The Houston Astros put their five-game winning streak on the line out west against the Oakland Athletics. It appears to be a three-team race in the American League, with the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox all in contention. Of course, I should throw the Mariners in there who are currently neck and neck with the Astros for 1st in the AL West. It will be interesting to see if they hold up in the long run.
The Angels were looking good for a minute, but the injury to Ohtani is going to be a blow for them. They avoided a major bullet when it was announced that he won’t need Tommy John surgery, but he’s still going to have to deal with a severe sprain in his shoulder. His shoulder is hanging on by a thread, so don’t expect him back anytime soon. The Angels still may find a way into the postseason as a wildcard, the AL isn’t very competitive outside of the teams I mentioned above.
The Astros have gotten elite pitching throughout the season, but their offense has lagged behind a bit. Nothing particularly worrisome, but they didn’t open the year lightning the scoreboard up by any means. This might be the scariest thing about the Astros for the rest of the American League. Their offense is just beginning to score in bunches, and they’re a 42-25 team. With the pitching and offense clicking at the same time, I don’t think anyone else is going to have an answer for them. If Justin Verlander brings a flamethrower to the postseason again, it’s going to be mighty difficult for anyone to knock them off the top. Head below for our free Astros vs. Athletics pick.
Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics Pick
Lance McCullers Jr. (7-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Daniel Mengden (6-5, 3.45 ERA)
Justin Verlander deservedly gets a lot of attention in the Astros’ rotation, but he isn’t the only guy who can spin it on this team. Don’t forget about Dallas Keuchel and Gerrit Cole is having a career-year with his new team. Lance McCullers hasn’t been on fire, but other than a few bad spots he has been reliable. As a team, the starting rotation of the ‘Stros are 1st in the majors with an ERA of 2.91. Parlay that with a bullpen who are 4th in the majors, with a 2.97 ERA, and you have the best pitching staff in the majors.
McCullers had a blemish against the Indians in his last outing, but he’s been sharp otherwise. Other than that and a bad start in early April, McCullers hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs per start. He has performed well against the A’s in his career, holding them to a .235 batting average and 1 deep ball in 68 at-bats. Despite having a 6.61 ERA, his numbers are inflated after getting battered by the Indians for 7 runs. He was solid in his most recent outings against the Red Sox and Mariners, a couple of capable offenses.
Daniel Mengden who is coming off a rough start against the Rangers will hope to ounce back. Mengden was dinged for 5 hits and 6 runs across 4 innings. He hasn’t had much of a favorable history against the Astros in his career. Note that they are hitting .316 with 4 deep balls against Mengden in 95 at-bats. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa have all done a number on him with all hitting him better than .500. Correa has missed some time but is expected to return to the lineup tonight. Mengden may have the stache, but I like McCullers and the Astros to find a win in Oakland on Tuesday night.