The Houston Astros head west for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. Tonight marks game one of the three game set between the two American League West Division rivals. The Astros will send Collin McHugh (1-2 4.01 ERA) to the mound to face off against the Angels rookie starter Parker Bridwell (7-1 2.92 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 PM PST from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.
Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels
Collin McHugh (1-2, 4.01 ERA) vs. Parker Bridwell (7-1, 2.92 ERA)
What has happened to the Houston Astros? Once considered the overwhelming favorite to represent the American League in the World Series, they now appear to be in complete freefall. I was very critical of their moves, or lack thereof, at the trade deadline and was concerned that they were letting the rest of the League catch up with them. And catch up they have.
At one point this season Houston had a whopping twelve game lead over all other teams in the American League. It looked like the best record in the League, and the home field advantage in the playoffs that comes with it was all but wrapped up. Well, that twelve game lead has evaporated, and now Houston finds themselves just four games ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the League, and at this point, it seems to only be a matter of time before they give up that lead for good.
Houston is just 8-14 in August after dropping series to Chicago (AL), Tampa Bay, Washington, and Texas this month. To try and stop the bleeding they will send veteran right hander Collin McHugh to the bump. McHugh spent the first several months of the season on the disabled list and has been a bit shaky since his return to the rotation.
McHugh has struggled to get deep into games so far this year, having not gone more than six innings in any of his six starts thus far this season. He did appear dialed in for his last start though, going 6 shutout innings against the Oakland A’s in a win. But that was against an Oakland A’s squad that has been ravaged by trades and is basically a Triple-A lineup at this point, so I am not sure how much you really want to read into that performance. McHugh has been somebody the Astros have been able to count on down the stretch the last couple of years as he holds the distinction of the longest active win streak in the Majors for wins in September and October. Pretty impressive late season run for McHugh, but my calendar still says August so we will see if he can fire it up a little early this year in Anaheim tonight.
Mike Trout missed six weeks of the season this year with a bad thumb. Somehow his Angels team hung around in the playoff race without their best player and now that he has returned have been on a tear and find themselves very much in the race for the American league Wild Card. Coming in to play today the Angels are just .5 games back of the second Wild Card spot in the American League, impressive stuff if you look at how little talent this lineup has top to bottom.
The Angels have gone 14-8 in August and have a very soft spot on the schedule coming up. They play these struggling Astros for three games, then have Oakland for three, the Texas Rangers for three, and then three more with Oakland. That is a long stretch of games against a couple of very weak teams, if the Angels can stay hot, they could emerge as real playoff contenders. Tonight, they turn to budding rookie sensation Parker Bridwell to try and continue the hot streak.
If you haven’t heard the name Parker Bridwell yet, listen up. The Angels rookie starter has been taking the League by storm over the last several months. The most impressive thing that Bridwell has done? To quote football legend, Al Davis, “just win baby!” In Bridwell’s 13 starts this year the Angels are an astounding 12-1! Bridwell is 7-1 on the year and has won his last five decisions. The Angels picked up Bridwell earlier this season for cash considerations from the Baltimore Orioles, and that move is turning out to be a great one. Bridwell has given up two earned runs or less in ten of his thirteen starts, the kid has been good, really good.
For tonight’s game, I am backing the Angels. They are at home and are the hotter of the two teams. Houston can’t seem to get its act together, and the Angels are looking more legit every day. McHugh has been shaky, and Bridwell has been on fire. All signs point to some fantastic value tonight on a home underdog in LA. Give me the Angels tonight in what I expect to be a hard-fought game at +102.
PICK: Angels +102