I have said it once and I will say it again. Be careful betting on baseball at this point in the season. A lot of what is going on now is just a feeling out process for next season for many teams. Teams are beginning to clinch postseason berths and divisions, so at this juncture they are just looking to stay healthy. But there are still some out there that need to keep winning. These last few games are in fact the most important part of the year for them. The Houston Astros are one of these teams that need to keep winning. They were hot to start the season, real hot, but that sort of went to the wayside as the second-half wore on. However, a recent run by the ‘Stros has them with the 2nd wildcard spot in the AL. The Astros need three wins to beat out the Mariners and guarantee a spot in the postseason. Easier said than done, though, as mentally these should be the toughest games of the season for them.
For a young team games like this should evoke stress and pressure. Even seasoned veterans feel the nerves in these situations. I will say one thing, whether the Astros make the postseason or not is a moot point, they have already succeeded in my eyes and the eyes of many other individuals. Nevertheless, when you’re this close to the postseason you might as well make it, right? I believe the Astros have a pretty bright future and their days of sitting in the basement are over with. Like the Cubs, if the Astros play their hand right, they will be winning divisions and not just fighting for a wildcard berth. The ‘Stros get their ace on the mound tonight against the Diamondbacks. Dallas Keuchel has once again been a centerpiece for the Astros this season. 2014 was no fluke, and Keuchel is amongst the best this season. You won’t hear his name too often, but know that he is a great pitcher. He and Rubby De La Rosa meet up in the desert for this pivotal matchup, for the Astros at least.
Houston Astros vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Dallas Keuchel (19-8, 2.47 ERA) vs. Rubby De La Rosa (14-8, 4.56)
If you take a look at the numbers for Keuchel lately, one would think that something is seriously wrong with him. He has a 5.12 ERA in his last three starts. But does that really tell the whole picture? I don’t think so. In one start Keuchel allowed 9 runs, his worst start of the year, but he then bounced back for two games in a row in which he allowed a single run in each. In his last start he allowed just 2 hits in total. Further, in six out of his previous ten starts, Keuchel has allowed 1 or no runs. 9 runs against is an anomaly for Keuchel, a better reflection of his production is his last two starts, where he has been pitching like that frequently all year long.
In one start against the Diamondbacks this season, Keuchel allowed only 2 runs on 2 hits. Meanwhile I think the ERA of De La Rosa, 5.40, is indicative of what kind of pitcher he really is. Notably, he has struggled pitching at home with an ERA of 4.99 and a 1.36 WHIP. I suspect that Keuchel brings it tonight and brings the Astros closer to the postseason. Like I have said, I don’t love any baseball plays this time of the season. With that in mind I keep my bets small. But that has to be a situation where the Astros smash the D-Backs and inch closer to the playoffs.
PICK: ASTROS -1.5 (+100)