The Los Angeles Angels are headed to Texas for a three-game series with the Houston Astros starting on Monday. Los Angeles comes into this one at 15-18 and in last place in the American League West, but the Angels just took two of three from the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers in the first Freeway series of the year. The Astros (18-16) are in second place in the AL West and just won two of three at home from the Toronto Blue Jays. These clubs split a two-game series in early April and the Astros took three of four in late April.
Joe Maddon and the Angels will be going with Junior Guerra as the fill-in starter. The Astros will counter with Luis Garcia, who has struggled to establish himself as a starting pitcher and is 0-3. Garcia faced the Angels in a 7-6 loss on April 5.
The online sportsbook has the MLB betting line at Houston -190 to win the series and Los Angeles comes in at +155 moneyline underdogs.
Houston can hit
Houston has not been playing particularly well. The Astros are 5-5 in their last 10 games, although they have outscored their opponents by eight runs. The offense has been their edge, batting .260 as a team, good for second best in the American League. Notably, Yordan Alvarez is batting a whopping .362 and Yuli Gurriel already has 40 hits. If the bats keep producing, Houston is going to be tough to stop.
The Astros have been dealing with a wounded pitching staff all year. Starting pitchers Enoli Paredes, Jake Odorizzi and Framber Valdez are all on the injured list while Justin Verlander is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Dusty Baker called in Luis Garcia for Monday’s matchup. He used to be a relief pitcher and is trying to make it in the starting role. Garcia has yet to record a win but his ERA is lower than the league average at 3.28 and he has 28 strikeouts. It will be interesting to see if he can have a solid outing at home against the powerful bats of the Angels.
The Oakland Athletics, Houston’s biggest division rival, have been red hot but the Astros remain only two games back in the AL West. That’s a division race worth keeping your eye on (or putting your money on) with Houston +120 to win the AL West.
Angels need pitching
The Angels will be landing in Houston after playing great baseball over the weekend and taking two of three from the Dodgers. Prior to winning the Freeway Series, the Angels got swept at home by the Tampa Bay Rays in a four-game series and are 3-7 in their last 10 games.
The hitting has not been the issue for the Angels as they have elite offensive talent. Los Angeles has the third-best team batting average in baseball at .259. Future Hall of Famer Mike Trout is batting .376. David Fletcher has 40 hits, Jared Walsh has a .405 OBP and, of course, Shohei Ohtani has 10 home runs, which is tied for the most in baseball. On top of that, Anthony Rendon should be back from a knee injury soon.
Los Angeles’ challenges come on the mound. As a staff, they allow more runs per game than any other team in the league, averaging 5.58 thus far. Hard to imagine this team thriving in October but they are +3000 to win the World Series for anyone who thinks a club can be built without pitching.
Astros should win at home
Interestingly, the Astros are 9-8 on the road and at home. The Angels do not play particularly well on the road, so we should expect the Astros to handle their business at home. Love them or hate them, the Astros are a well-built team with a ton of talent. Their record does not make them look like a top team in the majors but they are 13-7 against opponents from the AL West and they will be looking to keep that going. If they can piece together innings from some of their lesser-known pitchers, they can be dangerous. Look for Houston to take the series opener and with the MLB series betting line at Houston -190, we like the Astros to take the series, as well.