Both the Astros and Marlins can secure their third straight series win by coming away with a victory tonight in the rubber game of their three-game set. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
Between the last game of their series with the Angels and the first game of this series with Miami, the Astros' offense uncharacteristically went missing. Scoring just one run in each game resulted in Houston losing back-to-back contests for the first time since July 26th and July 28th. Those scoring woes would not last long, with Houston’s daunting line-up putting six runs on the board last night in their 6-5 win. Three of the team’s eight hits came from home runs by Kyle Tucker, Yainer Diaz, and Chas McCormick.
With their offense seemingly back on track, Houston will hand the ball to Justin Verlander as they look to close out the series. Since returning to the club at the trade deadline, the veteran right-hander is 1-1 in two starts and is fresh off an outing against the Angels in which he allowed three earned runs over six innings while also racking up seven strikeouts.
Despite getting Verlander out of their division, the Marlins will still be gearing up to face him tonight, and based on the first two games of the series, they seem primed to do so. Miami has scored a combined ten runs in their first two games against Houston and tied them with eight hits last night in the loss. The Marlins knocked Astros starter Christian Javier out of the game after 4.2 innings but couldn’t find any success against the Houston bullpen.
Closing out the series on the bump for the Marlins will be left-hander Jesús Luzardo. The young starter has struggled over his last three outings, allowing four or more earned runs to be scored in each of them. In his most recent start, Luzardo was pulled from the game after 3.1 innings after he allowed seven earned runs on nine hits to the Yankees.
Houston is currently priced at (-115) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play. They may not have shown it in game one of this series, but the Astros have hit lefties well as of late, and the lefty they get tonight is amid the worst stretch of his season. Conversely, some of Miami’s advanced numbers show that Verlander could give them some trouble.
Dating back to July 16th, the Marlins' offense ranks 26th in wRC+ and wOBA and 25th in OPS against right-handed pitching at home. After finding success against a struggling starter in Christian Javier last night, they now have to take on Verlander, who is in the 82nd percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 75th percentile in xSLG, and 73rd percentile in xBA. Additionally, the Astros' bullpen has been highly successful in this series and has a 3.51 ERA over the past month.
Offensively for the Astros, they come into tonight ranked 7th in OPS and 6th in wRC+ against left-handed pitching on the road over the past month. With numbers like that, they are a daunting matchup for Luzardo, as he has a 5.53 FIP in the second half of the season while placing in the 32nd percentile in expected slugging percentage.
Houston Astros (-115)