Even though the Houston Astros are probably going to be terrible this season, they demonstrated Sunday night they can still be dangerous to those who fade them, and on occasion profitable to those with the courage to back them with their sports picks.
After an off-day Monday the Astros and Rangers continue their season-opening series at Minute Maid Park Tuesday night (8:05 pm ET).
Astros-Rangers Betting Lines
Most online sportsbooks we sampled opened Tuesday's game with Texas favored by around -165, then quickly bumped that line to as much as -185.
The total on Tuesday's game sits at eight.
Astros-Rangers: The Situation
Houston is almost certainly going to finish in last place in the American League West this season. Some MLB odds shops are offering lines of 100/1 on the Astros winning the West this year; most books have pegged Houston with a regular-season wins OVER/UNDER of 59.
But the Astros got this season and their existence as a member of the American League off to a good start with an 8-2 victory over Texas Sunday night, cashing in at a price of +150 on the MLB betting odds. Houston got 5 2/3 good innings from starter Bud Norris, 3 1/3 innings of shut-out relief from Erik Bedard and a three-run homer from newcomer Rick Ankiel.
Over the winter Texas parted ways with, among others, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Napoli and a couple of guys from the bullpen. They added Lance Berkman and AJ Pierzynski, but those two are unlikely to make up for the loss of the others. The Rangers averaged five runs per game last year; we doubt they'll match that this season.
Texas has made the playoffs the last three seasons. For this season the Rangers are getting about 3/1 to win the American League West and have been tagged with a wins O/U of 86.
Yu Darvish had a pretty good debut season for Texas last year, going 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA, finished well, allowing a total of 17 earned runs over his last nine starts, and he was tough this spring in the Cactus League, allowing just three runs in 13 2/3 innings.
Darvish started once last year vs. Houston and got a win, holding the Astros to two runs on seven hits, striking out 11, in eight innings of a 6-2 Texas victory in Arlington.
On the other side of Tuesday's pitching match-up, the Astros' Lucas Harrell managed to go .500 last year, 11-11, with a 3.76 ERA for a team that lost 107 games. And he had a pretty good spring, allowing just six ER in 24 innings of work.
Harrell started twice against Texas last year, going 1-1. In the first game he allowed just one ER on five hits through 5 2/3 innings, but in the second game the Rangers nicked him for five ER and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Last year Texas took five of six games from their Lone Star state rivals, outscoring Houston 38-15.
Free MLB Pick for Tuesday
The Astros beat the Rangers Sunday night, but we expect a reversal of that outcome Tuesday, with Darvish going for Texas against a team that might lose 100 games again this season.
We're not big fans of giving such a high price, but this might be a decent spot to gamble a little. So we'll take the Rangers giving the run and a half on the run line at a price of -107 at Bovada for our free MLB pick for Tuesday.
Free MLB Picks: Rangers runline -107 at Bovada