The Houston Astros were able to pick up the win in the opening game of the series and will be looking to win their third straight game tonight in Pittsburgh. We’ll preview the intriguing pitching matchup before going over why I’m targeting a first five innings bet in this one.
Houston has gotten off to a slower start than most people expected, but last night, they picked up their second straight win with solid performances on the mound by Framber Valdez and from their lineup. Valdez was able to throw seven innings while allowing just three hits and two runs while striking out five. Tonight they will turn to another one of their talented starting pitchers as Cristian Javier will take the mound.
Javier has made two starts up to this point in the season, and he has thrown 11 innings in total with a 3.27 ERA. The big right-hander was better in his most recent start of the year allowing just one run over six innings and striking out five. Only two hitters in the Pirates lineup have ever faced Javier, so he could pose as a tough matchup for them tonight.
The Pirates lineup has a .232 batting average this season and currently ranks 19th in the league in average runs per game, but they have struggled to produce over their past two. Pittsburgh has scored a combined three runs over the past two games, and they will need someone other than Bryan Reynolds to step up, especially in the absence of Oneil Cruz.
On the mound for the Pirates tonight will be one of their exciting young arms in, Mitch Keller, who has gotten off to a solid start to the season. In 11.7 innings, the young righty has a 3.86 ERA and 15 strikeouts and is fresh off his first win of the year over the Boston Red Sox. Keller has not faced the Astros in his career, as Mauricio Dubon is the only player on the Astros roster with plate appearances against him.
The F5 total for the game is currently set at 4.5, and I’ll be taking the under as my play in this one. I think both starting pitchers have an advantage today with their impressive stuff since the opposing lineup has not seen them live before, so I expect a low-scoring start.
Mitch Keller has been a tough guy for hitters to square up this season, as he already ranks in the 98th percentile in hard hit percentage this year. Additionally, Keller is also in the 81st percentile in strikeout percentage and 72nd percentile in xSLG, so I think Houston may have a tougher time getting started tonight. Keller is also a heavy ground ball pitcher at 57.1% and did not allow a run through the first five innings of his last start.
Javier is also tough to put rallies together against, as he is in the 99th percentile in chase rate and 61st percentile in barrel percentage. The right-hander has excellent command, so it will likely be tough for the struggling Pirates lineup to score multiple runs off him.
Under 4.5 F5