Astros vs. Rangers Odds, Picks & Predictions for Monday, July 3
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured (left to right). Jose Altuve, Jose Abreu and Alex Bregman.
Astros vs. Rangers Odds
Excluding the shortened 2020 season, the Houston Astros have won five straight AL West titles. However, it is currently the Texas Rangers who sit atop the division, with a four-game lead over their in-state rival.
The defending-champion Astros have dealt with a series of injuries throughout the first half of the season, which has caused a slow start to their title defense. They’re currently without superstar Yordan Alvarez (oblique), as well as World Series MVP Jeremy Pena (neck).
Looking to win their first division title since 2016, the Rangers have been lethal offensively. Houston, however, has taken two of the first three games and will try to close with a series win on Monday at Globe Life Field.
Below, I’ll preview and give my betting pick for Monday’s Astros vs. Rangers Lone Star Series finale.
Coming off a 2022 season in which he posted a 2.54 ERA, many experts pegged Cristian Javier as an AL Cy Young Award dark horse candidate. But 2023 has not gone exactly as planned, and he has taken a step back.
On the surface, Javier’s 7-1 record and 3.72 ERA aren’t terrible — but his 4.35 xERA is concerning. His strikeout rate has plummeted from 33.2% last season to just 21.8% this season. Javier is allowing more hard contact and his velocity has dropped a tad.
Javier showed troubling signs early in the season but was still delivering solid results — that's changed in June. Over his last five starts, Javier has allowed at least four runs in three of them and has a 5.79 ERA.
We are used to seeing the Astros offense near the top of most offensive categories. I can’t remember the last season they ranked outside of the top 10, but that is where they currently sit. Injuries have played a big part, especially the loss of Alvarez, but it appears that age has caught up to Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jose Abreu.
It’s clear that 2022 was an aberration for Martin Perez. The southpaw managed to post a 2.89 ERA with a career high in strikeouts in his age-31 season after eight consecutive years with an ERA north of 4.30.
This season, he has returned to his norm. Perez holds a 4.28 ERA with a 4.88 xERA through 16 starts. His strikeout rate has dropped from last year and ranks in the bottom 10% of the league. He has racked up more than five punchouts just twice all year.
A big reason for his success in 2022 was an increase in sinker usage — he generated groundballs over 50% of the time. This year, the sinker hasn't been the same and his cutter has been crushed.
Offensively, the Rangers have been at the top of the league throughout the first half. They have benefitted from the league's banning of the shift perhaps more than any other team. Texas has scored the most runs and ranks top three in wOBA and wRC+.
The Rangers will have nearly their entire lineup in Seattle for the All-Star Game. Catcher Jonah Heim, second baseman Marcus Semien, third baseman Josh Jung and shortstop Corey Seager were each named starters, while outfielder Adolis Garcia made the team as a reserve.
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Astros vs. Rangers Pick
Even without Alvarez in the lineup, the Astros have looked much better at the plate recently. They rank eighth in wRC+ over the last month, and fifth over the last two weeks. Houston is much better against left-handed pitching and will face Perez for the second time this season.
The Rangers lineup is full of All-Stars and have been crushing the ball all year.
Both starting pitchers have an xERA over 4.35 and should continue to struggle given they can't miss bats and allow hard contact.
These division rivals are plenty familiar with each other, and have seen the opposing pitcher many times and had success. Houston has a .335 xwOBA against Perez while Texas has a .311 xwOBA against Javier.
After great seasons in 2022, both pitchers have taken a big step back. I’ll fade them both and play the over in the series finale.
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