The Houston Astros head to the west coast after a rocky weekend against the White Sox in Chicago. They won the opener, but faltered in the next two games. They dropped a 4-1 decision and then got into a high-scoring shootout in a 13-9 final. The second game was an uncharacteristic loss for the Astros, as their pitching got throttled for 13 runs yesterday afternoon.
Wade Miley got out of sorts early and lasted just 3.1 innings before the bullpen took over and took an even worse beating. Ryan Pressly took the biggest loss, as he was exploited for 4 earned runs in just an inning of work. Despite that rough series, the Astros are in good shape with a 9.5-game lead in the AL West.
The Astros can afford to take a hit in August and still cruise to the postseason with the AL West crown in hand. However, they are still competing with the Yankees for seeding. The Yankees are currently a few games up on the Astros, so there is work left to do for Houston in that regard. There’s also the Dodgers who would have homefield advantage on them if they were to meet in the World Series.
The main objective is under wraps for the Astros, though. They won’t have to play in the Wild Card Game, while the Athletics don’t know if they’ll be playing in any postseason game. Every game becomes more important than the previous from now on out.
Mike Fiers, who has been the most underrated pitcher in the majors this year, will be tasked with leading the Athletics to a win over the Astros on Thursday. Conversely, Aaron Sanchez will be making his third start as a member of the Astros tonight. Head below for our free Astros vs. Athletics pick.
Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics Pick:
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Aaron Sanchez was thrown a life preserver when the Astros called the Blue Jays and acquired about the availability of him. Sanchez got a trade to a competitive team and a club who has been known for getting the most out of their pitchers. Even Justin Verlander has looked better in Houston and this is after pitching no-hitters and a Cy Young in Detroit. JV said he learned things he never knew before and it’s appeared to help.
In Sanchez’s short time in Houston thus far, he’s been good with a 0.82 ERA in two outings. Is it the Astros’ effect or he is just finally finding his groove? It could be a little of both. Sanchez did put together a solid outing for the Blue Jays against the Indians two starts before going to Houston. Overall on the season, Sanchez enters with a 5.60 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. I don’t think he was as bad as he looked in Toronto for the majority of the year, but I also don’t think he’s as good as we’ve seen in Houston the last two games.
Sanchez has been wobbly pitching on the road in 2019, as he holds an ERA of 6.41 and 1.79 WHIP in 60.1 innings. The Athletics are hitting .269 with 6 runs scored on Sanchez in 52 at-bats. The key for Oakland in this game, though, is going to be the play of Mike Fiers. Everyone has been sleeping on him this season, but he’s been producing in their rotation.
Fiers has been particularly sharp at home, where he’s boasted an ERA of 2.54 and 1.03 WHIP in 78 innings. Note that in ten of his previous eleven outings, Fiers has allowed 2 or less runs. He hasn’t given up more than 3 runs in a start since way back on April 20th against the Blue Jays. The ‘Stros are hitting just .230 against Fiers in 122 at-bats. The oddsmakers have been sleeping on Fiers this season as well. As a home underdog, Fiers is always worth a look.