Dallas Keuchel worked deep into the night against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. He pitched a gem to lead the Astros to an easy win over the Angels. Feeling pressure from the Athletics in the American League West, the Astros must keep their heads up and not look behind them. They have to be aware of where the A’s are, but looking behind too much usually doesn’t bode well for a runner.
The A’s won their matchup in Minnesota last night against the Twins to keep pace with the Astros. Even if the Athletics get in as a wildcard, that’s going to be considered a win for them. A couple of months ago getting in the postseason as a wildcard never seemed realistic, nevermind overtaking the Astros and winning the AL West. At one point, way back earlier in the season, the Angels looked like they may have been the team to threaten the Astros.
Everything was working for Houston a night ago, as Keuchel delivered a strong outing while the offense took care of the rest. The Angels added a few runs late, but it was all irrelevant by that point for them. Houston were not about to give up a 7-run lead. With Jose Altuve back in the lineup for the ‘Stros, their offense looks much stronger than it was before. No Altuve meant there was a hole in the lineup without a .329 hitter. When everyone is playing well, the offense can be tough to slow down. We’ll see if they help Justin Verlander out this evening. Verlander will get the start for the Astros, while the Angels opt for Jaime Barria. Get our free Astros vs. Angels pick and writeup below.
Houston Astros vs. L.A. Angels Pick
Justin Verlander (12-8, 2.65 ERA) vs. Jaime Barria (8-7, 3.41 ERA)
JV isn’t coming off his best start, but his offense helped him out with 7 runs over the Athletics. The Astros earned a 7-4 win over the A’s which may look bigger down the road in late September. Verlander allowed 4 runs across 5.1 innings of work. It was the second bad start for him in his last three outings. Note that he gave up 6 runs to the Mariners on the 9th. However, Verlander came back with a strong performance against the Rockies. Usually when he doesn’t pitch well, Verlander has the ability to return and bounce back from the poor outing. He has been better on the road this season, with a 2.09 ERA and 0.98 WHIP as opposed to a 3.13 ERA in Houston.
The Angels have had little success hitting Verlander. As a team, they’re hitting just .159 in 164 at-bats. I’ve noted it in the past, but Mike Trout is one of the few pitchers he has nothing on. Trout is hitting 0.69 against JV in 29 at-bats. That amounts to 2 hits. Verlander has his number which he hopes continues on Saturday.
Barria enters with an adequate ERA of 3.41 for the Angels. He has been razor sharp recently with an ERA of 1.15, but he’s been allowing more base runners than the ERA would indicate. His WHIP was at 1.34 and OBA at .328 which is higher than you will usually find for a guy who tossed a 1.15 ERA. Every one of his opponents had at least a hit per inning, and this was against the Tigers, Padres, and Rangers, not the stingiest of challenges. Barria holds an ERA of 3.66 compared to a 3.13 ERA on the road. With Altuve back and the rust shaken off, we should expect the Astros’ offense to get hot down the stretch. With 10 runs Thursday and another 9 last night, the Astros likely keep it going. Verlander gets some run support and the Astros get a win by 2 runs or more in this one.