We have lots of action on the slate today as Major League Baseball has twelve games on the schedule with some marquee matchups. The White Sox host the Brewers, the Indians host the Reds, and the Yankees are in Philly. The game we are going to focus on today is the matchup between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Houston Astros.
Houston Astros (6-5) at Arizona Diamondbacks (4-8)
The Arizona Diamondbacks host the Houston Astros tonight in game three of a three-game series, looking for the series win. Houston took game one 8-2, but Arizona exploded for fourteen runs last night in game two, to tie the series up at one game apiece. Wins have been hard to come by for Arizona as they are just 4-8 on the season and find themselves in the basement of the National League West Division.
For Houston, the Astros are mostly treading water at this point, as they are 6-5, and trail the red-hot Oakland Athletics, a team that has now won five straight games in the American League West Division. Houston has played a light schedule thus far and have struggled against some weaker competition and have losses on their record to bad teams like the Mariners, Angels, and DBacks.
Starting tonight for Arizona is Zach Galen (0-0 2.70 ERA), and for the Astros, it is Brandon Bielak (2-0 1.69 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The game is nearly an even pick ‘em, with the DBacks currently one penny favorites at -109. First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 PM PST from Chase Field in Arizona.
We already talked about how the Astros have played a soft schedule and they haven’t really been able to take advantage of it. Houston has played series against the Mariners, Angels, and DBacks, losing at least one game to each of those squads. Those three teams have a combined record of 13-24. They did play the Los Angeles Dodgers in a two-game series and were promptly swept.
— Houston Astros (@astros) August 6, 2020
The slow start against inferior competition has to be worrisome for Astros fans as the schedule is going to get much tougher in the second half. Houston has series upcoming against Oakland, San Diego, and the Dodgers again, and they need to find a way to take advantage of these soft early-season games and build up a lead in the division. In a 60-game sprint of a season, Houston can’t afford to keep giving away games to bad teams as heavy betting favorites.
Brandon Bielak (2-0 1.69 ERA)
Brandon Bielak isn’t a household name at this point, as he wasn’t a highly touted prospect coming out of college, he was taken in the 11th round back in 2017, and while he did have some success in the minors, it wasn’t anything that blew anybody’s doors off. He gets called up now for Houston as they look to find a way to fill a hole in the rotation with Gerrit Cole leaving in the offseason, and Justin Verlander going down with an injury. Ready or not, this is what your rotation looks like at the moment Houston fans, and you will be starting a guy tonight with zero career MLB starts.
Bielak has two MLB appearances under his belt, both coming in relief earlier this year, and he managed to pick up wins in both games. He has a 1.69 ERA and six strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched. Houston is hoping he can fare better today, than yesterday’s starter, Lance McCullers Jr, who got blasted for eight earned runs in game two.
This Arizona team has been quite disappointing. While most people didn’t expect them to really compete at the top of the division with the Padres and Dodgers in the NL West, most also didn’t expect them to be in last place, with one of the worst record in the National League. Unlike the Astros, who have played a soft schedule, Arizona has played a brutal schedule, with series against the Padres, Astros, and Dodgers, which makes me think that they aren’t out of it just yet, as the schedule will soften up a bit down the road.
[thinking good thoughts]
(it worked yesterday 🤞) pic.twitter.com/2zvOCKKMsv
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 6, 2020
The glaring issue for Arizona has been the pitching staff. Their team ERA is one of the worst in the game, and starters Robbie Ray and Madison Bumgarner, guys that were expected to lead the rotation, have been dreadful. Ray is 1-2 in three starts with a 9.45 ERA, and Bumgarner is 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA in his three starts. The one guy that has been the lone bright spot of the DBacks rotation this year, is tonight’s starter, Zach Gallen.
Zach Galen (0-0 2.70 ERA)
Zack Gallen is one of the most underrated pitchers in the National League right now. Nobody outside of Arizona knows his name, but this kid has quietly been very good for Arizona after being traded from the Miami Marlins last year at the trade deadline. Gallen has made ten career starts for Arizona and has a sub-three run ERA to show for it. His strikeout numbers have been elite, as his K/9 ratio is 11.4.
In 2020, he has been even better, as he has made two starts for the DBacks and in ten innings worked has allowed just three earned runs, with fifteen strikeouts, and the DBacks have won both games. To make those stats look even more impressive, he did that against the Dodgers and Padres, two of the best hitting teams in the game, and both times he won as a betting underdog.
Who Do I Like?
I think the best word to describe the Houston Astros right now is meh. Their starting pitching has been meh, their hitting has been inconsistent, and their bullpen has been awful. I know it is early in the season, so a lot of these stats can’t be trusted, but right now, the Astros seven pitchers on their team that have an ERA above seven runs.
I am a little surprised that the public hasn’t jumped on Houston in this game, as this is usually a spot where the public will move the line towards the higher-profile team. But the line has actually been moving towards Arizona all morning long, as the public and the sharps alike, all seem to be favoring the home field DBacks.
I hate to get on the same side as the general public, but I can see why they like Arizona tonight. Zach Gallen is a superstar waiting to happen, and I think that he continues with his recent run of success in this one.
Houston has run up the score on some bad starting pitching and weak bullpens, which makes their hitting stats look better than they should. But when they have faced solid pitching, like they will face tonight in Zach Gallen, they have struggled.
I think Gallen gets the DBacks six or seven strong innings, and I just can’t trust a rookie like Brandon Bielak on the road. Yeah, he has looked decent against the Angels and the Mariners, two teams that couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat, but we saw yesterday that if you don’t bring your best stuff against Arizona, they can light you up. Give me the Arizona DBacks tonight at even money at home in game three, as they send the Astros out of town with a series loss.