A series that has consistently produced money for me is the Astros and Athletics. In the last few seasons it feels like I haven’t lost a pick when they get together. I can’t say that too many people get excited for when the Astros and A’s meet, but I see it as a time to make money. Considering how horrendous the Astros have been, and a couple of decent pitchers in their rotation, it has led to their games being some of the lower scoring ones in the league. Conversely, the Athletics have traditionally been a team that has relied on pitching. This season they have been a little sporadic and all over the map. Blow out a team one night then get blown out the next. There are two types of Athletics teams that we see on a nightly basis. The good Athletics and then the bad Athletics. They still haven’t seemed to figure out how to turn a season of success into success in the playoffs. I don’t think the Athletics have gotten better than in previous years this offseason, so I can’t say I have faith they are going to do much this season. You’ll see them be good some nights and bad others.
The Athletics have a tough test in front of them tonight. Dallas Keuchel came out of nowhere to turn in a great year for the Astros. It was one of the few bright spots for the Astros in his coming out party of 2014. Keuchel looks to parlay his impressive 2014 into another season that comes up aces. By all accounts, he is right on track to making that a reality. The Stros look to have a core of players that could lead them to some good things. Maybe not this season, but if things play out well for them they should be a good, competitive team in a year or two. Keuchel and heavy hitter George Springer are part of that equation. Thus far Springer hasn’t been pulling his weight for this team, and if he was, I see them having a better record than their current mark of 8-7. Don’t get me wrong, that is a step in the right direction for this team, but unfortunately, Springer, who has been dubbed the future of the Astros hasn’t come around just yet. A lot of time for that to happen, though. Time to look deeper and ascertain if we can find a solid winner out of this game.
Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics
Dallas Keuchel (2-0, 0.90 ERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.33 ERA)
I wanted to see how Keuchel was going to respond after the kind of year he had last year and he’s shown no signs of regression. I wanted to take the UNDER in one of his last starts, against the Angels, but ended up shying away. Big mistake, Keuchel made fools out of the Angels and the Astros ended up going on to win. Tonight he gets a look at the Athletics, in the friendly confines of a big pitchers’ ballpark. Keuchel amassed an ERA of 2.92 in 29 starts for the Astros. Without showing any signs of slowing down, Keuchel has allowed only 2 runs over three starts this season, which is over 20 innings pitched. He has kept his on base percentage low as well. Opposing hitters have a OBP of just .256 with a 1.00 WHIP. It looks like it could be another big year for Keuchel in Houston. The offense just has to come around and they should be sitting well, or at least, much better than the last few seasons.
The offense may find it tough going against Scott Kazmir. Kazmir is a guy I kept waiting for to hit a wall last year, but he never goes, he just kept chugging along turning out solid outing after solid outing. In his 12th season in the majors, Kazmir has started off on the right foot. He owns an ERA of 1.33, allowing no runs in his start at home. He also has a tremendous WHIP of 0.79. Pitching in Oakland is always a nice setup for pitchers. The UNDER is 6-2 in their last eight times playing. We should get another typical Astros/A’s pitching duel tonight. I’ll bite on the UNDER 7.
PICK: UNDER 7 RUNS (-120)