Things have not gone as planned for Astros ace Dallas Keuchel since the MLB All-Star break. The team’s top pitcher publicly vented about his franchise not doing enough on the trade block to improve the roster and since then he himself has had issues on the mound.
Keuchel’s struggles reached a boiling point his last time out, when the 29-year old southpaw coughed up 10 hits and 8 runs in just four innings against the Chicago White Sox.
That’s not a performance to write home about, but something just hasn’t been clicking for Keuchel every since he returned from a two-month layoff in late July. Since getting back to the rubber, Keuchel has given up 14 runs over three starts and has fired in just 7 total strikeouts.
The poor form for Keuchel has coincided with Houston hitting a mild wall offensively, with the Astros going just 2-8 over their last 10 contests. Is this all reason enough to abandon a team that is currently 71-44 and has a 13-game lead atop the AL West? It seems doubtful.
Eventually the Astros need to kick things back into high gear and Keuchel returning to form and their bats getting healthy are part of that. The return of masher George Springer three games ago was one piece to the puzzle and Keuchel delivering a strong performance on the road against the Rangers on Sunday night should be another.
Despite Houston’s elite track record and stacked talent, they are still mild favorites tonight. Should we snatch up the value here, back the Rangers or find another bet, entirely? Let’s break this matchup down to find out:
The value is obviously not through the roof here with the Astros, but it’s certainly not bad for a team with this much talent and upside. They are admittedly in a funk, but these are the spots where you often need to trust that the talent will win out.
Going on the road against the rival Rangers doesn’t make for an easy win, but the top MLB betting sites like BetOnline clearly don’t want to go hard one way or the other, and judging by this Total, they’re expecting some fireworks.
You could argue they might come off the hand of Keuchel, but he’s still working his way back to his old form. It’s not that insane to see him struggle on the road in his last start or in general, as he’d been off the dirt for two months.
Texas news Keuchel and Globe Life Park can be disastrous, but the good news is the Rangers are not an efficient bunch. Texas is not an elite unit against left-handed pitchers. The Rangers rank just 22nd in power against southpaws and boast the 24th best batting average against that pitcher handedness.
Further illustrating the Rangers’ struggles against lefties is their K numbers, as Texas has the 11th most strikeouts against southpaws on the year.
On top of the numbers that favor Keuchel, the recent history does, as well. Keuchel silence the Rangers in this very park back on June 2nd, holding them to 0 runs off of just three hits.
You could argue Keuchel is not in the form he needs to be to duplicate that performance, and maybe you’re right. Still, he could just as easily get bailed out by his elite offense, which gets a tasty matchup against the always beatable Andrew Cashner.
Cashner has been fairly solid on the year (7-8, 3.36 ERA), but he’s always had issues with hard contact and seems to have gotten lucky quite a bit in 2017. Cashner is still pitching in a problematic park and takes on arguably the best offense in baseball – one in which he’s posted a sheepish 0-3 record with a 6.19 ERA against in 2017 alone.
Houston has not been kind to Cashner and doesn’t figure to take it easy on him on Sunday, either. Adding fuel to the fire are Houston’s elite numbers against right-handed pitching, as the Stros rank 2nd in home runs and tops in batting average against that side of the plate this year.
Overall, the Astros just make sense here. Keuchel is going to snap back into his old form at some point and it only makes sense to have it come against the last team he thoroughly dominated – not to mention one he knows quite well. With the pedestrian Cashner waiting on the other side, it’s fair to assume the Astros might take care of business on the other end, regardless.