MLB Expert Picks: The Houston Astros Starts Three-Game Series with the Baltimore Orioles
Houston is a full 15.5 games ahead of Seattle in the American League West, so they can be forgiven for playing .500 ball since the All-Star break ended. This team is not only head and shoulders ahead in their division, they are also ten games up on the Red Sox for the best record in the American League.
Over the course of a 162-game season with the dog days of summer upon us, it’s not surprising that they are just trying to get through this stretch of their schedule.
The Astros just completed a six-game homestand where they took two of three from Minnesota before dropping two of three versus the Mariners. The usually stout pitching staff allowed 15 runs in the three games.
On Wednesday, they dropped a 4-1 decision as James Paxton had his third outstanding start of the season against Houston. The Astros have had the best offense in the AL for most of the season, so for Paxton to own these hitters says something for the kind of pitcher he is. He’s allowed just one run in three starts against Houston.
Baltimore is one of those teams that really needed a jolt coming out of the break but instead they fell victim to a Cubs team that is finding their groove. They were swept at home last weekend, getting outscored 27-11 in the process. So it is a huge credit to the resiliency of the team that after a hard-fought 3-1 win in the opener of their most recent series with Texas that the offense really found its rhythm. They ended up sweeping the Rangers in the four-game series outscoring them 34-11 in the process. It was very much reminiscent of the hot start they had over the first six weeks of the season.
The sweep brought their record back up to 46-49 and just three games off the pace for the second wild card spot in the AL.
Houston is first in scoring in July averaging 7.79 RPG and eighth with a 4.03 ERA.
Baltimore is fifth this month averaging 5 RPG and 13th with a 5.33 ERA.
Mike Fiers (6-4, 3.75 ERA) gets the start for Houston and he’s been great in eight of his last nine starts. He’s allowed two runs or less in seven of them and three runs in the other one. Fiers has a 2.65 ERA in three July starts and Houston has won two of three including a 5-3 win over the Twins last time out.
Ubaldo Jimenez (4-5, 7.01 ERA) has struggled most of the year and has been even worse of late. He has a 9.88 ERA in three July starts pitching just 13.2 innings. The Orioles pitching staff has struggled mightily the last two months and he’s one of the big reasons why. He allowed six runs in 3.2 innings of an 8-0 loss to the White Sox last time out.
Cash It In: The Astros are -140 favorites and Baltimore are +120 underdogs. The best offense in the majors is taking on one of the worst starters. What’s not to like about that? Astros 9-3.
MLB Expert Picks: Houston Astros -140