I don’t know what the record for the most Major League Baseball games played in a single day is, but I do know that I am excited about today’s slate, as we have eighteen games scheduled! There are doubleheaders all over the schedule with the Twins and Tigers, Cubs and Reds, and Athletics and Astros, all playing two seven-inning games on an action-packed Saturday.
Other headlining games include a battle for New York, as the Mets play the suddenly slumping Yankees. The Padres and the Rockies match up out west in a game between two National League contenders, and the Braves and the Phillies square off in a National League East rivalry game. For our free daily betting pick, we will focus on game one of the double-dip between the Astros and the Athletics.
Oakland Athletics (22-10) at Houston Astros (17-14)
The Houston Astros host the Oakland Athletics today for a scheduled doubleheader to kick off a four-game series between the two American League West Divisional foes. The Astros come into this game on the most rest they are going to have all season long, as they haven’t played a game since Tuesday, as several of their games have been postponed. Houston had an eight-game winning streak going earlier this month, but have now lost four out of their last six games.
For Oakland, the Athletics have the best record in the American League, and their four and a half-game lead over the Astros in the division is the largest division lead in baseball. The A’s have lost just two series so far this season and have won ten out of their last fourteen games.
Starting for the Astros today in game one is Lance McCullers Jr (2-2 5.74 ERA), and for the A’s, it is Chris Bassitt (2-1 2.97 ERA). The game total over/under is set at six and a half runs. The Astros are -130 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
With the New York Yankees recently stumbling a bit, the Oakland A’s are quickly emerging as the team to beat in the American League this year. The Tampa Bay Rays, and the trio of contenders in the AL Central, might have something to say about that, but right now, the A’s have the best record in the League and seem destined to only get better as they have shown that they are going to be buyers in the trade market already, making the move to pick up Tommy La Stella from the Los Angeles Angels yesterday.
Oakland doesn’t have any glaring needs as their lineup is strong, they pitch well, and they play elite defense. But in a season that has been unpredictable, we have no idea what kind of talent is going to be available at the trade deadline, and for once, it looks like team president Billy Beane is going to be a buyer, not a seller, at the deadline, and that has to scare the rest of the American League contenders.
Chris Bassitt (2-1 2.97 ERA)
Chris Bassitt has very quietly turned into a reliable starter for the Oakland Athletics. Last year, he won double-digit games for the first time in his career, and in the last two seasons, his ERA was right around three and a half runs. This year, he has been even better, in six starts.
On the year, Bassitt has a sub-three run ERA, and the A’s are 4-2 when he starts. Against the Astros earlier this year, he dazzled when he tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits along the way. Bassitt doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he pitches to contact, which keeps his pitch count down. His efficient style on the mound has seen him pitch into the sixth inning or later in each of his last five starts.
The Houston Astros are missing a couple of their best bats right now. Alex Bregman has been out for over a week and Yordan Alverez has played just two games all season long. Both George Springer and Michael Brantley have been banged up and missed time as well. But despite not having all of their best guys on the field, the Astros are still one of the highest-scoring teams in the American League.
That offensive production tends to be very hot and cold for Houston, though, as they have had quite a few low scoring games and many high scoring affairs. All told, the Astros have scored three runs or fewer in a game in twelve out of their 31 games, which is fairly surprising considering they have the fourth most runs scored in the majors right now.
Lance McCullers Jr (2-2 5.74 ERA)
Another thing that has been very hot and cold for the Astros this year has been the pitching of Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery, and in his return to the field this year, he has been very inconsistent. McCullers has made a total of six starts this season. In three of those starts, he has pitched a combined 18.2 innings and has allowed just four earned runs. The Astros are 3-0 in those three games.
But in his other three starts, McCullers has gotten roughed up to the tune of sixteen earned runs in only 12.2 innings worked, and the Astros have lost two out of those three games. If you combined those games together, the results are underwhelming, as his ERA is 5.74 on the year.
The major issue for McCullers seems to be his inability to strike guys out. His career K/9 ratio coming into this season was over ten, right now, it is the lowest of his career at just 7.2. His strikeout to walk ratio is also the worst he has ever posted, at just above two Ks per walk. McCullers can be great if he strikes out a bunch of hitters, if he doesn’t, he tends to get lit up.
Who Do I Like?
I have faded Lance McCullers Jr a couple of times already this year, and cashed tickets both times. And I’ll be honest, I just don’t understand all the hype surrounding this kid. Yeah, he has decent swing and miss stuff, but he walks far too many batters, and against an Athletics team that is third in the Major Leagues in walks, that is going to burn him in this one.
It wouldn’t at all shock me to see the A’s hammer McCullers and run him out of this game early. Chriss Bassitt is never going to be a guy that will blow your hair back, but he is pitching well right now, and he shut this Astros team down when he faced them on August 7th. In that three-game series between the Astros and the A’s, Oakland swept the three games, with a combined score of 13-5.
The Houston Astros can’t beat good teams this year. When you look at their record against teams with a winning record, they have been awful. In series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, and San Diego Padres, the Astros are a combined 0-8. Against the Mariners, Angels, Rockies, Giants, and DBacks? They are 17-6.
I expect the Astros to continue to struggle against good teams and lose this game. They have a shot at salvaging one game of this doubleheader in game two, with their ace Zack Greinke on the mound, but I just can’t back the Astros against a quality team right now, as they have shown zero ability to compete with teams with a winning record.
So, I’ll fire on the Oakland A’s as fairly significant underdogs and shake my head and wonder what everyone Is seeing in the Astros in this game. The Athletics are the best team in the AL right now, and I think they show us that again today, in game one. Give me the Oakland Athletics today in game one of two, getting +120!