While game cancellations have put a damper on what was supposed to be a Saturday full of Major League Baseball action, we still have a nice slate of games with 12 games being played this afternoon. We have several high profile rivalries on tap for today as the Yankees and the Red Sox clash in the American League East, the Dodgers and DBacks square off out west, and the Indians and Twins play with first place in the American League Central on the line. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Los Angeles for an AL West Divisional game between the Angels and the Houston Astros.
Houston Astros (4-3) at Los Angeles Angels (2-6)
The Los Angeles Angels are home tonight, against the Houston Astros, looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Halos have gotten off to a rough start to the season, as they hold the dubious distinction of having the worst record in the majors at 2-6. Los Angeles lost last night in game one of this three-game series with Houston, getting blasted for nine runs in the loss.
For Houston, the Astros haven’t been exactly gangbusters either, as they are just 4-3, and tied with the Seattle Mariners for the most wins in the American League West Division. Had you told Houston fans that after two weeks of play, they would have as many wins as Seattle, I am not sure they would be overly enthused.
Starting tonight for the Angels is Griffin Canning (0-1 5.79 ERA), and for the Astros, it is Zack Greinke (0-0 8.10 ERA). The Astros are -165 road favorites. The game total over/under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 PM PST from Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
The Houston Astros made headlines for all the wrong reasons this week when Los Angeles Dodgers reliever, Joe Kelly, did what all baseball fans outside of Texas have wanted to do the entire offseason, and that is, embarrass the Houston Astros. Kelly famously struck out, threw at, and mocked the Astros, and was slapped with an 8-game suspension for the tirade.
In suspending Joe Kelly, Major League Baseball made it clear that this shortened schedule is absolutely not a credible major league season. The World Series trophy the Astros won by cheating has as much legitimacy.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) July 30, 2020
It was an early-season reminder that Houston will be playing the role of villain in 2020 after their sign-stealing scandal. The hypocrisy for suspending Kelly for showing up the Astros and not suspending a single player for cheating to win the World Series has been on full display all week since the incident. Was Joe Kelly right for what he did? Maybe, maybe not. But did the Astros deserve it? Absolutely.
Zack Greinke (0-0 8.10 ERA)
What happened to Zack Greinke? When the Houston Astros brought Greinke over at the trade deadline last season, he was expected to be the missing piece to lead Houston to a World Series title. And in the regular season, he held up his end of the bargain, as he went 8-1 down the stretch for Houston. But since then, Greinke just hasn’t been the same guy.
In the playoffs, Greinke really struggled, posting an 0-2 record with a 4.68 ERA. Even when you look back on his 8-1 regular season with Houston, you can see that Greinke was prone to blowup starts as he allowed four runs or more, four times in his ten starts. The mighty Houston offense, that may or may not have still been stealing signs, did plenty to mask his struggles though, and we didn’t really catch on to how shaky he was looking, until after the fact.
This year started like last year ended for Greinke, as he was bad in his first start of the season. Against the lowly Seattle Mariners, Greinke gave up three runs on four hits and two walks in just three and a third innings of work. That is not the type of performance Houston was hoping for out of a guy they need to step up in a big way in 2020 after losing ace Gerrit Cole in the offseason.
Los Angeles Angels
When I did my preseason analysis of this Los Angeles Angels team, one thing stuck out to me the most, there are going to be a lot of runs scored in Angels games this year. The Angels loaded up on offense when they brought in Anthony Rendon from the World Series champion Washington Nationals, but they didn’t do much to address their biggest concern, their bad rotation, and awful bullpen.
I knew that for the Angels to win games this year, they were going to have to slug it out and find ways to win high scoring games. We have seen that premonition come true already this year, as the Angels have seen six of their eight games hit double-digit run totals.
Unfortunately for LA, despite being in the top ten in the majors in runs scored, and second in home runs, they haven’t been getting the best of these slugfests, as they are losing most of their games. The 12 home runs allowed by Angels pitching this season are the second-most in MLB, trailing only the Detroit Tigers.
Griffin Canning (0-1 5.79 ERA)
Griffin Canning got his first taste of big league action in 2019 and had his fair share of growing pains. He finished the season with a losing record and a 4.58 ERA in 18 appearances, 17 of which came as starts. He does a great job of striking guys out, as his K/9 ratio was 9.6, but he had a tendency to blow up at times, mostly because of his inability to keep baseballs from flying out of the ballpark.
In the first half last year before the All-Star break, Canning gave up 12 home runs in 11 games. He settled down in the second half of the year as he gave up just 2 home runs in his last seven starts, but his 14 total long balls allowed, in just over 90 innings pitched, was not good.
In his first start of 2020, Canning again struggled to keep the ball in the park, as he gave up three earned runs on four hits, one of which was indeed a home run, and two walks, and lasted just four and two-thirds of an inning and was charged with the loss for his efforts. If the Angels are going to cobble together a respectable pitching staff before all is said and done in 2020, they need Canning to find a way to pitch better than he has so far to start the season.
Who Do I Like?
One team you don’t want to be facing when you give up a lot of home runs is the Houston Astros. While Houston hasn’t broken out the big stick as of yet, they have just six bombs as a team right now, they have a very potent lineup. I expect them to break out tonight against Griffin Canning. You just can’t hold down guys like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley, and George Springer for too long.
The problem is, I just can’t trust Zack Greinke right now either. He has just too inconsistent right recently to want to back on the road as a big favorite. Even last year, when he was pitching well, he had issues with the Angels, as he allowed seventeen hits and seven runs, in two starts against LA in 2019.
I see this game coasting to the over tonight. Houston is going to find a way to get hard contact off Griffin Canning, and I don’t expect Greinke to be much better. Both of these teams can hammer the baseball, and I think both starters are out of the game before the sixth inning rolls around.
My gut tells me that the Astros find a way to win the game, but if the price isn’t right, I’m not making a play, and right now, with Houston as prohibitive favorites, I am staying away from taking a position on a side. So, I will take the higher value play and expect a bunch of runs to be scored tonight in the City of Angels. Give me the over nine runs tonight in game two!