The A's head into Oakland for a four-game weekend series with the struggling A's beginning Thursday night. Can the Astros hang on? And more importantly to our cause, are they worth a bet tonight?
Astros-A's Thursday Odds
As of mid-Thursday morning the best price we could find on Houston with Scott Feldman was the -113 offered at Pinnacle, while Oakland and Aaron (I'm a Baseballer) Brooks were getting +108 at Heritage. And every book on our MLB odds board listed a total on tonight's game of 7.5 runs.
Houston just got swept three games at Texas this week, losing Wednesday 4-3. Still, the Astros have won four of their last six series, and 11 of their last 18 games.
At 60-49 Houston leads the AL West by two games over the second-place Angels, while trailing Kansas City by 4.5 games in the battle for the best record in the American League.
Oakland, meanwhile, just dropped two of three games at home to Baltimore, losing Wednesday 7-3 in 10 innings. So the A's are 0-3-2 over their last five series, 4-9 over their last 13 games.
At 48-61 Oakland owns the worst record in the American League, while continuing to “play out the string” on this season, as they say.
The Astros lead this season series six games to three, with the totals going 4-5.
Thursday's Mound Match-Up
Brooks (1-0, 3.09), a 25-year-old righty, will be making his second start of this season for his new team, and the third of his ML career. Last Saturday he held Cleveland to one run and five hits through 7 1/3 innings, walking none while whiffing five in a 5-1 Oakland victory. Earlier this season, in two relief appearances with Kansas City, Brooks gave up three runs through 4 1/3 innings. So through 11 2/3 innings of ML ball this season Brooks has allowed four runs and 11 hits, walked none and struck out eight.
This will be Brooks' first-ever appearance vs. Houston; perhaps he can use that to his advantage.
Brooks, a ninth-round draft choice of the Royals back in 2011, is 42-32 as a Minor Leaguer, with a 4.21 ERA. This year at Triple-A Omaha he went 6-5/3.71, with a 92/21 strikeouts/walks ratio through 107 innings, which ain't bad.
Feldman (4-5, 4.58) is six-for-13 on quality starts this year, one-for-three since returning to the Houston rotation after a stint on the DL (knee). Last Friday he gave up three runs through 5 1/3 innings against Arizona, and over his last three starts he's allowed eight runs through 18 2/3 innings. On the season Feldman has allowed 88 hits in 79 innings, walked 17 and struck out 44.
The Astros are 5-8 in Feldman's starts, with the totals going 6-7.
Since the beginning of last season Feldman is three-for-six on quality starts against the A's, giving up 22 earned runs and 43 hits through 39 1/3 innings; Houston won just one of those games, while five of those games played OVER.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Houston ranks 22nd in the Bigs against right-handed pitching this season with a .247 team batting average, and 19th with a .310 team on-base percentage.
Oakland ranks 16th against righties with a .253 average and 21st with a .310 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Coliseum this season are 28-26 on the OVERS, even though they're only averaging 7.7 runs per. Obviously, bookmakers have been posting some low totals on A's home games.
Astros-A's Thursday Free Picks
Feldman hasn't exactly impressed us, so we'll call the pitching match-up a wash. And both teams rank about the same in today's batting splits. But Houston owns a big edge in the bullpen comparison, so we like the Astros as our MLB pick . Also, we're thinking the total of 7.5 runs allows just enough room for an UNDER.
MLB Picks: Houston and UNDER 7.5 runs (-105) at 5Dimes