Orioles vs Astros Odds, Picks, & Predictions: Fading Means' Strikeout Stuff

John Means' return from injury last week didn't go as planned and his swing-and-miss stuff fared even worse with just one strikeout. As such, we're fading the left-hander when he goes up against the World Series champs tonight.

Last Updated: Sep 18, 2023 12:37 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
John Means Baltimore Orioles MLB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The first matchup of this three-game series gets underway Monday evening with the Houston Astros hosting the Baltimore Orioles.

These first-place clubs each hold narrow division leads, which makes this an ever-important series for each team. Will Houston defend its home diamond or can Baltimore pull off the road upset?

We break it all down in our free MLB picks for Orioles vs. Astros below.

Orioles vs Astros odds

Orioles vs Astros predictions

Left-hander John Means takes the mound for the Baltimore Orioles and should be a good fade candidate in this contest. It's been a lengthy journey for Means, who finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting as a 26-year-old and was the Opening Day starter in 2021.

However, injuries derailed his career shortly after, and he missed 517 days with multiple elbow and back injuries before returning to the rubber against the Cardinals last week. The return did not go as wanted for Means, who surrendered three runs on five hits through five innings pitched while only recording one strikeout.

His 18.2% whiff rate in that outing is also cause for concern, at least in the strikeout department. That's the avenue in which we’re going to fade Means in this contest.

Currently, you can find his strikeout prop at 3.5 at BetRivers, a total he's failed to surpass in four of his past five starts (dating back to before his injuries). These strikeout woes are likely to continue against the powerhouse Houston Astros.

Boasting a monster lineup, Houston ranks inside the Top 6 in runs scored per game, hits per game, BA, SLG, and OPS. This lineup is also elite at avoiding strikeouts, ranking second in K% when facing left-handed pitching.

It’s a lot to ask for Means to come back from this laundry list of injuries, let alone perform at a high level against this strong of a lineup that also excels at avoiding strikeouts.

My best bet: John Means Under 3.5 strikeouts (-108)

Orioles vs Astros same-game parlay

John Means Under 3.5 strikeouts (-111)

Over 8.5 (-120)

Astros ML (-184)

While Means will have his hands full in this contest, right-hander Justin Verlander will also have to be sharp against this strong Baltimore lineup. Currently, the Orioles are Top 9 in runs scored per game, hits per game, BA, SLG, and OPS.

Verlander has also had some shaky performances recently, allowing five or more earned runs to the A's and Yankees in the month of September alone. With that said, Verlander is still stronger than Means, and Houston’s lineup paces Baltimore’s in every category across the board, making it a deservedly heavy favorite in this matchup.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Orioles vs Astros moneyline and Over/Under analysis

The Astros opened as a -164 favorite and have since been bet up to their current price of -184. This line movement makes sense considering that Houston boasts the better starting pitcher, lineup, and home-field advantage.

That brings us to the total, which opened at 8.5 and remains at that number. There will likely be some push-and-pull in this market given the two strong lineups, Verlander’s inconsistency this month, and Means’ limited sample size since returning from injury.

There have now been 9+ total runs scored in 13 of Baltimore’s past 19 games.

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Trend to know

Means has recorded three or fewer strikeouts in four of his past five starts. Find more MLB betting trends for Orioles vs. Astros

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Orioles vs Astros game info

Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Date: Monday, September 18, 2023
First pitch: 8:10 p.m. ET

Starting pitchers

John Means (0-1, 5.40 ERA): Means’ long-anticipated return to the mound did not go as planned as he surrendered three runs on five hits through five innings against the Cardinals last week. He also only recorded one strikeout and produced a mere 18.2 whiff rate. Perhaps the left-hander can turn things around as his workload increases, but he'll certainly have his hands full against this strong Houston lineup.

Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.39 ERA): It's been yet another successful year for the future Hall of Famer, who is once again trying to lead the Astros to the World Series. His underlying metrics are also strong as Verlander ranks in the 61st percentile or higher in xERA, xBA, and chase rate. This success could continue against Baltimore, a team that Verlander owns a lifetime 10-6 record against with a 3.62 ERA.

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