The top of the AL West division is crowded with three exciting teams that could end up winning it by the end of the season. Two of those teams will meet this weekend in Arlington as the Rangers will play host to the Astros for a big three-game set. We’ll preview the opening game of the series before going over why I’ll be targeting this team on the F5 run-line.
The Astros scored just one run in the opening game of their series with the Cardinals, yet they would go on to score a combined 24 runs over the next two games. Houston won both of those games to give them the series and a small win streak heading into tonight. In yesterday’s getaway game, the Astros scored 14 runs on 18 hits while holding the Cardinals scoreless for the day.
In their 14-0 win yesterday, JP France would give the Astros seven scoreless innings, and as the team turns their sites to this divisional series, they will be hoping for a similar outing from Ronel Blanco tonight. The young right-hander has made four starts since transitioning out of the bullpen, and he has struck out at least five hitters in each of those starts. Between starting and relieving, Blanco has thrown 35 innings and is sporting a 4.63 ERA.
The Rangers lineup that Blano will face tonight is coming off a disappointing series split with the Tigers, culminating with an 8-5 loss yesterday. Texas was able to outhit the Tigers but could not capitalize when they needed to, as they left 16 runners on base. Ezequiel Duran and Leody Tavares provided some of the offense with solo home runs, while soon-to-be All-Star starter Josh Jung knocked in his 48th run of the season.
Getting the ball for Texas tonight will be right-hander Jon Gray. The right-hander responded to his worst outing of the year by throwing five innings with one earned run allowed to the Yankees his last time on the mound. That outing was able to bring his ERA back down to 2.89 across his 81 innings of work.
No team in the MLB has been more profitable on the F5 run line than the Texas Rangers and with their run-line of (-.5) priced at (-109) tonight, I’ll be backing them to remain profitable. Texas holds the advantage in this spot for both hitting and pitching and while Houston is coming off a big series, they will not be able to exploit a struggling starter or bad bullpen like they did against St. Louis.
Since the start of June, the Astros are hitting .247 against right-handed pitching on the road, and now they’ll face a starter in Jon Gray, with a .192 batting average against this month. The Texas right-hander also has a 3.21 ERA or lower in four of the first five innings, and opponents are hitting .204 off him the first time through the lineup.
Not only does the Rangers' lineup rank 4th in wRC+ and 5th in OPS against right-handed pitching at home over the past month, but they faced Blanco earlier in the year when he was a reliever. In Blanco's two outings against Texas, he allowed five hits and four runs in three innings. Additionally, in the four games since Blanco has become a starter, he has not recorded a FIP for a start that is lower than 5.53.
Texas Rangers F5 (-.5)(-109)