MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions: Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays Game 6 (Friday, Oct. 16th)

Credit:

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Carlos Correa.

  • After coming up with a pair of massive 4-3 wins in Games 4 and 5, the Houston Astros take on the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 on Friday. First pitch is set for 6:07 p.m.
  • Lefty Framber Valdez gets the nod for the Astros, while Blake Snell will start for the Rays, who are favored at -135.
  • BJ Cunningham breaks down how to bet Game 6 of the ALCS below.

Astros vs. Rays Game 6

Astros Odds +115 [BET NOW]
Rays Odds -135 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 8 (-105/-115) [BET NOW]
First Pitch 6:07 p.m. ET
TV TBS

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After a Carlos Correa walk-off home run in Game 5, the Astros have made this ALCS a series.

Houston finally was able to break through offensively and do just enough to beat the Rays 4-3 in both Games 4 and 5. Now they’ll turn to Game 1 stater Framber Valdez to try and extend the series to a seventh.

The Rays will also be going with their Game 1 starter in Blake Snell. Snell out-dueled Valdez in Game 1 by a 2-1 score, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Astros can put up a better performance offensively in Game 6.


Advanced Stats Glossary

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP  is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.

BaseRuns is a formula designed to estimate how many runs a team would be expected to score (or allow) given their underlying offensive (or defensive) performance. In other words, BaseRuns is a context-neutral run estimator used to evaluate teams. Major League average for an individual batter per game is 0.50 BaseRuns and a for a pitcher its 0.52 BaseRuns per inning.


Offensive Matchup

Houston Astros

The Astros’ offense exploded during the ALDS against the A’s, scoring 33 runs and hitting for a .345 average. However, they haven’t really struggled hitting the ball in this series, but they’ve left way too many men on base. Houston has outhit the Rays, 34-24, but has left 55 men on base this series.

Houston has also been below average against left-handed pitching, ranking 22nd in MLB in wOBA. However, I think the Astros’ red-hot hitting will continue against Blake Snell in Game 6.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay’s offense has cooled off the last two games of this series, posting a .212 average with just five extra base hits. The Rays crushed left-handed pitching during the regular season, accumulating a .343 wOBA and a 121 wRC+, so they are a difficult lineup to get through.

However, the Rays are an interesting team, due to the fact they rank 24th against sinkers, but tend to crush off-speed pitches. Valdez is mainly a sinker ball pitcher, and Tampa was only able to get four hits off of him in Game 1, so they could be in for another tough day at the plate in Game 6.

Starting Pitching Matchup

Framber Valdez vs. Blake Snell

2020 Stats (via Fangraphs)

Framber Valdez, LHP

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Framber Valdez has been Houston’s best pitcher this year. The 26-year-old lefty has posted a 3.57 ERA and a 2.94 xFIP. He’s been stellar so far in the playoffs as well, tossing 12 innings and only allowing two earned runs. In Game 1, he allowed only two runs on four hits and struck out eight batters. He did have issues with his control, walking four batters, so that is something he will have to clean up if the Astros are going to push this series to a seventh game.

Valdez is mainly a sinker ball guy, throwing the pitch over 50% of time. He’s been little suspect with it this year, allowing a .326 average and .338 wOBA to opponents this season. Where he’s really excelled is with his curveball, as it’s been responsible for 60 of his 76 strikeouts and is producing a 41.9% whiff rate.

The Rays have been pretty good against both lefties and curveballs this year, so Valdez will have to be on point with his sinker again in Game 6.

Blake Snell, LHP

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Snell has been a strikeout machine in 2020, posting a 11.34 K/9, which ranks 10th among MLB starters. That has led to an xFIP of 3.03, which is second on the team to Tyler Glasnow. Snell shut down the Astros in Game 1, allowing only one run on six hits.

Snell is predominately a fastball pitcher, but he’s been struggling with it this year. He averages just over 95 MPH with the heater, but his location has been off, allowing a .444 wOBA to opponents. In fact, eight of the 10 home runs that he’s surrendered have come against his fastball. That may become an issue against this Astros lineup that has been crushing fastballs during the postseason.

Snell’s secondary pitches have been nasty this year. His changeup, curveball and slider have combined to allow a .132 average to opponents and all are producing over a 30% whiff rate. He will have to utilize those secondary pitches more often in Game 6 if he’s going to shut down Houston’s red-hot offense.

Bullpen Matchup

The Astros went with a bullpen game in Game 5, so their relievers are stretched a little thin at the moment. Ryan Pressly, their best reliever, has pitched the last two nights, so he may only be available in a dire situation on Friday night. The rest of the Astros bullpen, however, has been pretty solid during this series, allowing seven runs in 18 innings.

Tampa Bay has one of the best bullpens in baseball coming into the postseason, collectively ranking second in ERA (3.37) and sixth in xFIP (4.16).  They’ve continued that into this series, allowing only five runs in 21 innings.

Projections and Pick

I think the Astros are undervalued in Game 6. Snell is obviously one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball, but the way Valdez has been pitching this year and how close this matchup was in Game 1, so that brings this line closer to a pick’em in my opinion.

I’ll root for chaos and take the Astros in Game 6 at +116, but I wouldn’t play it any higher than that.

The Pick: Astros +116

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