Astros vs. Rangers Pick MLB – Sept. 17th

Well, so much for a Cy Young effort from Dallas Kuechel last night. The implosion in Houston is reaching deep enough despair that the inevitably annoying deluge of “Houston, we have a problem” quips are sure to be forthcoming.   I prefer to be a tad more clever in verbiage, but it is hard to deny that things are getting dicey for the ‘Stros. Texas hammered them 14-3 last night to stretch their division lead to two games in the loss column and have a chance to deal another uppercut tonight if they can finish the four-game sweep. It’s hard to proclaim anything as “over” when they still have three more head-to-head matchups after this series, but it is an undeniably strong statement made by the Rangers this week.

Meanwhile, the Mets can’t possibly collapse again…. Can they? We are nowhere near panic-time yet, as the Mets still have a 7 ½ game cushion in the East, but having already authored one of the biggest collapses in history in their not-so-distant past, it is at least worth noting they’ve dropped two straight in unimpressive fashion while the Nats are rolling. With three games head-to-head remaining, the Nats need only to make up four games (‘only’ being a bit understated) in the next two weeks to force a riveting final weekend series at Citi Field….

We notched a winner last night, and even though I accidentally overlapped picks with Kyle, at least we both were on the winning side. It was my third straight winner, so let’s see if we can keep it rolling tonight.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Houston Astros +100 at Texas Rangers -110 (Total: 9)

Lance McCullers vs. Colby Lewis

It seems the inevitable regression to the mean theorem finally caught up to the Astros. Despite a slim run differential and mediocre offensive splits, the Astros had led the division nearly all year long. Enter the red-hot Rangers.

Texas blew the doors off, making up ten games in the standings in the span of a little over a month to surge into first place and are looking to cap off a four game sweep and end the series with a playoff spot squarely in their sights.

Tonight is a tough spot for the Astros rookie hurler. McCuller has been good in his four starts since being recalled from the minors, posting a 2.82 ERA and generally looking sharp. However, his shaky 15 to 8 strikeout to walk is cause for concern. Even more concern is his last outing against these same Rangers, which was SO BAD that it precipitated his demotion to the minors. There will be some extra motivation for McCullers, but also some likely trepidation as well.

Then this is this elephant in the room. The Astros at 29-45 have the worst road record in the American League. You can’t be a playoff team very often with the WORST road record in the league. I think that reality has sunk in a bit in Houston – this is a good, but far from great team and always has been.

Colby Lewis hasn’t been a world beater, but he is accustomed to this stage and has the Rangers offense hitting in their home park. That recipe has worked well all year. No reason it shouldn’t again tonight.

Free Pick: Texas Rangers to WIN -110