The Houston Astros looked like they were destined to lose their first game in 12 games. However, all they needed is to lead in one inning to come out with another win and move to 12-0 in their last twelve games. It was with one swing of the bat by Alex Bregman to deliver a walk-off win for the Astros. The Astros may have more competition in the American League than last season. They didn’t have to deal with this good of a Yankees or Red Sox team a year ago, but if they keep playing like this, it’s not going to matter. Dynamite pitching, like the Astros possess, trumps offensive teams in the postseason any day of the week. Postseason is all about who has the better pitching staff, and which one doesn’t go off the rails. The addition of Justin Verlander to the Astros last season is a reflection of that.
Verlander helped the Astros win a World Series in 2017, and he’s on pace to repeating. However, the Astros are going to have Verlander for the entire regular season this year. Not only is he on pace to helping the Astros win back-to-back championships, but he’s also looking at another Cy Young. Verlander won the Cy Young in 2011. He posted an ERA of 2.40 that season, so he’s looking at an even better year if he keeps it going. In his limited time with the Astros in 2017, he posted an ERA of 1.06 in five starts. Also note the experience that he brought to the Astros’ rotation. He had already been to the World Series with the Tigers before, so it wasn’t anything new. Verlander will get the call on Tuesday, while the Rays will counter with Blake Snell, who has been impressive in his own right this year. For our free Rays vs. Astros pick head below.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros
Blake Snell (8-4, 2.58 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (9-2, 1.61 ERA)
Verlander has been just about perfect this year, but he’s proven to be human in his last few starts. JV has allowed 3 runs in each of his last two starts. In his last three outings combined, he posted an ERA of 3.79. Don’t get it wrong, that isn’t bad, but just not as sharp as he’s been this season. In nearly every other game it’s been auto-out innings for Verlander. The Astros were able to still win convincingly by scores of 7-3.
He enters with an ERA of 1.93 and 0.64 WHIP at home. With an OBA of .185, he is putting almost no one on the bases. In 55 at-bats, the Rays have yet to hit a long ball on Verlander. They are hitting .182 with just 2 hits for extra bases. The only thing that has gotten to Verlander is allowing home runs, so the Rays may want to learn how to hit 1 or 2 off him, but they’ve come up empty in the past.
Blake Snell will start opposite of Verlander on Tuesday. Snell has been solid for the Rays, with an ERA of 2.58. However, his numbers fall to a 3.78 ERA on the road. Further, the Astros are not going to feel scared by Snell on the bump. They are hitting lefties at a clip of .280.
The ‘Stros have hit Snell well in the past, nailing him good with an overall team batting average of .391 in 46 at-bats. There are five hitters in the Astros lineup that have hit him for at least .500. Jose Altuve isn’t far behind to being added to that last, as he’s hit Snell for a .429. Altuve has also added 2 long balls to his resume against Snell. I would ride with Verlander and the Astros to win their 13th in a row on Tuesday. They won’t need any 9th inning heroics for this one.