Angels at Astros MLB Pick for September 21
Thursday wasn’t a great day for the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels wrapped up their 3-game midweek series in Oakland by getting absolutely curb-stomped by the Athletics by the score of 21-3. That defeat came on the heels of a 10-0 loss on Wednesday. The Halos are essentially playing out the string at this point, just whittling down the days until the end of the season in a little over a week. In the meantime they can try and play spoiler, however. The A’s are just 3 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West, and the Angels will be heading to Houston for a 3-game weekend series starting tonight at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros just dropped 2 of 3 at home against the Mariners, so they aren’t entirely out of the woods yet. The Astros are a mortal lock to qualify for the playoffs at this point, but they obviously want to avoid the Wild Card Game at all costs. Appearing in the one-game playoff would likely mean a date with the New York Yankees, which isn’t ideal. Houston is still in the driver’s seat, but they can’t afford to be dropping games in the last week of the season.
Both teams will be looking to get back on track tonight. Ace Gerrit Cole will climb the mound for the Astros in this one, and he’ll be opposed by Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney.
Cole has been dynamite for the Astros in his first season in Houston, though the team has been careful with his workload of late. Cole hasn’t pitched into the seventh inning in any outing since August 10 against the Rockies, and he failed to crack the 100-pitch plateau in either of his last two starts. The right-hander has been racking up the strikeouts by the truckload this season, as evidenced by his career-best strikeout rate of 34.7 percent. Cole will occasionally get himself into trouble with walks, but his huge strikeout numbers have helped him get out of jams for the most part.
Cole’s 2.93 SIERA validates his 2.88 ERA. He has also been better about limiting home runs this season. Cole was taken deep 31 times last season as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and so far this season he has conceded just 18 homers in 30 starts. His fly ball lean can be problematic at times with the short porch in left field at Minute Maid Park, but this ballpark is more pitcher-friendly these days. Cole also has a 3.57 ERA with 24 strikeouts across 3 starts against the Angels so far this season.
As for Heaney, he has been one of the bright spots in the L.A. rotation. The southpaw is 9-9 with a tidy 3.97 ERA on the season. His SIERA of 3.78 is even better, which shows there’s been a bit of bad luck involved in that ERA just under 4.00. Heaney has a strikeout rate of 23.4 percent, but he has also allowed a hard contact rate over 38 percent, which is a bit higher than he’d like.
Heaney has also allowed 23 homers across his 28 starts. Interestingly enough, all 23 of those dingers have come off the bats of right-handed hitters. The Astros have a stacked lineup, and it just so happens that most of them are right-handed. George Springer, Carlos Correa, Tyler White, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman lining up against him consecutively figures to present a daunting task for Heaney. The left-hander has allowed a .322 wOBA this season against right-handed bats compared to a .240 mark against lefties.
Most sportsbooks have the Astros pretty heavily favored here, and with good reason. They have one of their aces on the hill, and they’re at home. While Heaney is a solid pitcher in his own right, this particular matchup doesn’t bode all that well for him. There’s a good chance he’ll be going up against at least 8 right-handed hitters tonight, and most of them are quality bats.
I like the Astros on the runline here. Take Houston to cover the 1 1/2 runs at -110.
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