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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction Astros vs. Indians: What Number to Target for Saturday’s Total (July 3)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction Astros vs. Indians: What Number to Target for Saturday’s Total (July 3) article feature image

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Brantley.

  • The Houston Astros will look to continue their hot streak on Saturday when they take on the Cleveland Indians.
  • The Astros have been on an absolute roll of late, becoming one of the first five MLB teams to reach the 50-win mark this season.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down the game below and shares a betting pick and prediction based on his analysis.

Astros vs. Indians Odds

Astros Odds -167
Indians Odds +148
Over/Under 9.5 (-118 / -104)
Time 7:15 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings.

Saturday’s Houston-Cleveland matchup has drawn the attention of bettors and national TV stations alike, and you can catch the game on FOX at 7:15 p.m. ET.

The Astros have been rolling behind the league’s best offense. Meanwhile, Cleveland is just hoping to stay afloat through a sea of injury issues.

It’s near-impossible to find value on this game, but let’s take a dive into both sides nonetheless.

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Astros Continue to Pound the Baseball

The Astros are an elite team.

Fueled by a lineup that paces MLB in average (.275), OPS (.797) and wOBA (.344), Houston has won 21 of its last 30 contests. Five Astros starters own an OPS+ above 140.

They’ve been particularly hot since June started, when they batted .294 with a .869 OPS, good for a 141 wRC+. Behind this ridiculous offensive stretch, the Astros now lead their division and are one of just five MLB teams at 50 wins (Boston, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Los Angeles).

The pitching staff can seem spotty at times, but Houston’s starters and relievers have both been rather good. Over the past month, both the rotation (3.76) and the bullpen (3.94) rank 10th in FIP, while the staff ranks seventh in that stat (3.82) as a whole.

Personally, I believe the most valuable Astro this season has been Luis Garcia. In his first full season as a starter, the 24-year-old has put together quality start after quality start. The Astros may have lost Garcia’s first seven starts, but they’ve won seven of his last nine while he’s posted a 2.86 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.

Today’s starter hasn’t been too shabby either:

Starting pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (RHP)

Odorizzi is on a bit of a heater right now.

Over his last three starts, Odorizzi has tossed 14 innings while allowing zero earned runs on just four hits and two walks. Plus, he struck out 15 in those outings.

Due to a couple of awful starts in April, his ERA is still a bit inflated. However, his season-long WHIP is all the way down to .96, which is excellent, and he’s posted a 3.26 ERA and a .72 WHIP in four road starts this season.

The big problem with Odorizzi is he doesn’t pitch deep into games anymore. He has yet to pitch past 5.1 innings this season and has pitched less than five in five of his nine appearances.

However, given the Astros’ scorching hot lineup and relatively solid bullpen, one would expect that Odorizzi is doing exactly what Houston needs in the back half of the rotation. But that might not be true, given the Astros are just 4-5 in his starts this season.

At first glance, Odorizzi’s 90 mph average exit velocity and 17.4 degree average launch angle seem problematic; It seems like he’s giving up a lot of hard-hit fly balls. However, that’s what he’s always done, as his ground ball rate (32.2%) and home run rate (12.2% HR/FB) is average for his career. In fact, his stats this year are quite similar to his 2019 All-Star season.

Odorizzi throws his four-seam fastball more than 60% of the time, and teams are batting just .169 this season on it — something that seems to be a developing trend over the years:

However, Odorizzi has also posted a .221 BABIP, which should regress to his career average (.276) as the season goes on. Additionally, the xwOBA on his fastball (.312) is almost 100 points higher than the wOBA (.226) on the pitch.

I’m expecting some regression from Odorizzi as the season goes on. However, I’m not sure how much, because his xERA is actually lower than his actual ERA (3.84) while the projection market has his ERA and FIP finishing around the 4.30 mark.

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What to Expect From Cleveland

Cleveland is a quality organization.

The Indians’ all-world shortstop leaves in free agency, their ace gets hurt and they’re down six other starters, but they’ve found ways to win games and stay in the hunt. They remain five games over .500 and 3.5 games out of the second wild-card spot in the American League.

However, it seems that fatigue might start to be setting in.

Cleveland is 4-6 in its last 10 games, 10-10 in its last 20 and 15-15 in its last 30. Most recently, the Indians dropped series at Minnesota and at home to Detroit before getting smoked by Houston last night.

For all the Indians have done right this season, this recent stretch is concerning. Over the past two weeks, the Indians rank 25th in wRC+ (85), and they’ve posted just a .691 OPS in that stretch.

Plus, while Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac are hurt, the pitching in Cleveland has been lackluster. I’d expect more of the same today:

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Starting pitcher: Eli Morgan (RHP)

The rookie Morgan may have earned his first MLB win a few days ago, but he’s on the brink of being sent back to AAA Columbus.

Morgan has done his part while Bieber and Plesac have been hurt, but he definitely hasn’t done it well. He posted a 4.67 ERA in four AAA starts this year, and so far, has tallied a solid 9.37 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in four MLB starts this season.

Drafted in the eighth round of the 2017 draft out of Gonzaga, Morgan is a four-seam pitcher who mixes in a changeup and a slider. Everything moves very slow, as all of his pitches are below league-average in exit velocity — in fact, he tops out at just 90 mph on his fastball.

However, he’s shown a plus changeup at times (that pitch barely reaches 75 mph) and has good command.

Morgan allows a lot of fly balls, but given how soft he throws, those batted balls rarely left the park in the minors (approx. 7% HR/FB), and a decent amount resulted in pop flies. So far, that hasn’t translated at a higher level, given he’s already allowed six home runs in just 16.1 innings in the show.

However, Morgan showed a lot of promise in A+ and AA ball in 2019, even being named an EAS All-Star for the Akron RubberDucks that season. There’s still a lot of upside for the 25-year-old.

For now, Indians fans are just hoping he gets out of this start alive.

Astros-Indians Pick

I hate to say that I don’t see a lot of value on this game.

The Astros clearly have the Indians’ number lately, outscoring them, 13-5, in the first two games of this series, plus they’re just playing better baseball.

However, I think they’re clearly mispriced in this game. Odorizzi has too many question marks for the Astros to be a -160 favorite in this spot. Meanwhile, the Indians at +140 feels like a good number, but we have close to zero information on how to properly assess their young starter today.

Considering the pitching matchup, the over seems like a decent play, and it’s already drawn sharp money. However, at 10, that number feels a tad high as well.

If you can find a total listed at 9 (-120 or better) or 9.5 (-110 or better), I would feel very comfortable in making that play. Otherwise, this game is a stay-away from me.

Pick: Over 9.5 (-110 or better)

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