Do you think the Houston Astros would appreciate having J.D. Martinez right about now? The Astros gave up on Martinez a couple of years ago, shipping him to Detroit for free, essentially. Ever since then Martinez has been one of the better hitters in all of baseball. The ‘Stros have trended up since that time too, but can you imagine what a guy like Martinez would have done for their offense? I would argue he could have been the piece of the puzzle to put them over the top. This season it’s been a roller coaster of sorts for the Astros. They were way down to start the season, then up, now they are heading downwards again.
Like a stock chart, the Astros have been up and down. Whatever analogy you want to use, the fact of the matter is that the ‘Stros better hit the next gear through August and into September. This is a critical series against the Blue Jays, a team they could ultimately be battling it out with for a wildcard spot.
The Astros have gone 3-7 in their last ten games, giving the Texas Rangers a nice cushion in the AL West by 5.5 games. Houston is in danger of dropping their third in a row against the Blue Jays, which would be their fifth loss in the last six games. Teams that want to find a place in the postseason have to find their stride by the end of August, so we’ll see what the rest of the season is going to be like for the Astros.
I can say one thing, it’s going to be pretty interesting what transpires for these former World Series’ favorites. Remember at the start of the year they were a hot pick to win the World Series. After they had a coming out party last year, the expectations are there for them to perform now. It seems they still have a couple of holes to plug up before they can fulfill the expectations. J.A. gets the start for the Jays tonight, who has been a pleasant acquisition for them on his second stint in Toronto. Fiers counters for the Astros.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros
J.A. Happ (14-3, 3.16 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (7-4, 4.42 ERA)
Getting Happ on the cheap has been a blessing for the Blue Jays. He is pitching better now than he has at any other point in his career. With Stroman struggling in 2016, Happ has picked up that slack. A 4.00 ERA would have been fine for Happ, but he’s trumped that as he is coming into tonight with an impressive 3.16 ERA. Note that in four of his last five starts, he has allowed less than 2 runs. Happ sports a 1.93 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over his last three starts. Those aren’t the kind of numbers you expect from a career + 4.00 ERA pitcher. In any event, Happ has had his moments, none bigger than this season with the Blue Jays.
Mike Fiers has had only one start against the Jays and he pitched brilliantly, allowing only 1 run and 2 hits in 8 innings. He has been pretty capable at home, posting a 3.39 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Fiers has notched a less than desirable 4.76 ERA in his last three starts, but it was thanks to one bad start, where he allowed 6 runs to the Athletics. Fiers rebounded with 3 earned runs against the Angels, and 0 against the red hot Tigers. I’m going to grab a piece of the UNDER 8.5 for Thursday night on the diamond.
PICK: UNDER 8.5 RUNS (-115)