Another winner! It feels good when a bet goes precisely as we say it will. Cristian Javier dominated, and Max Scherzer showed his rust early. It felt good to get out there when we did, as that Josh Jung home run in the bottom of the fifth seemed to give the Rangers a jolt of energy. The Astros closed it out through five, and won the full game 8-5.
Enough of yesterday, we have work to do today. I have a game pick, a PrizePicks entry, and a few home run sprinkles to enjoy.
2023 MLB Regular Season: 154-165 (-11.66 U)
2023 MLB Playoffs: 10-9 (+2.15 U)
Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers @ 8:03 PM EST
Jose Urquidy: 5.29 ERA, 4.70 xERA, 5.28 FIP, 5.45 xFIP, 5.24 SIERA
Andrew Heaney: 4.15 ERA, 4.55 xERA, 4.66 FIP, 4.58 xFIP, 4.40 SIERA
First instinct: this is a coin flip game. However, I looked deeper into it, and there is no reason the Astros should be an underdog here.
I might as well throw those full-season numbers up there out the window. I learned that the hard way, fading Jose Urquidy in his start against the Twins. He’s clearly no Cristian Javier, but he has a long track record of being effective in the playoffs. The Astros have magic about them in October, and while Urquidy is lackluster in the regular season, his resume in the playoffs is anything but.
Urquidy has thrown 42 innings in his playoff career, a larger sample than most 28-year-old pitchers. He’s pitched to a 3.64 ERA with a 42:12 K/BB ratio. In the regular season, he threw 65 innings with a 45:25 K/BB ratio. Due to the poor season, I faded him against the Twins, and he returned to his typical playoff success. He went 5.2 innings of two-run ball on only three hits while striking out six and only walking one.
The Rangers have not faced him this season, so the unfamiliarity should help him. They might go to Hunter Brown after Urquidy gets through the lineup twice. I don’t think he dominates, but we are in a great spot if he can outperform Heaney and Dunning.
Brown has two starts against the Rangers. In his first start, he went seven innings without allowing an earned run. In his second start, he allowed three runs in four innings. JP France has a similar history this season against Texas. One seven-inning start where he didn’t allow a run, and a five-inning start allowing five earned. I prefer they go to Brown over France, but I feel relatively comfortable with both.
Heaney has made two separate three-inning appearances in his postseason career. In both of them, he allowed one run. He’s not someone the Rangers will let go longer than four innings, but this will be the fifth time the Astros have seen him this season. Credit to Heaney; his first two outings were five-inning shutouts.
In the last two outings of the year, he allowed three runs in five innings or less against Houston. His last start was his worst; that game ended in a 13-6 win for Houston in Arlington.
Dane Dunning will piggyback Heaney in this game to get the Rangers to the three horses they have in the back end in Sborz, Chapman, and Leclerc. Dunning’s first appearance went well, allowing no runs in 1.2 innings. He did make one start against the Astros in Arlington on September 5th. He allowed NINE runs in 5.1 innings. It wasn’t the best start in the world.
I’m not here to say Jose Urquidy will shut down this Rangers offense; however, I have more faith in him being effective than the combination of Andrew Heany and Dane Dunning.
In terms of offense, we know that both teams will hit; it’s all about who scores more. Jose Altuve seemed to have a breakout game last night, hitting the ball hard in every AB. Kyle Tucker also worked a couple of walks and roped a double in his previous AB. If those guys carry over this momentum, which I think they will, this Houston lineup gets scary.
Two home runs from Josh Jung yesterday made the Rangers offense look better than they’ve been. They won 2-0 against Verlander and beat up Framber, who’s been regressing down the stretch. Corey Seager is 2-13, and Marcus Semien is 2-13. The top of the lineup for Texas hasn’t been there, and other than being “due,” I didn’t see anything yesterday that makes me think they suddenly break out.
Adolis Garcia and Jonah Heim are 2-11, and Mitch Garver is 1-11. The bottom of the lineup and Evan Carter have been great, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to hang with the Astros.
If the game is tied in the seventh, the Astros have the advantage with Neris, Abreu, and Pressly. However, the Rangers have home-field advantage which is an edge for them.
The Astros have dominated in Arlington in the regular season and last night. The road team may win every game this series, as the Astros are now 53-30, including the postseason on the road. At home, they are 39-42. I would make the Astros the slight favorite at -115.
This line has moved, as I bet it as soon as it opened. This is playable up. to-105, as long as the Astros are underdogs.
The Pick: Astros ML (+108) Risk 1U
PrizePicks Entry 0.25 U to win 0.5 U
First Leg: Jose Altuve Over 1.5 H/R/RBI
I have a gut feeling that Jose Altuve is about to heat up. He struggled early but hit three balls over 95 MPH yesterday, saw one go over the fence, and ended with a 2-5 day. He is, without question, one of the best playoff performers we have in the game. Truthfully, he could be facing Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Zach Wheeler, I don’t care. If he’s seeing the ball well, I’m backing him.
While it started off blind, he does have a great matchup. He’s 12-37 (.324 AVG) with two home runs and three doubles. Against Dane Dunning, he’s 5-11 (.455) with two home runs. I think he leads the game off with a home run. It’s also great value on PrizePicks, sitting at -130 on the BetMGM. He’s also -120 to score a run and is one of the leaders in odds to hit a home run. I think he leads the game off with a home run.
Second Leg: Ketel Marte Over 7 Fantasy Score
This is such a good matchup. He’s also +EV to hit a home run on outlier.
His three favorite pitches to hit are sinkers (+7 RV), four-seamers (+6 RV), and curveballs (+4 RV). Those are Ranger’s three most used pitches, taking up 70% of what he throws. His other two pitches, changeup (+2 RV) and his least used pitch, the cutter, he’s at (+0 RV).
Marte is slashing .313/.382/.497 against lefties this season to give him a .897 OPS compared to a .259/.348/.479 with a .827 OPS vs. RHP, and at home, he’s rocking a .888 OPS vs. on the road, .801 OPS. He’s 6-15 (.400 AVG) off Ranger in his career, all singles. He’s the only guy swinging a hot bat on the Dbacks. I think he puts one over the wall.
He’s also -155 to go over 1.5 H/R/RBI, so we need two more points from somewhere if he gets a single and a run or RBI.
Home Run Sprinkles
Ketel Marte HR (+600) Risk 0.25 U
Jose Altuve FIRST Home Run (+800) Risk 0.1 U
Jose Altuve HR (+390) Risk 0.1 U
Altuve is likelier to hit a home run than Marte, but I think the price should be much closer; that’s why the risk on Marte is slightly higher.