The Houston Astros notched another victory over the Angels on Saturday night. Justin Verlander was decent and the offense busted the contest open late. With the Angels threatening after cutting the game to 4-3, the Astros exploited the Angels’ bullpen for 4 runs in the top of the 8th. The return of Jose Altuve has put a jolt in the offense, which isn’t a surprise. Bryce Harper may get all of the headlines and media attention, but Altuve is a guy that has helped out his team more so than Harper, when he’s been healthy that is.
The Astros’ offense is different when he is in the lineup and it’s been evident since he has made his return. They were not playing well at all after the All-Star break. Houston were trying to just get by with pitching. The ‘Stros can certainly win a lot of games simply with their strong pitching. However, when the offense is rolling, it puts them on another level. Carlos Correa was out as well for a bit, which put a damper on the offense as well.
Ohtani knocked in a 2-run shot last night to give the Angels most of their offensive output. He was the only reason for Angels’ fans to get excited about on Saturday night. Ohtani is going to be a fixture in their lineup for years to come. The Angels really don’t want to watch the Mike Trout era go to waste, though. Pujols’ contract has been a massive waste which they’re getting nothing out of. Trout has been leading this team for years now but has been without help. The Angels are hoping that Ohtani can be that help before Trout is out of his prime. He has been shut down as a pitcher, but continues to get at-bats in 2018. Head below for our free Astros vs. Angels pick below.
Houston Astros vs. L.A. Angels Pick
Framber Valdez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Felix Pena (1-3, 4.53 ERA)
Framber Valdez gets the call from the big leagues to make his first ever major league start. It comes at a critical point, as the Astros vie to secure the American League West. Most young pitchers this time of the year are making their first start without too much pressure. The Astros are looking to Valdez to produce right now.
He’s made one relief appearance, which went pretty well against the Mariners. Valdez allowed 2 hits and no earned runs across 4.1 innings. The Mariners scored a run, but it wasn’t chalked up as his responsibility. Valdez carries a 4.11 ERA and 1.28 WHIP from the minors into Sunday. He faces much better hitters in the Angels’ lineup on Sunday.
The hot Astros’ offense will look to keep it cooking on Sunday. Houston have been on a tear with 27 runs scored in their last three games for an average of 9 per game. In their last six games, they’ve averaged 7.2 runs per game. Like I’ve noted, this offense is vastly better with Altuve inserted into the starting lineup and may be getting hot at the right time. Altuve should feel fresh heading into the final stretch after getting time off to heal up.
Felix Pena has gotten battered at home with an ERA of 6.52 and a 1.48 WHIP in 29 innings. The Astros’ bats likely stay hot. Valdez is the wildcard here. He’s made one impressive relief appearance in the majors, but with a larger sample size in the minors, he hasn’t looked nearly as sharp. A play on the OVER looks like the safe pick in this matchup in Anaheim between the Astros and Angels.