Yesterday, the Houston Astros opened up as small favorites in their game against the Colorado Rockies, and by game time, the number moved a whopping 45 points towards Colorado. Everybody, sharps, and squares alike, jumped on the side of the Rockies, and I just didn’t understand why. The Astros had won seven straight games heading into play last night and were looking for a four-game sweep over the Rockies, with the unheralded, but uniquely talented, Cristian Javier on the mound.
And when you looked at Colorado, the Rockies had lost eight out of their previous ten games, and their hot start to the season was being exposed as the fluke I always knew that it was. Rockies starter German Marquez had been pitching well, and I assume that it why everyone backed Colorado, but I noted in my pick yesterday that this guy was allowing a lot of baserunners, and that if you play with fire against this powerful Astros lineup, you are going to get burned.
— Houston Astros (@astros) August 20, 2020
Can you smell that? That is the burning carcass of German Marquez, as he once again played with fire, and indeed got burned. Marquez continued his season-long trend of giving up a bunch of hits and walks, and as expected, the Astros made him pay for it. Marquez got blasted for ten runs, all earned, and the Rockies got blown out. Colorado scored some runs to tighten the game up late, but not before they fell behind 10-3, and the game was never really in doubt.
Thanks to the public, we got to back the Astros at a super juicy +130, rather than having to lay wood to back what I saw as the clear side to be on. There are few things that I like to do more in sports betting than fading the public, and last night it paid off in a big way. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will follow these red-hot Astros to San Diego, as they kick off a series with the Padres.
Houston Astros (15-10) at San Diego Padres (15-12)
The San Diego Padres are coming off of a grand series against the Texas Rangers, literally, as they became the first team in Major League Baseball history to hit a grand slam in four consecutive games, all of those coming against Texas, in a four-game sweep. There was a ton of controversy and media coverage surrounding game one against Texas, when Fernando Tatis Jr hit a grand slam late in the game, up seven runs. So, what did the Padres do in response? They followed the sage words of DJ Khalid and hit another one, and another one, and another one.
For Houston, the Astros come into this series on fire, as they have won eight straight games and have swept their last two opponents. After a disappointing start to the season, the Astros are making up ground in the American League West in a hurry, and now only trail the Oakland A’s by two and a half games for first place.
Starting tonight for the Astros is Lance McCullers Jr (2-1 5.47 ERA), and for the Padres, it is Garrett Richards (1-1 3.45 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. The Padres are small -110 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 PM PST from PETCO Park in San Diego.
The Houston Astros were really struggling early in the season. All it took to get things straightened out was a nice soft spot in the schedule, and just like that, the Astros look like the playoff team everyone expected them to be coming into the season. But you really have to wonder how much of this recent hot streak is them really figuring things out, and how much was the weak competition?
The Astros have played seven games against the Seattle Mariners, and three games against the Los Angeles Angels, winning eight out of those ten games. Those teams are a combined 16-37 with a run differential of -85. Houston also took two out of three games against the last place San Francisco Giants, and their recent four-game sweep comes over a Rockies team in freefall, that seems destined to drop out of playoff contention just as quickly as they found themselves in the postseason conversation.
Houston has played three series against what I would consider good teams, the A’s, Dodgers, and DBacks, and their combined record against those teams is a dismal 1-7. We have talked a lot about strength of schedule this year, as for the first time in MLB history, it is a major factor, and the Astros have taken full advantage of the weaker teams on their slate. But that might not help them tonight against a very talented San Diego Padres team.
Lance McCullers Jr (2-1 5.47 ERA)
Lance McCullers Jr missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery, and when he was declared healthy, Houston fans acted like he was going to come in and be a sufficient replacement for the dearly departed Gerrit Cole. McCullers was a much-hyped first-round draft pick back in 2010, but when you look back at his four-year career with the Astros, it is a bit underwhelming.
McCullers has a receptacle career ERA of 3.77 and strikes out a decent amount of guys, but he also walks way too many batters, has never pitched even 130 innings in a single season, and his career-high of wins in a year, is just ten. This year, McCullers hade one very good start against the Giants, when he pitched seven shutout innings, but besides that one start, has allowed 16 earned runs in 19.1 innings worked, while giving up 21 hits and walking 10.
San Diego Padres
The streakiest team in the Major Leagues this year is streaking once again. The Padres have been hot and cold all season long and had lost five straight games before crushing the Ranger’s souls in a four-game sweep in their last series. The Pads broke out the big bats against Texas and scored 34 runs in the four games and are now second in the majors in runs scored, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Garrett Richards (1-1 3.45 ERA)
Garrett Richards was a buy low, high upside gamble for the Padres, when they brought him in last season, knowing that he was going to miss basically the entire season. Richards had a solid eight-year stint with the LA Angels, before coming over to the Padres before the 2019 season. In LA, Richards almost always posted respectable numbers, when he was healthy, that is. Richards missed big chunks of action in 2016 and 2017 and hasn’t pitched a full season since 2015.
Richards is right back to being a serviceable middle of the rotation arm this year as he is finally healthy for San Diego. In five starts, Richards has a 3.45 ERA and has done a good job of working efficiently and keeping his pitch count down early in games. He has really turned it on recently as in his last two starts, coming against the Dodgers and the DBacks, two teams that can absolutely hit the baseball, he has pitched a combined thirteen innings and has allowed just three earned runs.
Who Do I Like?
This is a great matchup between two teams that very well could be a preview of the World Series. Neither of these teams are my current picks to win their respective league pennants, but both teams will be in the postseason, and we all know that in 2020, anything can happen. So, in a game between two good teams that are both playing well right now, where do I draw the line?
Starting pitching. Lance McCullers has been shaky with a capital S, so far this season. We already talked about the Astros weak schedule, and four out of five of McCullers starts have come against the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, and San Francisco Giants. In his lone starts against a team that can actually hit, the Arizona Diamondbacks, McCullers got blasted for eight earned runs in just 3.2 innings pitched.
And when you look at Garret Richards, this poor guy has only pitched against teams that can hit the baseball, with two starts against the Dodgers, two against Arizona, and one against the Rockies at Coors Field. And despite pitching against tough teams, in hitter-friendly ballparks, Richards still has a more than respectable ERA of just three and a half runs.
This line has slowly been moving towards the Padres all morning, as they actually open up as underdogs, and have now moved to small favorites. When I line shop this game, I see some -110’s and even some -120’s and -125’s.
Getting the right price for a game is always important, and you might have to shop around on this one a bit if you weren’t able to get it early, like I did. Jump on it now before the line moves eat up all of your value! Give me the San Diego Padres tonight as small home field favorites in game one against Houston!