The Texas Rangers meet the Houston Astros for the first time this season, so here’s the best betting pick for the opening clash of their four-game series at Minute Maid Park in Houston this Thursday night.
According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Astros are -190 favorites to win the opener, while the Rangers are listed as +175 underdogs with a total of 9.0 runs. The first pitch is set at 8:10 PM ET, so let’s take a closer look at these two AL West foes.
The Rangers got swept in San Francisco to fell below .500
The Texas Rangers dropped to 18-20 on the season following a two-game series at Oracle Park in San Francisco. They suffered a couple of narrow losses, 3-1 and 4-2, as the Rangers couldn’t get things going at the plate, while the Giants’ pitching staff has been outstanding on both occasions.
Texas is scoring 4.24 runs per game (tied-15th in the majors) while slashing .243/.313/.396 which are all above the league average. Over the last 12 days, the Rangers have been leading the MLB in batting average (.278) and slugging percentage (.466), smacking 16 home runs in that span (also 1st in the majors).
The Rangers are yielding 4.45 runs per contest (19th in baseball), and their pitching staff has allowed the most home runs so far this season (51). Mike Foltynewicz will toe the slab in the opening game of the Astros series, and he’s 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in seven starts this term.
Folty started the 2021 MLB season with three straight losses. Last time out, the 29-year-old right-hander has pitched 6.2 frames in a no-decision against Seattle, yielding four earned runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five.
The Astros are over .500 despite their shaky form
The Houston Astros played the closing contest of a three-game home series against the Angels on Tuesday night after splitting the first two games of this set. Excluding their Tuesday’s clash, the Astros are 5-4 in their last nine games overall. They sit at the second spot of the AL West standings with a 19-17 record, two and a half games behind the Oakland Athletics.
The Astros are tallying 5.03 runs per game (4th in the majors) while posting the second-best batting average (.260) and the third-best slugging percentage (.425). They hit 40 home runs (tied-17th) and got fanned just 260 times through their first 36 games (2nd).
Houston is surrendering 4.03 runs per game (9th in the majors), and the Astros’ pitching staff has allowed 45 round-trippers so far this season (21st). Cristian Javier will take the mound Thursday, and the 24-year-old righty is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in six starts this term. Still, Javier has yielded eight earned runs in total over his last two starts and 10.1 frames of work.
- 5-12 in the last 17 games against Houston
- 3-6 in the last nine contests on the road
- 13-2 in the last 15 home games against Texas
- 9-4 in the last 13 outings at home
The Astros should win this game on the back of their prolific offense. Even though their bullpen has a mediocre ERA of 4.02, the Astros owns plenty of dangerous weapons, so I’m expecting the hosts torture Mike Foltynewicz and the Rangers’ bullpen that owns the 12th-lowest ERA in the majors (3.82).
Houston met some tough teams in May, and the Astros’ offense had worked well against the Rays, Yankees, and Blue Jays before scoring nine runs through a couple of games against the Angels.
Pick: Take Houston Astros at -190
Interestingly, the Rangers have scored exactly one run in four of their last five visits to Minute Maid Park. The under has hit in nine of the previous 11 encounters between the Rangers and Astros in Houston, but these two AL West foes have been pretty efficient lately. Also, both Foltynewicz and Javier haven’t been at their best over the last few starts, so I’m going with the over.
Folty has allowed 11 dingers through 40 innings, and that’s the most in the big leagues this season. He owns a solid 36/9 ratio, but the Astros have the lowest strikeout percentage of all major league teams (19.1%).
On the other side, Javier had three terrific games in April, allowing no runs through 17 innings of work. However, it’s been a bumpy ride for the righty since then.
Pick: Go over 9.0 runs at -105