Astros vs. Phillies MLB Pick – July 26th

Tuesday offered more MLB betting success, as the Royals did right by us and took down Michael Fulmer and the Tigers for the second time in the past week. KC handed us our fourth correct MLB pick in a row and officially has us riding a nice streak. Let’s look to keep the ball rolling tonight.

Wednesday does not offer a ton of tempting value in MLB, as Vegas wants us to chase gaudy underdog lines for teams like the White Sox and Marlins. We’re not really biting, as those teams don’t look to be in strong position to win against the likes of Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, respectively. With a lack of value, we’re turning to a different kind of value, where we can get a really reliable winner with the Houston Astros visting the Philadelphia Phillies.

Houston is obviously one of the best teams in baseball and usually you don’t need to be told to bet on them, but we don’t have many outs tonight. The value is thin and oddly enough, we actually are getting solid value here. Perhaps it’s injuries to George Springer and Carlos Correa, maybe it’s because the Astros are in the road or maybe it’s a date with the surging Aaron Nola. Whatever the case, this line is a lot closer than it should be and we might need to take advantage of it.

Does that mean an easy backing of the Astros, or is there another bet to consider?

Houston Astros (-128) @ Philadelphia Phillies (+108) Total: 8

Mike Fiers (7-4, 3.59 ERA) vs. Aaron Nola (7-6, 3.38 ERA)

First of all, I’m not taking the Phillies with this low of a line. Aaron Nola is a very good pitcher and the Phillies could sound off at home in a hitter’s park, but I need a little more wiggle room here. Instead, it’s the Astros that look like the preferred value target, whether we’re attacking this straight Money Line or their -1.5 Run Line (+135). The Over is even a better play (-105), especially if you factor in the power from both sides and the hittability at Citizens Bank Park.

But let’s take this one step at a time. Starting with Fiers, there is a slight chance we get a bit of a game here. Fiers has recovered nicely from early season struggles and actually posted 20 strikeouts over his last two starts, but he’s not an elite arm and he’s in a volatile setting. This is a dangerous park for power and he did flash his dangers with hard contact (15 fly balls!) in his last outing.

Fiers could realistically be due for a bad outing here. He’s struggled the most on the road (4.33 ERA with 12 HR allowed) and gets a Phillies lineup that has sported some pop. The Phillies usually fare their best in that department against southpaws, but Fiers’ recent hard contact and the park open the door to the possibility of a mild explosion.

I’m not really buying that, though. Fiers has been good to great for quite some time now and he’s actually been very stingy with home runs (just 3 allowed in his last 10 starts). Maybe he lets a couple slip by him tonight, but even if that happens I’m not sure it will be enough to net a Phillies win.

The real obstacle is Nola, who has been lights out for weeks. Philadelphia’s best arm has been absolutely on fire over his last six starts specifically, as the 24-year old hurler has posted at least 7 strikeouts in each of those outings (4 of which resulted in wins). The splits obviously aren’t going to favor Nola, of course. He’s got a respectable 3.23 home ERA and is silencing righties (.210), but this is the Astros we’re talking about. Houston has a red hot Marwin Gonzalez to help replace the injured Correa and if Springer can’t make it back tonight, impressive rookie Derek Fisher should fill in nicely.

Nola is not a good matchup for anyone, but Houston is immune to bad matchups. They are the second best team in terms of power against right-handed pitching (124 home runs) and sport the best collective betting average against righties in MLB. In addition, the Astros simply don’t K a ton (2nd fewest Ks vs. righties in 2017). Nola could still come out and maintain his strong recent form and squeak out a win, but it doesn’t feel likely. What makes more sense is Nola’s impressive run giving way to a mild hiccup. Houston is the better team, their offense is probably the best in baseball and Fiers has proven to be a more than competent arm to send to the mound.

The Phillies don’t have enough upside here to back, while the Astros offer us some surprisingly awesome value on a pretty stale MLB slate. It feels like an easy pick, and it should be. We can take the Astros straight up, but why stop there? Their elite offense is in a hitter’s park and we get +135 for them to win by two runs. I’m taking that bet all day.

Pick: Houston Astros -1.5 Run Line (+135)

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