Texas and Houston have split the first two games of their weekend series at Minute Maid Park. The rubber match is tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
The home Astros are bigger than -300 favorites behind Justin Verlander.
Even as recently as earlier this decade, I remember -300 lines popping up as little as just a few times a season. It seems as though more games are more heavily lopsided these days.
At some shops, Houston is closer to -400 than -300 tonight and it’s easy to understand why. Verlander has looked like an ace ever since he arrived in Houston, including his first three starts of this season. The man who makes $28 million per year has 23 strikeouts in fewer than 19 innings, with a 1.45 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
The Rangers are giving the Sunday Night Baseball audience what it wants tonight, but it’s really hard to imagine Bartolo Colon keeping his team competitive with Verlander, despite the fact that he’s got a 1.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and a 10:1 strikeout:walk ratio in 11 innings this season.
But balls were flying out of the park on both sides yesterday afternoon. The Rangers have some serious power with Joey Gallo and a new young kid, who is a very big kid, I might add, Ronald Guzman. Guzman hit his first career home run on Saturday and should be back in the lineup tonight against the right-hander. I don’t expect Texas to get completely shutdown by Verlander tonight.
And that’s important because Houston feels like it’s just about a lock for four or five runs, with great potential to go way over that. Look, Colon has tremendous control but all he throws is a fastball. That can get you by against half the league, maybe even more than half, but the Houston Astros have the most potent lineup in the game and they really know how to hit at home. In a bandbox against a lineup with the prowess of the Houston Astros, I don’t see Colon sticking around long. Once he does depart in the fourth or fifth inning after having given up three or four runs, the Rangers bullpen, which isn’t very good, won’t fare much better.
Even if Houston only gets four or five runs, Texas can push this thing over. And even if Verlander is untouchable, the ‘Stros very well may put up eight or nine themselves.
Free Pick: Over 8.0