Friday’s MLB Over/Under: Motivated Mike Fiers Returns to Houston

Credit:

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel

  • Mike Fiers makes his return to Minute Maid Park after being left off the Astros playoff roster last season.
  • Houston starter Dallas Keuchel has been in a groove, as well, posting four quality starts in his last five outings.
  • Those are two reasons to look at the under in tonight's Astros-Tigers game.

We’re at the last weekend before the MLB All-Star break, and despite last night’s disappointing Nationals-Mets Under 7 loss, it’s still been a good week. Let’s try to keep it that way with this Friday night over/under.

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record: 61-39-3, +17.95 units

Yesterday’s Result: Nationals-Mets Under 7, Scherzer vs. Matz (loss)

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

Detroit Tigers @ Houston Astros | O/U: 8.5

8:10 p.m. ET

Probable Pitchers: Mike Fiers (6-5, 3.65 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (6-8, 3.95 ERA)

This start marks Fiers’ return to Houston. And after he was left off the Astros’ postseason roster before their World Series run, it may be impossible for him to be any more fired up in his first start back at Minute Maid Park.

Fiers posted solid numbers during his two years and change with the Astros, which is expected considering his distinct home-and-road splits throughout his career. He’s always been much better at home.

Even though Fiers will be on the road for this particular assignment, his comfort pitching at Minute Maid could prove useful, as he has made 35 starts there, going 10-10 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 204.1 innings — basically a full season’s workload. Opposing hitters have managed just a .246 batting average.

We wouldn’t mind something in line with those numbers considering the over/under has settled in at 8.5 for this matchup, and the 33-year-old’s roll as of late could assist in such an effort. After all, Fiers has allowed exactly one run in each of his last three starts, spanning 21 innings. He’s also yielded just one long ball over that span, and with this peak in confidence, Fiers may have enough firepower to keep the hard-hitting Astros at bay.

 

Keuchel certainly knows something about stellar pitching in Houston. In fact, like his counterpart tonight, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner has been much better in his career at home than on the road, owning a 3.09 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 573 career innings at Minute Maid Park — the only baseball venue he’s ever known to be home. That easily bests the 4.31 ERA and 1.36 WHIP he’s produced in his away outings.

Strangely, for only the second time since first being called up in 2012, Keuchel has actually logged better numbers on the road this season up to this point, with a 3.43 ERA compared to an uncharacteristic 4.50 ERA at Minute Maid, but don’t expect that to continue. At the very least, those splits should begin to start returning to their norm, something that points to an improved showing for Keuchel at home.

As it is, the 30-year-old southpaw enters this evening’s game in a nice groove, with four quality starts in his last five outings. The last two have each seen Keuchel record seven sharp innings. Clearly, he’s in a rhythm.

With one start left on the slate for both these starters, and the extra incentive each has to enter the break on a high note, you can bet on both Fiers and Keuchel delivering some quality pitching to help keep this game under.

Play: UNDER 8.5 (-115)


Editor’s note: The opinion on this game is from the individual writer and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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