By Drew Modjeski
In case you forgot, the Astros are a damn good baseball team. The Astros pulled out a close highly contested contest with the Mariners last night by a score of 21-1. This matchup with the A’s has a chance to be an ALDS matchup, so it will be interesting to see how the A’s play against the best team in the MLB.
Money Line- Oakland Athletics +170, Houston Astros -180
Run Line- Oakland Athletics +1.5 (-139), Houston Astros -1.5 (+112)
Over/Under- -.5 (O +100, U -120)
First Pitch- 7:10 p.m. CST. Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Like I said in this week’s AL Power Rankings, Mike Fiers has been the MVP for this Athletics team this season. When Frankie Montas went out due to suspension, Fiers stepped up and became the ace of this team. Fiers has been the A’s best pitcher down the stretch but facing off against the Astros is a tough task no matter who is on the mound. Fiers has been hit or miss against the Astros this season as he has faced them four times before Monday’s contest. His last start against them, which took place in Oakland, resulted in a win for the A’s even though Fiers let up five earned runs over six innings of work. Not the best outing for Fiers, but the start before that one, Fiers went into Houston and dominated. He pitched seven and two thirds letting up only two earned runs in another Athletics win. So, it is hard to gauge which Fiers we will see out there on the mound on Monday.
As a team, the Athletics have had a hard time facing off against the Astros this season, but who doesn’t. In their 15 games against each other so far, the Astros hold the series lead 10-5. They will need to better against them this series as this is a test to see if the Athletics are really contenders this season.
Isn’t it crazy that Zack Greinke has the fourth best ERA of the Astros starters but it is still only at 3.86. That is just a testament to how good the Astros pitching staff has been this year. This is going to be Greinke’s seventh start with the Astros and it has gone alright so far. He started off his tenure with four straight quality starts but has followed that up with nine earned runs in his last two games, both which resulted in losses. Luckily for Grienke, the A’s hitters don’t have much experience against him, as for the whole team, they have just 58 career AB’s against him, and Stephen Piscotty is the only one with double digit AB’s. It will take them a while to try and figure out Grienke which works in his favor.
As you most likely already know, the Astros are damn good at hitting the ball. They rank first in the AL in BA, OBP and OPS and second in the AL in SLG. The only offensive category they don’t rank in the top half of the AL in is stolen bases, but who steals bases anymore. They are even scarier at home as they slash .283/.363/.503 with an OPS of .866 at home compared to .267/.342/.476 with an .818 OPS on the road. Any team trying to win in Houston is going to have a tough time.
Analysis and Prediction
I want to put my faith in Mike Fiers to pull off the upset, but the Astros are just too good. Take them on the money line at -180. Grienke is due for a bounce back game, and even if he does bad again, the Astros hitters should be able to back him up.