I’m a big believer in the metrics and the analytics. You know that. If you’re read or listened to anything I’ve done throughout my career in this business, especially on the MLB side, you are fully aware of how much I look at the numbers.
The numbers are fairly strong in this game, but there is something else about this game that really pulls me in one direction.
The Yankees will start Nestor Cortes in this one. Cortes has been outstanding in his 21 innings with just four runs allowed on 13 hits. Only three are earned for a 1.29 ERA and a 1.55 FIP. Cortes made his first start of the season last time out and held the Mets to one run on two hits in 3.1 innings with four strikeouts in the July 4 doubleheader.
Cortes will face a much tougher lineup here, as the Astros lead MLB in performance against left-handed pitchers. Houston has a .284 average with a .344 wOBA and a 123 wRC+. Nobody comes close in the wRC+ department and the White Sox are seven points behind in the wOBA department.
It will be interesting to see how the Yankees follow Cortes. Lucas Luetge hasn’t pitched in four days. Luis Cessa and Domingo German both worked on Wednesday, so I don’t think we’ll see them. We’ll likely see a lefty follow Cortes, so that should play into Houston’s hands.
The Astros will send out Jake Odorizzi, whose full-season numbers are not indicative of how he has pitched recently. Odorizzi allowed nine runs on 10 hits in his first two starts across 7.2 innings of work. He faced one batter in his next start and didn’t pitch again until May 29. Since returning on May 29, Odorizzi has a 2.16 ERA with a 3.02 FIP. He has 29 strikeouts against nine walks in 33.1 innings of work.
Admittedly, Odorizzi’s last four outings have been against Texas, Baltimore, Detroit, and Cleveland, so this is a really big step up in class, but the Astros should also be able to provide him some run support and I think a guy like Odorizzi should thrive in this creative environment with Houston. I’m not surprised to see him pitching well.
Here’s the intangible part of the handicap. The Astros are a team that flips the switch on and off. They’re 41-20 against teams .500 or better. The Yankees are 25-28. Houston just turns it up when they want to and my guess is that they’ll want to against the Yankees. When the Astros are engaged, they’re a different team. Hell, they’re 13-14 against teams with a losing record.
I’ll lay the Houston price today. I think this line is a little cheap. They’re just so much different in games when it matters to them.