Rangers the MLB Pick to end Astros Win Streak at Big Price

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 4, 2015 5:14 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Monday.

 

 



It may possibly be Midnight for one of baseball’s best early Cinderella stories Monday night when Ross Detwiler and the Texas Rangers (8-16, 5-7 away) pay a visit to fellow southpaw Dallas Keuchel and those red-hot Houston Astros (18-7, 8-5 home) in the first game of a three-game series from Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX at 8:10 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Southwest.

The posted money line at Bet365 has Texas as a huge underdog for this contest at current odds of +175.


Best Record in American League
The Houston Astros have won 10 straight games and currently have the best record in the American League at 18-7, with only their former division mates the 18-6 St. Louis Cardinals of the National League having a better record in the majors. Let that sink in for a while as we are talking about a Houston team that had the worst record in the majors each year from 2011 through 2013 while losing at least 106 games every season.

Then the youthful Astros showed improvement last year, although they were still the second worst MLB picks in the American League at 70-92. And who had the worst record in the AL in 2014 you may ask? Well, that would be the Texas Rangers at 67-95, although to be fair Texas lost a ton of manpower games to injuries during the course of the season after being a perennial playoff team in previous years.


Keuchel Not Great vs. Texas
It was apparent that the Astros had some good young talent entering this season and they were even popular picks to go ‘over’ their posted win total of 74½, a win total that was already set 4½ games higher than their actual wins last year, suggesting that the oddsmakers were high on them. And while we readily admit that we expected improvement ourselves, nobody could have foreseen this perfect storm over the last 10 games.

The Astros are simultaneously averaging 7.66 runs per game with a .289 team batting average offensively and posting a 3.29 ERA including a 2.45 ERA by their bullpen during the 10-game win streak, and that is simply something that will not continue so expect some regression to come real soon. But in the meantime, the hot streak appears to have Houston overvalued here at this huge price.

Speaking of overachieving, Keuchel leads the Major Leagues in both ERA and WHIP at an identical 0.73 on both counts, as he is 3-0 personally with the Astros having a team record of 5-0 in all of his starts. With that being said, his command numbers have not been great with 22 strikeouts vs. 11 walks in 37 innings and he has benefitted from an abnormally low .157 BABIP and abnormally high 88.9 percent strand rate.

In other words, just like his team, Keuchel is a very good young pitcher but he is not as good as his early mainstream numbers. He has allowed just three earned runs over his five starts, and two of them came on a start vs. these Rangers where he received no decision on April 12th. He has not been particularly sharp vs. Texas over his brief career going 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA and just 42 strikeouts vs. 20 walks in 66 innings covering 10 starts against the Rangers.


Detwiler Comes Off of Best Start
Texas is currently in last place in the American League West 9½ games behind the upstart Astros but only 2½ games out of second place. It has also been a tough go for Detwiler in his first season in the American League after having some moderate success with the Washington Nationals during his career in the National League.

Detwiler is an ugly 0-3 with an 8.66 ERA and 2.21 WHIP but the good news is that he comes off his best start in a Texas uniform in an unlucky 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners where he was charged with two runs on five hits with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Another ray of hope is that Detwiler is yielding an unrealistic .364 BABIP, so while he is not a superstar by any means, he is not as bad as the ERA and WHIP, which should become apparent when the BABIP stabilizes.

He is also facing a Houston lineup batting over 40 points lower vs. left-handed pitchers (.264) than it is vs. right-handers (.305) during the 10-game winning streak.


Some Surprising Trends Favoring Rangers
Finally, for you trend-lovers out there, there are a couple of surprising ones favoring the big underdogs from Texas here. First, the Rangers are actually 13-3 in their last 16 games vs. teams with winning records, and secondly the Astros are just 2-6 in Keuchel’s last eight home starts vs. teams with losing records.

The bottom line here is that while the Astros are improved this year, they are still playing way over their heads at their current pace as we recommend a value play on Texas at a great price with some regression expected to start to surface in Houston on Monday.

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MLB Pick: Rangers +175