Giants at Astros – MLB Pick for May 22nd
The Astros and Giants used to see a lot more of each other. These teams used to be in the National League West together, but now that the Astros are in the AL, San Francisco and Houston rarely go toe-to-toe. Most eyes in both cities will be on tonight’s NBA tilt between the Warriors and Rockets in Oakland, but the Giants and ‘Stros will begin a midweek series in Houston tonight, as well.
Gerrit Cole, who has arguably been the most dominant starter in the majors, will take the ball for Houston tonight. Through his first 9 starts, Cole is 4-1 with a 1.75 ERA and a WHIP of 0.79. He’s coming off his “worst” start of the season, but it was still a decent one overall. Cole conceded 3 runs on 5 hits, including a couple of homers, while striking out 7 in 5 innings against the Angels lsat week.
Cole’s strikeout numbers this season are eye-popping. He’s striking out a whopping 13.57 hitters per 9 innings pitched, and his K-rate is a league-best 40.8 percent thus far. He’s allowing a little too much hard contact (36.1 percent), but pitchers that can throw 100 miles-per-hour typically give up more hard contact than others.
The right-hander allowed 31 homers last year, and he’s shown an extreme fly ball lean in the early going. He’s allowed a fly ball rate of 47 percent compared to a ground ball rate under 30 percent. A fly ball rate that high is going to lead to some home runs against him. Still, Cole’s numbers so far this season are off the charts.
The Giants will be countering with rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez. Suarez has been solid early in his career. His 3.32 SIERA is far better than his 4.88 ERA, and he’s posted a strong strikeout rate of 25 percent. The lefty has also kept walks to a minimum (4.5 percent).
One issue for Suarez through 5 starts has been power. He’s already yielded 6 homers, including multiple dingers in 2 of those outings. Suarez has also stifled his fellow lefties (.212 wOBA allowed), while righties have been crushing him. He’s allowed a .426 wOBA to righties, will all 6 home runs against him having come off the bats of right-handed hitters.
The Astros haven’t been as great offensively so far as we saw last season, but they still have a lineup full of potent hitters that swing it from the right side. The star quartet of George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa speaks for itself. Evan Gattis is another guy that has raked left-handed pitching over the course of his career.
It’s tough to pick on Cole, but the Giants’ offense is improved from the one we saw last year. They’re striking out more, but the additions of Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria have improved the punch in the lineup. Brandon Belt is in the midst of a career year, while Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford are each hitting over .300. They’re sneaky with the bats.
The implied total of 7 ½ here just looks too low. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros topped that mark by themselves here, but I do think the Giants can score a run or two against Cole. Minute Maid Park’s status as a hitter-friendly park is overstated, but I still like the over in this game.
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