The Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros get back on the diamond today, after the ‘Stros took care of business yesterday, a 6-1 win for the home team. The defending World Champion Astros are at the ready for another World Series run. There isn’t any reason to think otherwise, this team is still stacked to the ceiling. Other teams have gotten better, though, so there may be an extra roadblock in their way. If everything pans out correctly, an American League showdown between the Yankees and Astros appears realistic.
The Yankees needed a little extra added to the equation and they got that with Giancarlo Stanton. As we’ve seen in recent years, buying a championship doesn’t always work out so well, but it’s hard to argue that the Yanks aren’t going to be serious contenders. The Astros improved drastically towards the tail-end of last season. Notably, they went out and made a move by acquiring Justin Verlander. Verlander provided an immediate boost to the Astros and will continue to if he stays healthy.
This will be the second start for Verlander this season. He was given the first pitch in the season opener against the Texas Rangers on the road. It was more of the same for JV, as he was dazzling in the opener, allowing just 4 hits and no runs across 6 innings of work. The future hall of famer led the Astros to a 4-1 win and will look to duplicate that performance against the Orioles today. Mike Wright Jr. will counter for the O’s. Wright will be making his first start of the year, as he enters his fourth year in the majors. Head below for our free Orioles vs. Astros pick.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Houston Astros Pick
Mike Wright Jr. (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
There were times with the Tigers, later in his career there, that people were starting to believe Verlander was over the hill and washed up. I read several people talking about how he’s overrated. For everyone out there who believed that, he definitely took it and shoved it down their throats. Verlander was masterful with the Astros in five starts, posting an ERA of 1.06. He had a 3.82 ERA with the Tigers in 2017, so the trade to a contender helped him get some of the motivation back. He picked up right where he left off against the Rangers where he gave up no runs in a 4-1 victory.
Wright may want to ask for some tips from Verlander when he has the chance. After getting sent to the bullpen last season, following two abysmal years in the rotation, Wright didn’t do much to show improvements. He posted a 5.76 ERA out of the bullpen, compared to an ERA of 5.79 when he got 12 starts in 2016. This follows a 6.04 ERA in 2015.
The Orioles’ offense has been mystified by right-handed pitching thus far. They’re hitting righties at a clip of just 0.094. Now they get to have fun with one of the best right-handed pitchers in the majors. The O’s are not a good team, and they are going to show us why on more than a few occasions in 2018. The Astros should be able to pick up an easy win here if they want to show up and play. There isn’t much reason to believe Wright will stick around and compete against Verlander.