On Friday, March 30, the Houston Astros will travel to Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, to take on the Texas Rangers for the second game in the four game series. Friday’s game will start at 8:05 PM ET.
The line has been set at -186 for the Houston Astros and +175 for the Texas Rangers. The over/under for runs has been set at 9.5.
On opening day, the Astros won 4-1 on the heels of a dominant performance by Astros ace, Justin Verlander (6 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K). Offensively, the Astros jumped on the board on the third pitch of the game when George Springer unloaded a homerun into the right field bleachers (of note, he homered in the first at bat on the third pitch in the first game of the season last year, too). Jake Marisnick also homered for the Astros, who also got RBI’s from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.
For the Rangers, Cole Hamels took the loss throwing 5.2 innings, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits with 4 BB while also striking out 7. Elvis Andrus scored their lone run on a wild pitch by Astros’ reliever Ken Giles in the ninth inning.
Astros Send Out Another Ace
The Houston Astros will start 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel. Despite battling injuries, Keuchel still pitched to a 14-5 record, 2.90 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, and 125:47 K to BB ratio last year. During spring training, Keuchel pitched well to a 2-0 record with a 2.35 ERA, 1.174 WHIP and 15:3 K to BB ratio. Obviously, he was disappointed not to be named the Opening Day starter, but he seemed to take it in stride knowing whom it was who was taking the spot in Verlander.
With that in mind, Keuchel has been really good in opening starts. Last year, on Opening Day, he threw 7 shutout innings only allowing 2 hits, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. I expect more of the same against the Rangers on Friday. The Rangers feature four left-handed hitters from their Opening Day starting lineup (Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Shin-Soo Choo, and Rougned Odor). Of those four, only Shin-Soo Choo posted a respectable average against lefties last year (.287). The next highest is Nomar Mazara (.228).
Against Keuchel specifically, the Rangers as a team aren’t too much better. Today’s starters (plus Jurickson Profar) have hit for a combined .227/.281/.331 slash line against Keuchel. Additionally, they have only hit a combined four homeruns in 299 total at bats. In those 299 at bats, they also have struck out 23% of the time (69 times). Nomar Mazara is 6 for 20 against Dallas Keuchel, while Adrian Beltre is 17 for 60 and Ryan Rua is 7 for 20.
Familiar Foe Set to Pitch Against Astros
Doug Fister pitched for the Houston Astros in 2016 and is now set to take the mound against them on Friday. Last year, with the Boston Red Sox, Doug Fister was 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 90.1 IP. He also had a FIP of 3.98, a WHIP of 1.384, 83:38 K to BB ratio, and gave up 9 home runs.
Against Doug Fister, albeit in a small sample size of 53 at bats, today’s Houston Astros lineup (plus Derek Fisher) have hit for a .302/.339/.396 slash line with one homerun and 9 strikeouts (17% of the time). Josh Reddick is 5 for 17 against Doug Fister, while Alex Bregman is 3 for 3 and Jose Altuve is 3 for 7.
Astros Win Again
With a former Cy Young winner on the mound, I think the Houston Astros build on their success from Opening Day and win this one against the Texas Rangers pretty handedly. I would take the Astros at the -186 as I think their bats could knock out Doug Fister pretty early. Additionally, I think Dallas Keuchel continues his success in his first starts of the year.
In terms of the over/under, I am taking the under in this game. I think that the Rangers might scrap together a run or two, but I don’t think the Astros offense will be so dominant to essentially single-handedly cover the over. Take the Houston Astros -186 and the UNDER 9.5 runs.
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