With their loss yesterday, the Twins fell to 3-7 in their last ten games, and they now head on the road to Houston to start a three-game set. We’ll preview game one of this matchup before going over my play for the action.
The Houston Astros have played entirely opposite of Minnesota over their recent stretch as they are 8-2 over their past ten games and are fresh off a sweep over the Oakland A’s. Sweeping Oakland isn’t something many teams have struggled with this season, but Houston got to fly back home yesterday after outscoring the A’s 21-6 in the series and fresh off a win in which they hit seven home runs. Arguably the most notable home run was off the bat of Jose Abreu, who was able to leave the yard for the first time this season.
Houston will send young right-hander J.P. France to the mound tonight for his fifth career start. In 21 innings of work, France has pitched to a 3.43 ERA with 18 strikeouts and five walks. The right-hander struck out a career-high eight batters in his most recent outing, but he still took the loss despite allowing one earned run across 5 ⅔ innings.
France will face a struggling Minnesota Twins lineup that was shut out yesterday by the Blue Jays. Minnesota struck out 14 times in the game while managing just five hits, which was the second game in that series in which they had five hits and over ten strikeouts. Former Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa continued to struggle mightily this season as his 1-4 performance brought his average down to .216.
Minnesota will turn to their ace tonight as Sonny Gray gets the ball for the 11th time this season. The right-hander has been flat-out dominant, pitching to a 1.82 ERA over 54.3 innings, with 66 strikeouts and 21 walks. Gray struck out six in five innings during his last start, but his two earned runs landed him with a no-decision for the game.
The total for the first five innings is currently set at 4.5, and I’ll be taking the under as my play in this one. Not only is the under for the entire game 11-5-2 in the last 18 meetings between these two teams, but Minnesota is on the road and facing a righty which has been kryptonite for them as of late. At the same time, Houston will face a high-level starter for the first time in a few games as they come off a West Coast trip.
The Twins are ranked 27th in wRC+ and wOBA, 30th in BAbip, and have the third-highest strikeout percentage against right-handed pitching on the road. They now face a starter in J.P. France that is in the 64th percentile in hard-hit percentage and has a 30.5% CSW percentage. France also has a 2.45 ERA or lower in three of the first five innings.
Houston is 13th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching at home, but they have a tough matchup with Sonny Gray. The righty is in the 67th percentile in barrel percentage, 79th percentile in expected batting average, and has a CSW percentage of 30.1%. Gray also has a 1.80 ERA or lower in four of the first five innings and a 2.70 ERA the second time through the batting order.
F5 Under 4.5