Baseball nerds rejoice! The MLB All-Star break ends Thursday night, but there is only one game in town for bettors to sink their teeth into as the Astros and Rangers get a head-start on the rest of the league, by opening a four-game set in Arlington. From the first inning to the last, we break down the best ways to wager this American League West showdown.
HOUSTON ASTROS AT TEXAS RANGERS (+125, 11 @ BETAMERICA)
Game 1 sees the Rangers Lance Lynn toeing the rubber against Framber Valdez. Lynn is having a nice little bounce-back season with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. However, he takes a little time to settle in. Lynn has a 5.00 ERA and his worst strikeout-to-walk ratio in the first inning. That can spell trouble against a lineup as deep as the Astros.
Meanwhile, Valdez will be making just his fifth start of the season for Houston and has been roughed up in his last two, allowing 11 earned runs on 12 hits in just 6.1 innings of work. He’ll be facing a Rangers team that ranks second in the Bigs in average first innings. Expect at least one team to plate a run in the opening frame.
PICK: Run in 1st Inning – Yes (-205)
FIRST FIVE INNINGS
Lynn has made one start against the Astros this season, with the Rangers dropping a 3-0 decision, but the veteran right-hander pitched well. Lynn allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings pitched and basically made just three bad pitches, allowing three solo dingers. Lynn was also hot heading into the break, pitching to a 2.86 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP over his last three starts. Even if the Rangers can get to Valdez for a few runs, Lynn should be able to contain the Astros just enough in the early going to keep this one Under the first five inning total.
PICK: First Five Inning Total – Under 6.5
While Valdez has struggled recently, the Rangers don’t handle left-handers overly well, managing just a .228 average against southpaws this season. On top of that, Texas stumbled into the break dropping six of their last eight games and are hitting just .218 as a team over their past 10 games, which includes .193 against lefties. It hard to see the Rangers exceeding their team total in this one.
PICK: Rangers Team Total – Under 5
FULL GAME TOTAL
So, with the Rangers struggling against lefties and Lynn dealing right now, it’s no surprise we’re leaning towards the Under. But another reason we like it is that the Astros really didn’t get much of an All-Star break. It seems like half of Houston’s roster was in Cleveland over the weekend and then they immediately go on the road. It might take them a game or two to get their hitting shoes back on.
PICK: Under 11
FULL GAME SIDE
The Rangers actually took four of the first six meetings in this matchup this season, but Houston has responded by taking the last four, outscoring Texas 33-11 in the process. But the real problem for the Rangers is that Lynn can only go for so long in this matchup, and the Astros have a big edge in the bullpen. Even if the Rangers are able to get out to an early lead, the Astros will be able to chip away at a Texas bullpen that ranks 21st in ERA and 25th in opponent batting average. Expect the Astros to do just that and secure the victory.
PICK: Astros -135
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