We couldn’t get back into the win column last night despite targeting a low 7-run total between the Pirates and Cardinals.
I didn’t expect a ton of offense from Pittsburgh and they scored just two runs on the night, but that was actually enough to pull out the win as the Cardinals were unable to get to Cody Ponce or a weak Pirates bullpen.
A disappoint offensive effort yielded zero runs for the Card as they dropped that one 2-0 and went 0-2 in last night’s double-header with the league-worst Pirates in the process.
Nonetheless, we’ll swallow that pill and move onto an exciting slate of MLB action on this Friday night!
Season Record: 15-9
Now let’s take a look at this free MLB pick featuring the A’s and Astros from Minute Maid Park in Houston!
A’s vs. Astros Betting Odds
- A’s (+101)
- Astros (-111)
- A’s +1.5 (-192)
- Astros -1.5 (+167)
- Over 9 (-110)
- Under 9 (-110)
A’s vs. Astros MLB Pick Breakdown
The A’s will send right-hander Chris Bassitt to the mound for his seventh start of the season to open up a pivotal series with the AL West rival Astros.
While he enters this one sporting a real nice 2.97 ERA on the season, his best work came in his first three starts while he’s labored far more over his last three.
After posting a stout 1.11 ERA in his first three starts of the season, Bassitt has allowed nine runs over his last three starts, posting a 5.00 ERA in that time. He’s walked five batters over his last two starts spanning 11 innings and has allowed 11 hits in that time as well.
His 2.97 ERA on the season is alongside a 3.63 FIP, 4.63 xFIP and a 4.54 SIERA, all of which suggest there very well could be more regression in his future, especially since he’s allowing 44% hard contact on the season and an elevated 37.8% fly-ball rate.
Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. gets the nod for this one as he looks for better results tonight as well.
McCullers allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks across five innings in a losing effort at San Diego his last time out, but he’ll be back home in this one where he is at his best and has been throughout his career.
He owns a 5.74 ERA on the season, but consider he has been torched for a 11.37 ERA on the road compared to a sparkling 1.93 ERA at home across three starts and 18.2 innings of work.
He’s allowed a minuscule .145 batting average and .517 OPS at home this season while his peripherals are strong in the form of a 3.21 FIP and 3.03 xFIP.
In 42 career starts at Minute Maid Park in Houston, McCullers owns a 19-7 record to go along with a 2.62 ERA and 10.5 K/9, so this is a far better matchup for McCullers at home than it would be at the O.Co Coliseum in Oakland where he owns a career ERA of 4.96.
The A’s are one of, if not the most well-round club in the American League right now and their offense is once again getting the job done this season, although they’ve scuffled a bit of late.
Over the last week, the A’s rank 22nd with a .133 ISO and 24th with a .298 wOBA. They’ve taken their walks still with a 10.2% walk rate in that time, but have struggled in the strikeout department with a 26.8% K-rate in that span, the fifth-highest mark in baseball.
They’ve been solid against right-handed pitching this season, ranking 13th with a .322 wOBA against them and 12th with a .183 ISO versus righties as well. Similar to their work of late, they are a patient group with an 11.6% walk rate against righties, but also an elevated 25.6% strikeout rate against them.
Current Oakland hitters have combined to hit .306 with a .145 ISO and .838 OPS in their careers off of McCullers.
The Astros have surged as of late as a team, but their offense has struggled this season against right-handed pitching, something few saw coming after finishing last season as the best offense in baseball by way of their .355 wOBA.
This season, the Astros have fallen all the way to 25th with a .304 wOBA against right-handed pitching while their .151 ISO off righties is tied for 21st.
They’ve been better overall lately, ranking 16th with a .316 wOBA and 10th with a .178 ISO over the last week while walking 11.1% of the time and striking out just 20.8% of the time.
Still, the team remains without all-world third baseman Alex Bregman and George Springer is dealing with an elbow injury and is questionable for this one tonight.
The A’s strongest point of their team this season – and at the moment – is their bullpen.
Over the season as a whole, the A’s have baseball best bullpen by way of their 1.88 ERA while they also rank second with a 2.98 FIP, but their 4.08 xFIP slips down to sixth. Still, not too shabby I’d say.
If we go by fWAR, the A’s are indeed the league’s best bullpen with a 2.8 mark on the season so far.
And they’ve been even better of late.
Over the last week, the A’s bullpen has not allowed a single earned run in 20.2 innings. They actually haven’t struck many out in that time with an 8.27 K/9 and their 3.05 BB/9 solid, but nonetheless they have simply been lights out.
With Liam Hendriks remaining perhaps the best closer in the game with a 1.10 ERA/1.68 FIP and 12.67 K/9 against a 1.65 BB/9 in 16.1 innings this season, the A’s bullpen will be in good hands.
One of the main storylines for the Astros this season has been the rash of injuries, not only to their lineup, and rotation, but also their bullpen.
Closer Roberto Osuna is out for the season while Josh James, Chris Devenski, Brad Peacock and Austin Pruitt all remain on the Injured List out of that Astros ‘pen.
They’ve managed to produce a 15th-ranked 4.40 bullpen ERA despite the rash of injuries, but their MLB-worst 5.43 BB/9 rate won’t do them any favors while their 5.09 xFIP ranks 27th.
Unknowns such as Blake Taylor, Cy Sneed, Enoli Paredes and Andre Scrubb have kept them afloat for now, but one has to wonder if the injuries and peripherals will catch up to this bullpen before the season concludes.
A’s vs. Astros MLB Pick
The A’s are a juggernaut this season at 22-10, but the Astros have come alive of late and are now in second place, but still 4.5 games back of a team that is currently holding down the top seed in the AL.
This is therefore a pivotal set.
That said, there’s two ways to go here for me.
I can’t ignore how good McCullers has been at home both this season and throughout his career. For one reason or another, the guy just dominates at home.
However, I’m not so sure this Astros offense is in a position to give him much run support. I stand by Bassitt being in for regression moving forward, but the banged-up Astros aren’t exactly in the best position to deliver said regression with Bregman out, Springer possibly out and the fact they are among the worst offenses in the league against right-handed pitching.
I originally liked the Astros on the moneyline, and still do, but gathering all the information including that elite A’s bullpen, I believe we are in for a low-scoring affair in this one.
Sign me up for the under from Minute Maid tonight.