The Los Angeles Dodgers welcome the Houston Astros on a rather high note. They blasted the Brewers away by a score of 21-5. The Brewers are not some punching bag team, but the Dodgers treated them as such on Thursday. It was a nice way to lead them into their series with the Astros in what is a World Series rematch in Los Angeles. The offense powered their way through the Brewers like hot butter to take a split against the Brewers. Milwaukee won the first two games, while the Dodgers came back to win 6-4 and 21-5 in the next two matchups.
This series should have a postseason like atmosphere at Dodger Stadium this weekend. The Astros are returning to the same place that they won the World Series in Game 7. LA failed to get any offense going, as they had to settle for 2nd place in a 5-1 loss. With the addition of Manny Machado, the Dodgers added a critical piece to the puzzle that they didn’t have a year ago. We’ll see soon if it helps them. It’s World Series or bust for the Dodgers.
Houston are looking to repeat in 2018, but all of the teams around them have gotten better since last October. Notably, the Dodgers and Red Sox have beefed up in their quest to overtake the ‘Stros. The Yankees have attempted to, but they have pitching issues that I don’t think can be fixed in two months. They are likely going to the postseason as a wildcard, where they will have to look out this year. The Yanks got by the Twins in the Wild Card Round last season, but they look ripe for an upset with that shoddy bullpen of theirs. The Astros will send out ace Justin Verlander to the bump this evening. LA counters with a quality pitcher of their own, as Alex Wood steps up for the Dodgers. Get our free Astros vs. Dodgers pick below.
Houston Astros vs. L.A. Dodgers Pick
Justin Verlander (10-6, 2.24 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (7-5, 3.68 ERA)
The Astros have been hit by injuries to two of their heaviest hitters, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Altuve is on the 10-day DL and hopes not to have any long-term issues with his knee. He is the engine of this offense and it would be a significant blow if this hampers him. Meanwhile, Correa is just beginning his rehab assignment and will miss some more time. Astros have felt the impact, as their offense has looked like it’s stuck in mud at times in the second-half.
They finally broke through for 8 runs in an 8-3 win over the Mariners on Wednesday. It was the first time they scored more than 5 runs since July 24th, which came in the hitter friendly Coors Field. They went on a stretch following that where they averaged just 1.8 runs per game across five games. I was on the Astros on Wednesday and expected them to hit Wade LeBlanc, but they face a stiffer test in Alex Wood at Dodger Stadium tonight.
Wood has held the Astros to a .150 batting average. Jonathan Singleton is the only Astro to get extra bases against Wood in 20 at-bats. He’s been solid lately with an ERA of 2.55 and hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs since June 3rd. Despite putting up 8 runs in their last game, the Astros’ offense has been slow without Altuve and Correa in the lineup. Wood is not LeBlanc.
The Astros will have Justin Verlander backing them up, though. He enters with an ERA of 2.24 and 0.89 WHIP. The Dodgers have managed just 1 long ball on Verlander in 120 at-bats. Machado is responsible for the single dinger. JV has been comfortable on the road, posting an ERA of 1.81 and 0.97 WHIP in 64.2 innings. The UNDER has gone 8-2-1 in the past eleven meetings between the Astros and Dodgers. I expect this to represent a postseason game with every hit being extra important. With that said, a 3-2 or 4-2 final looks reasonable. Best of luck this weekend with your picks whether you tail or fade.