Thursday’s MLB schedule includes the rubber match between the Houston Astros and Diamondbacks, who have split the first two games of their three-game series. The visiting Astros are favorites with a moneyline of -140 compared to Arizona’s moneyline of +125.
The Astros have had a somewhat disappointing start to the season. They sit at 6-5, falling 1.5 games behind Oakland in the AL West.
While it’s still early, the Astros aren’t accustomed to looking up at other teams. With a series against the A’s on tap for this weekend, the Astros would love to head to Oakland on a winning note.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks sit at the bottom of the NL West standings at 4-8. Wednesday’s 14-7 win over the Astros helped Arizona snap a three-game losing streak, a long skid in a 60-game season. Arizona’s schedule doesn’t get much easier moving forward, so the D’Backs need to build off the momentum after Wednesday’s win.
Young righty Zac Gallen will get the start for the Diamondbacks on Thursday. After posting a 2.81 ERA in 15 starts as a rookie last season, Gallen has picked up where he left off. Over his first two starts, Gallen owns a 2.70 ERA despite not earning a win in either outing.
Last time out, Gallen struck out nine over six innings when facing the Dodgers, so he should be ready to face Houston’s deep lineup for the first time in his career.
Of course, the Astros aren’t firing on all cylinders just yet. Despite scoring seven runs on Wednesday, Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley continue to be the team’s standout performers with both hitting .400 or better. On the other hand, George Springer and Jose Altuve are hitting under .200, meaning Houston’s table setters are having trouble getting on base for the club’s heavy hitters.
Who’s This Guy
Rookie Brandon Bielak will start for Houston on Thursday. The lefty will make his first major league start after making two relief appearances this season. Bielak has covered 5.1 innings over those two appearances and has pitched primarily as a starter in the minors.
However, he’s probably not stretched out enough to pitch more than four or five innings, so the Astros will have to lean on their bullpen. Fortunately for the Astros, their bullpen has been reliable this year despite getting hit hard on Wednesday and losing closer Roberto Osuna to injury.
Predictably, Arizona’s lineup has been up and down this year. The trio of Ketel Marte, Starling Marte, and Christian Walker continues to lead the way. But Eduardo Escobar, Kole Calhoun, and David Peralta continue to underperform.
The good news is that all nine starters had at least one hit on Wednesday. On the other hand, the D’Backs still have just six home runs in their 12 games.
Let It Ride
Bielak is a mystery despite two solid relief outings, giving the Diamondbacks an age in starting pitching. With Arizona being the underdog with the better starting pitcher, there is good value in the Diamondbacks.
After Arizona’s lineup unloaded for 14 runs last night, it’s worth taking a chance to continue at +125. Bet on the Diamondbacks to win on Thursday.
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