The last ten games for the Rangers and Pirates have gone drastically different, as Texas will enter this series off a sweep, and Pittsburgh will enter off a series loss. We’ll preview the game before going over which team I’ll be backing for the first five innings and for the entire game.
Pittsburgh’s struggles to score runs have been a large topic of conversation in the baseball world, and after scoring eight against the Tigers on Wednesday and 13 against the Diamondbacks on Friday, it looked like they might be heading back in the right direction. Unfortunately for Pirates fans, that was not the case, as the Pirates scored three runs in each of the series' final two games. In yesterday’s loss, Pittsburgh not only scored just three runs but also only had three total hits.
With the lack of offense, the Pirates will need to continue their reliance on their pitching, and today they will hand the ball to Luis Ortiz to make this third start. In eight innings, Ortiz has pitched to a 5.63 ERA with four strikeouts and five walks. The right-hander went just three innings in his most recent outing as he struck out three but allowed seven hits, four runs (three earned), and four walks.
Ortiz will face a tough matchup tonight, as he faces a Rangers lineup that scored 24 runs over their last two games and is 7-3 over their last ten games. In their 13-3 win yesterday, in which they secured a sweep over the Rockies, the Rangers had 13 hits, including four doubles and three home runs. Marcus Semien finished the game with two hits and three RBIs, bringing his total up to 38 on the year.
Texas will send Dane Dunning to the mound to make his fourth start. Since converting to a starter, Dunning has been highly impressive, allowing just three earned runs across 17 innings to go along with 12 strikeouts. This season, across starting and relieving, Dunning has thrown 37.3 innings and has a 1.69 ERA with 23 strikeouts and seven walks.
The Rangers F5 run line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-104), while their moneyline for the game is priced at (-136), and I’ll be backing them both ways. Texas is the most profitable F5 team in the MLB this season, and they are also 4-1 in their last five road games against a right-handed starter. I think Texas has the advantage on the mound and at the plate, so they can control the game from start to finish.
Texas has the 8th-best hard-hit percentage and 5th-best BAbip against right-handed pitching on the road, and they face a starter tonight with an expected ERA of 9.36. Ortiz has not been in the Majors for long this season, but his performances have not been encouraging, as he has a 48.6% hard-hit percentage and a strikeout percentage of just 9.1%.
Dane Dunning has been phenomenal this season, and he poses a tough matchup for a Pirates lineup that is 19th in wRC+ and wOBA against right-handed pitching at home this season. Dunning is in the 77th percentile in barrel percentage and has a groundball percentage of 51.4%, so I think he can provide a quality start while the Rangers' offense builds a lead.
Texas Rangers F5 (-.5)(-104)
Texas Rangers (-136)