Los Angeles Dodgers at Houston Astros MLB Pick for July 29, 2020

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Astros vs Dodgers
Teams Runline Moneyline Total
Dodgers -1.5 (+115) -125 Over 10 (-110)
Astros +1.5 (-135) +115 Under 10 (-110)

Many expected fireworks when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros met on Tuesday night. The game was the first between the two since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Based on what we know now, it’s no real surprise that things got heated at Minute Maid Park for the first game of their two-game midweek series.

Reliever Joe Kelly, who wasn’t on either of these teams in 2017, got into a verbal fracas with Houston’s Carlos Correa that led to both dugouts and bullpens clearing. While no punches were thrown, it was a clear sign that there is still plenty of bad blood between the two sides nearly three years later.

The Dodgers wound up winning the game, 5-2, and LA will be looking to sweep their fellow super-team in the series finale on Wednesday night. Los Angeles will send right-hander Dustin May to the mound, while the Astros will counter with rookie Christian Javier. Javier, who made his Major League debut last week, will be making his first MLB start in this one.

May’s Second Start for LA

May got the last-minute start last Thursday for the Dodgers’ opener after Clayton Kershaw was scratched due to back trouble. The youngster was more than up to the challenge, as he wound up limiting the Giants to a run on seven hits with four strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work. He was limited to 60 pitches in that game in his first outing of the year. While we know Dave Roberts has a quick trigger when it comes to pulling his starters, one would imagine May will get a longer leash tonight if things go according to plan.

May should be stretched out enough to give LA 60 to 70 pitches in this one. The 22-year-old posted a 22.7 percent strikeout rate in 14 games with the Dodgers last season after coming up from Triple-A. His strikeout rate in the opener was 20 percent, but his stuff is good enough to where the K totals should continue to climb as his career progresses. May routinely touches 100 miles-an-hour with his fastball, and there’s at least a little bit of movement with all of his pitches.

One obvious issue for May tonight is that he’s facing an Astros lineup that ranks among the most potent in baseball. The Dodger pitching staff was able to keep the bats largely in check last night, but keeping them quiet twice in a row is a tall order. The Astros’ projected lineup for this game boasted a .231 ISO with a .361 wOBA against right-handed pitching in 2019. Both of those rank among the very best marks in the big leagues, while they struck out just 15.7 percent of the time.

Javier’s First MLB Start

As for Javier, he struck out one while allowing a hit in one inning of work last week against the lowly Mariners. Obviously, his work will be cut out for him tonight against a far more threatening Dodgers offense. Javier is one of the more decorated prospects left in the Astros’ system, so it should be fun to see a pair of young righties go at it in this game.

Javier had a massive 36.4 percent strikeout rate at the Triple-A level last season, which is right in line with his numbers from the lower levels of the minors, too. One issue for him has been control, however. Javier’s strikeout rates are impressive, but his walk rates have also routinely been north of 10 percent. Last year’s 9.1 percent mark at Triple-A was actually his lowest since rookie ball, which is clearly a concern.

Young pitchers struggle with control all the time, and those issues tend to be exacerbated once they reach the majors. Having to make your first start against Los Angeles is just cruel. While he is a prospect with plenty of pedigree, most quality starting-caliber big leaguers tend to project poorly against these hitters. The Dodgers had a .230 ISO with a .359 wOBA against righties last season, which puts them right on par with Houston’s numbers.

Dodgers vs Astros Pick

It’s easy to see why the Dodgers are favored. These teams are generally even, but LA has an advantage tonight when it comes to pitching. While May is young, he still has far more experience at this level than Javier. The Dodgers’ bullpen is also largely healthy, while Houston has an army of rookies in relief. Will Harris and Joe Smith are missing from last year’s Houston bullpen, while Ryan Pressly is dealing with an injury.

That said, we don’t get the opportunity to bet on the Astros as underdogs very often, let alone home underdogs. Home-field advantage may not be as pronounced these days with every team playing in front of empty home stadiums, but I can’t remember the last time the Astros were plus-money underdogs at Minute Maid Park. Remember, this team was a minus-money favorite to win the World Series when the postseason began last fall.

For that reason, I’m willing to take a shot on the value here. I think this game is more 50-50 than the current odds indicate. 66 percent of bets and 74 percent of the public money is coming in on the favored Dodgers here, but I think the Astros make for a better value at +115 on the moneyline. These offenses are very comparable, and there’s still a chance a talented pitcher like Javier comes out and gives LA trouble considering they’ve never seen him in the past.

Take the value that comes with betting on Houston as a rare home ‘dog on Wednesday night

Pick: Astros
Odds: +115
$100 Could Win You...$215

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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