odds of -105.

 

Rangers Getting Some Separation in AL West
The Rangers continued their uncanny dominance of their Texas rivals from Houston last night by prevailing 6-5 as moderate home underdogs to improve to a perfect 7-0 vs. the Astros this season and to 10-0 in the last 10 meetings here in Arlington going back to last year! The win last night combined with a home loss by the Mariners allowed Texas to open up a four-game lead over second place Seattle in the American League West.

The Astros were the favorites to win the division before the year and a chic pick by some to win the World Series, but they got off to a poor start that instead had them in last place for most of the early season and they remain three games under .500 after Monday’s defeat. However, they appear to have turned things around as they were the winning MLB Picks in eight of their previous nine games before Monday and they are up to third, albeit eight games behind Texas.


 

Keuchel on Comeback Trail
Houston may have the right pitcher on the mound tonight to end the Texas dominance of this series in the reigning Cy Young Award winner Keuchel, even though he has been as disappointing as his team going 3-7 with a 5.50 ERA and 1.45 WHIP overall. However, also like his team, Keuchel seems to have righted the ship entering this contest off of back-to-back Quality Starts.

But we feel the best sign of all for Keuchel is the return of his command in his recent starts. You see, Keuchel averaged 8.38 strikeouts vs. 1.98 walks per nine innings during his Cy Young season of a year ago, but the strikeout rate is down to 7.65 this year while the walk rate is up to 3.23, which would represent a career high and is a key reason for the inflated ERA and WHIP.

However, Keuchel has 17 strikeouts vs. just two walks in 19 innings over his last three starts, and after allowing five runs on only nine hits with 11 strikeouts vs. one walk in 13 innings over those last two Quality Starts, we feel Keuchel is ready to return to last year’s form.

 

Hamels Struggling More that ERA Suggests
Now, a quick glance at Hamels’ 5-1 record and 3.39 ERA would have you questioning our assessment that he has also been disappointing, but not only is that the case but, unlike Keuchel, Hamels is not really showing recent upside. And if you do not want to take our word for it, simply take a peek at his poor 4.88 FIP and modest 0.3 WAR.

Like Keuchel, Hamels is walking more batters than he ever has this season at 3.39 per nine innings, and unlike Keuchel he is not showing any improvement in that regard with seven walks in 19.2 innings over his last three starts, including three walks in seven innings vs. the Cleveland Indians last Wednesday. Aside from the walk issues, Hamels has an insane and unsustainable 83.8 percent strand rate, making his ERA that much more fraudulent.

As if that is not enough, even Hamels’ mainstream stats at Arlington have not been good as he has a 4.72 ERA and 1.57 WHIP at home despite a 2-1 record.

 

Some Strong Houston Trends Too
Finally, while the Rangers have dominated the head-to-head series, the Astros are 7-0 in their last seven games after allowing five runs or more in their previous game, 10-4 in their last 14 games following a loss and 24-8 in Keuchel’s last 32 starts following a team loss the prior game.

Given the direction in which these staff aces are going, we will put more emphasis on those latter trends and back Houston to snap its losing streak in Arlington vs. Texas on Tuesday.

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MLB Pick: Astros -105
Best Line Offered: at YouWager
MLB Record: 35-31-1, +7.40