There are always one or two teams that make immense improvements from year-to-year. Without question that honor goes to the Houston Astros this season. They have been stockpiling prospects for years now and it is finally starting to pay off in 2015. I thought give them one more year to put it all together, but the Astros have appeared to do that a year ahead of schedule. I don’t know if we can classify it as the surprise of 2015 because there were expectations for Houston to finally break out, but you can say the way they’ve been doing it this early in the season is a bit surprising. I seen them getting off to a .500 start to the All-Star Break and then having a good second half leading to a big campaign in 2016. A big campaign next season isn’t off the plate; however, let’s not look too far ahead and look at what the Astros have now for this season. Houston is 25-13 on the year which should garner some attention. Baseball is of course a marathon not a sprint, there is plenty of time for them to fade away, but the way that it’s looking that may not be the case with the ‘Stros.
By all means it looks like the Astros have pulled a Space Jam and sucked all the talent out of the Oakland Athletics and left them in complete disarray. I did believe that the A’s were going to have a down season compared to the past few, but not at the current rate they’re going. The Athletics are 13-25, so yes, my Space Jam theory holds true. It appears that we have two organizations heading in opposite directions in full. The Astros should be a team that hangs around for the next ten years, I’m not as confident in the Athletics as they had their chance to win a World Series when they were at their apex, but choked and choked again. Now that their time is probably up, they can enjoy how the view looks from the bottom again. They have a chance to get back on track tonight against a pitcher making his first major league start.
Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Drew Pomeranz (2-3, 4.42 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
The number 10 prospect in the Astros’ organization gets the nod on the mound tonight. Lance McCullers believed he’d be getting the call to go up to AAA but as it has it he would be skipping AAA for the show. Not much time for him at all to gather himself and mentally prepare for tonight. However, that might be a plus for McCullers, as having too much time to think can sometimes be worse than better. He’s looked great at the AA level with a 0.62 ERA and opponent average of .146. This, though, is a big step forward from AA to MLB. His start tonight may come down to if he can keep his emotions in check.
The A’s respond with Drew Pomeranz, who is your proto-typical middle of the rotation stuffer. Pitchers that can consistent hit in the 4.00 to 5.00 ERA range can turn out a pretty good career as a pitcher. Pomeranz had a good 2014 after moving over from the Rockies, posting a 2.35 ERA in 10 starts. An improvement from the 6.23 ERA and 4.93 ERA he had in previous seasons. Pomeranz has gotten rocked on the road, allowing an ERA of 6.86 and .363 OBP with a 1.68 WHIP in three starts. I like the Astros to win this game, but McCullers may be a bit shaky to start in his first ever start. I feel the safer bet is on the OVER. The Astros have been hitting well, scoring 20 runs in their last three games. The A’s also hit right-handers much better than lefties, .270 vs .210. I’ll take the OVER 8.5.
PICK: OVER 8.5 RUNS (-115)