The Astros have gotten off to a bit of a slow start to the season, but they were able to get back on track a bit recently as they won their first series of the year of the Pirates. After a day off, Houston is now back in Minute Maid Park, and they will play host to the Texas Rangers tonight. We’ll preview the game before going over why I like the underdog in this one.
On Wednesday, the Texas Rangers had the opportunity to pick up a series sweep over the Royals and their fourth straight win, but they could not get the job done as they lost 10-1. The Rangers are still fifth in the league in average runs per game, but they will be without shortstop Corey Seager for a while as he was placed on the injured list before Wednesday’s game.
Texas will turn to lefty Martin Perez tonight as they look to get back in the win column. Perez is 1-1 through two starts this season, but he has produced solid numbers, with a 2.53 ERA in 10.7 innings. The lefty has also racked up 12 strikeouts and only three walks in that span, so all of the early signs point to him continuing to build off his breakout year from last season.
The Astros lineup that Perez will face tonight comes into the game with a .256 batting average, which ranks 11th in the league. In their most recent 7-0 win over the Pirates, Alex Bregman was able to homer for the second straight night, and Kyle Tucker was able to pick up his 13th RBI of the year.
Houston will have Luis Garcia on the mound for their first game back at home since April 5th. The righty has gotten off to a rough start this season, as he has thrown nine innings and, in that stretch, has a 7.00 ERA with eight strikeouts and five walks. Garcia may have struggled against the Twins in his last start, but tonight, he faces a Rangers team he was successful against last season. In one start against Texas in 2022, he threw six innings while striking out nine and allowing two earned runs.
The Texas Rangers come into tonight listed on the moneyline as (+142) underdogs, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Texas may be without Seager, but they still feature a solid lineup that should be able to get to the struggling Garcia tonight. Through his two starts this season, Garcia is in the 23rd percentile in barrel rate, 31st percentile in chase rate, and 13th percentile in expected slugging.
Garcia has thrown his cutter more than any other pitch this season at 42.4%, but opponents are hitting .273 against it. Additionally, Garcia has been allowing a heavy amount of line drives this season at 41.9%, which, mixed with his seventh-percentile fastball velocity, gives the Rangers an excellent opportunity to bounce back from their poor offensive performance on Wednesday.
Houston can hit the ball hard, there is no denying that, but Perez is a tough matchup for them, especially since he’s in the 89th percentile in average exit velocity allowed. The lefty made four starts against Houston last year, and three were very solid appearances. Outside of one start, Perez controlled the games he pitched against the Astros, and with the way he’s thrown to start the season, I expect that to be the case tonight.
Texas Rangers (+142)