Astros vs Marlins Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Monday, August 14
Photo by Jasen Vinlove/Miami Marlins/Getty Images. Pictured: Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Astros vs. Marlins Odds
The Astros, the defending World Series champions, have won the American League West in each of the last five full seasons. This year, however, they have not held the division lead for a single day.
They got within a half-game at the start of August and are 2.5 games back entering Monday as they continue to chase the Rangers. They’ve got a good hold of one of the Wild Card spots, but the Astros probably want to win the division again.
Considered a rebuilding team by many, the Marlins find themselves in Wild Card position as well. Miami struggled coming out of the All-Star break but found some confidence by taking two of three games against the Yankees.
No team comes into Monday night on more of a high than the Marlins. Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday against the Yankees, Miami trailed 7-3. The Fish rallied to pull off a miraculous comeback, scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Will the Marlins be able to ride that momentum into a new series on Monday? Below, I’ll break down my pick for the Astros vs. Marlins series opener at loanDepot Park.
Over the past few years, Framber Valdez has quietly become one of the best pitchers in the league. He's been named an All-Star in back-to-back seasons and has received Cy Young votes in two of the last three years — and certainly will again this year.
Through 22 starts, Valdez has amassed a 3.30 ERA, which is right around where he's been over the past few seasons. However, his 4.05 xERA is his highest since 2019 (4.57).
Valdez is a ground-ball pitcher, which makes some of his advanced metrics harder to gauge. He is fourth in the league with a 54.3% ground-ball rate. He’s a pitcher who is above league average in strikeouts and ranks in the bottom 8% in hard-hit rate and average exit velocity.
For most pitchers, that would be a major concern. But when more than half of his balls in play are on the ground, allowing hard contact does not do as much damage as it might to other pitchers. His barrel rate and average exit velocity are the highest of his career.
Injuries have hampered the Astros offense, but their usually lethal unit is climbing back up the rankings. Houston is up to ninth in wRC+, thanks in large part to the return of Yordan Alvarez.
Arguably the league’s best pure hitter, Alvarez has played in just 73 games this season, but he already has four home runs and nine RBI in 16 games since returning.
A former first-round draft pick and the organization’s No. 1 prospect in 2017, Braxton Garrett has not quite lived up to lofty expectations. After making his Major League debut in 2020, he's bounced between the Majors and Triple-A over the last three seasons.
This has been his first full season in the big leagues, and to this point, he has a 4.08 ERA through 23 appearances. His performance has been up and down as he's struggled to maintain consistency.
Garrett posted a 2.45 ERA in April, slid to 5.46 in May, bounced back to 2.22 in June and then once again struggled to a 5.92 in July.
Similar to his Astros counterpart, Garrett looks to generate ground balls. He throws mostly a sinker-slider-cutter combination and has nearly a 50% ground-ball rate. He ranks in the bottom 5% in hard-hit rate.
Offensively, the Marlins made two deadline acquisitions — Josh Bell and Jake Burger — to bolster their lineup. Both are batting over .310 with an OPS above .870 since joining Miami. Burger came up huge with the walk-off hit against the Yankees on Sunday.
Astros vs. Marlins
Betting Pick & Prediction
Valdez and Garrett have not been all that different this season. They both generate ground balls at an above-average rate, with half the balls put in play against them winding up on the ground. This helps limit damage given they allow hard contact at an alarming rate.
Let’s do a blind test. Below are screenshots of their Baseball Savant pages:
As you can see, they are pretty similar. (In case you couldn't figure it out, Garrett is the first image, Valdez the second.)
Obviously, Valdez is more established and the better pitcher. But Garrett is a former top prospect, and I don’t believe the gap between the two is as large as this line implies. Valdez has really struggled recently, allowing at least four runs in five of his last seven starts.
Houston is undoubtedly the better team offensively. Garrett, though, has been much better against left-handed hitters. Lefties have just a .293 wOBA and Garrett has a 2.63 xFIP and 52.8% ground-ball rate. The Astros' two best hitters — Alvarez and Kyle Tucker — are both lefty, giving Garrett a better chance to neutralize them.
The Marlins have been led by Luis Arraez and Jorge Soler for most of the season, but now they have more help. Burger and Bell have made an instant impact, and superstar Jazz Chisholm recently returned from injury.
Miami is rightfully the underdog on Monday, but this number is a little too high.
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