Astros vs. Rangers Betting Odds, Preview: Value on the High Over/Under?

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Photo credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lance Lynn

Thursday Night Baseball Betting Odds: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers

  • Astros odds: -129
  • Rangers odds: +119
  • Over/Under: 10.5
  • Probable starters: Framber Valdez (3-4, 4.57 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.91 ERA)
  • First pitch: 8:05 p.m. ET on ESPN

Starting Pitchers

Houston Astros: Framber Valdez was roughed up for 11 runs over a combined 6.1 innings in his last two MLB starts on June 20 and June 26, so the Astros demoted the 25-year-old to Triple-A to right himself.

He responded with 10 strikeouts over 6.2 shutout innings in a win on July 1 and struck out another seven batters in three innings on July 6.

Standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 170 pounds, Valdez is short and stocky for an MLB starter, but he owns big velocity for a lefty (touches 96 mph) and generates groundballs and whiffs in abundance with the heavy sink on his two-seam fastball and his high-spin, late-breaking curveball:

That said, Valdez doesn’t have much beyond his four-seam fastball, two-seamer and curveball, as he uses his still-developing changeup less than 4% of the time.

However, this is almost as good of a matchup as Valdez could hope for. While the Rangers hit right-handed pitching well (103 wRC+, 12th), with their abundance of lefty power bats they are near the bottom of the league against left-handed pitching (80 wRC+, 26th) for the season and have been worse since the beginning of June (77 wRC+, 30th).

Texas Rangers: Lance Lynn leads the American League and ranks second among all MLB pitchers with 4.0 Wins Above Replacement in 2019 — bested only by Max Scherzer (5.5).

Charlie Morton (3.4) and Gerrit Cole (3.4) are tied for third place and make for an interesting point of comparison for Lynn.

Fielding independent pitching (FIP) holds the field relatively level, with Morton (2.84) besting Lynn (2.98) and Cole (3.00).

Cole has the best expected FIP, or xFIP (2.67) in baseball, which is half of a run better than Morton’s (3.16) and more than a run better than Lynn’s (3.84).

Lynn’s .286 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) is a 30-point improvement from 2018 but equates to an expected ERA (xERA) of about 3.77. Cole’s .258 xwOBA converts to an xERA of roughly 3.07, while Morton’s .265 xwOBA equates to about a 3.23 xERA.

Cole has struck out over 13 batters per nine innings (K/9), with a 5.67 strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio. Morton has an 11.34 K/9 with a 3.94 K/BB ratio. Lynn has just a 9.63 K/9 but a 4.73 K/BB ratio.

Cole has allowed 1.31 home runs per nine innings (HR/9) in 2019 on an 18.2% home run-to-flyball (HR/FB) rate. For his career, those marks stand at 0.84 and 10.8%, so he is due for some positive regression towards limiting longballs.

You might look at the low HR/9 rates for Lynn (0.78) and Morton (0.72) and think that they each are due for negative regression, but every player is different. Their career HR/9 rates are 0.79 and 0.76, respectively.

Lynn is walking fewer batters than he ever has before in his career (5.4%) and is allowing free passes half as frequently as he did in 2018. Part of that improvement is the result of increasing his first-pitch strike rate from 54% to 60% and his whiff rate from 10% to a career-high of 11.2%.

In Lynn, the Rangers have a bargain. His 2019 season alone has already paid off $31.8 million in production, compared to the three-year, $30 million contract that Lynn signed with Texas in the offseason. — Sean Zerillo


Bullpen Barometer

Both bullpens will be at full rest tonight after the All-Star Break, which is one of the reasons I hunt for unders the first day back after the ASB.

If this becomes a battle of the bullpens late, the Astros will have a distinct advantage. Houston just has superior relievers. And the numbers back that up: — Stuckey

Betting Trends to Know

The over/under between the Astros and Rangers is 11 with Lynn and Valdez on the mound for the first game of the second half. During the first half, games with an over/under of 10 or more were 134-106-6 (55.8%) to the over, going over the total by 1.2 runs per game. – Evan Abrams

Recreational gamblers love betting on elite teams (win rate of at least 60%). Oddsmakers understand this tendency and will inflate the lines for the top squads. Historically, it has been profitable to bet against elite teams, especially in division games during the second half of the season. The Rangers are a match for this betting strategy against the Astros. – John Ewing


Staff Favorite Bets

Collin Wilson: To echo Sean above, Valdez could not get a better situation in his call-up for this start in Arlington. Since the beginning of May, the Rangers have the highest strikeout rate of all MLB teams at 28.9% against left-handers. Expect a bump in Valdez’s K per 9 ratio of 8.14. Combine that with the Rangers’ low ranks in wRC+ and wOBA, and the price is justified on the Astros.

There aren’t too many players with lifetime success against Lynn. Alex Bregman, Josh Reddick and George Springer are a lifetime 0-for-13 against Lynn. In tonight’s only game on the MLB slate, I will be looking at the Astros and the under.

Sean Zerillo: My projection puts the first-five innings (F5) total at 5.36, with the Astros as a -124 F5 favorite. Over the full game, I show a total of 10.24, with the Astros as a -137 favorite. Therefore, I don’t see a ton of value on either side, but I would bet the under at 11, especially with both bullpens rested.

Stuckey: I like the under here for a few reasons:

  • The Rangers lineup is much more vulnerable against a southpaw starter: .712 OPS vs. lefties (24th in MLB) compared to .798 vs. righties (5th)
  • Lynn continues to be undervalued by the market. This is a pitcher who ranks second in the American League in Pitching War, trailing only his teammate, Mike Minor
  • And, as I mentioned above, fully-rested bullpens

I make the total a touch over 10, so I think under 10.5/11 is worth a bite.

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