Houston Astros at Texas Rangers – MLB Pick and Prediction for August 11th
It’s been a while since the baseball’s two representatives in the Lone Star State tangled, but the rivalry will be renewed this weekend in Arlington. The struggling Houston Astros, fresh off a sweep at the hands of baseball’s worst team, will lick their wounds and attempt to get back on track this weekend against the hated Texas Rangers.
Cole Hamels will take the mound for Texas opposite Astros right-hander Charlie Morton. Hamels still has name value, but he has regressed massively this season. The 6-1 record at 3.59 ERA look just fine, but his peripherals indicate that he’s no longer the ace the Rangers acquired two years ago.
Hamels is striking out just 5.59 hitters per nine innings, which is way down from where he’s been for the better part of the last decade. He’s still holding opposing batters to a .217 average, but his xFIP is a career-worst 4.64. Hamels is also allowing massive hard contact, as evidenced by a hard-hit rate of nearly 40 percent against right-handed hitters.
The Houston lineup has been slumping for the past few days, but they still boast potent right-handed sticks up-and-down the lineup. Carlos Correa is still injured, but George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and a host of other quality hitters populate the Astros’ lineup.
It’s going to be a warm evening in Texas, which means the ball should be flying. Hamels is not atrocious, but if he’s unable to miss bats at this stage of his career he’s going to struggle, especially pitching in an environment so conducive to power hitting.
On the flip side, we have Morton, who has quietly been one of the Astros’ most reliable starters so far this season. Few expected much of the veteran coming into 2017, but he’s been very strong. Walks have been something of a problem for him, but he has a K-rate of nearly 26% and a ground ball rate north of 51%.
Ground balls and strikeouts are what you want when you’re pitching in Arlington this time of year. Fortunately for Morton, the Rangers will be happy to strike out, too. Texas has plenty of power, but they also strike out nearly 24% of the time against righties. The Rangers will probably score a few runs off of Morton, but he should be able to give the Astros a minimum of five solid innings.
Both of these offenses are in prime spots, particularly Houston’s. Vegas tabbed this game with an implied total of 9.5, likely due to the name value of Hamels. We’re going to say that this will be one of the highest-scoring games of the night, however. We are going to hammer the over on that 9.5 in this one.
With the Astros’ struggles, we also like the Rangers’ chances as a +110 underdog on the moneyline. There isn’t massive profit potential there, but this does seem like a prime spot for the Rangers to pick up a win.