Houston Astros (0-0) at Texas Rangers (0-0)
|Date & Time||Thursday March 29, 2018, 3:33 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Texas Rangers +145 / Houston Astros -165 --- Over/Under: 10
We have an AL West showdown in the Lone Star State as the Houston Astros start their World Series title defense with game one of a four game set against the Texas Rangers.
The Houston Astros will look to build off a successful 2017 campaign, that saw the ‘Stros finish with 101 wins, the second-highest win total in franchise history for a .623 winning percentage and their first AL West division crown since joining the division in 2013. The Astros then took down Boston and the New York Yankees to win the AL Pennant before defeating the Dodgers in 7 games for the first World Series title in franchise history. The Astros mostly remain the same from last year’s team, with a season of high hopes, with a full season with Justin Verlander on the bump and the acquisition of former all-star starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates, in addition to lefty Dallas Keuchel, gives Houston one of the most lethal starting rotations in the majors. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer return to make up the top four of Houston’s batting order and Yuli Gurriel is expected to join the team soon after undergoing surgery on his left wrist. The aforementioned Verlander will start on opening day for Houston and was 15-8 with a 3.36 ERA and 219 strikeouts overall last season with a 5-0 record and 1.06 ERA after being traded to Houston. In his career, Verlander is 11-6 with a 3.02 ERA and 127 strikeouts against Texas.
The Texas Rangers will be looking to bounce back and get back into postseason position after finishing the 2017 season with a 78-84 record, 23 wins off of the pace from the division-winning Astros, and with the team’s lowest win total since 2014 and their 2nd lowest total since 2007. The Rangers didn’t make a ton of earth shattering moves, acquiring arms like Mike Minor, Matt Moore and Doug Fisher, but the most intriguing story for Texas this season will be the major league return of Tim Lincecum. Lincecum is expected not only to compete for time in the bullpen for the Rangers’, but potentially become the team’s closer down the stretch. The Rangers lost the services of Mike Napoli and Miguel Gonzalez to name a couple, but the biggest loss may be Andrew Cashner. Sure, Cashner didn’t light the world on fire with a .500 record, but he did post a 3.40 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, his best numbers since 2014, which doesn’t help a starting rotation that was lacking depth outside of team ace Cole Hamels and maybe Martin Perez. The Rangers return some of the usual suspects in the field, with guys like Delino DeShields, Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Rougned Odor coming back for Texas. Hamels will get the opening day start for Texas and was 11-6 with a 4.20 ERA and 105 strikeouts last season. In his career, Hamels is 7-4 with a 4.19 ERA and 97 strikeouts against Houston.
Houston is 9-1 in Verlander’s last 10 starts and 9-1 in their last 10 division matchups while the under is 4-1 in their last 5 road games. Texas is 22-10 in Hamels’ last 32 division starts and 2-8 in their last 10 games overall while the under is 4-1-1 in Hamels’ last 6 starts overall. Texas is 5-1 in Hamels’ last 6 starts against Houston.
Texas has had a lot of recent success against the Astros with their ace on the mound. However, there’s no way I’m going against Houston in this one. Verlander has had success of his own against Texas in his career, and was nothing but money when he took the mound for the Astros last season. not to mention that the Astros are pretty much bringing back the entire lineup from last season. Plus, the Astros will be feeling like they have to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke and while Texas will be out for blood against a division rival, I think that Houston draws first blood with a win on Opening Day in this one.