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Rangers vs. Astros Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can Gray Keep Pace With Verlander? (Saturday, May 21)

Rangers vs. Astros Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can Gray Keep Pace With Verlander? (Saturday, May 21) article feature image
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Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Jon Gray

  • The Astros are solid favorites at home tonight against the Rangers.
  • Justin Verlander takes the mound for Houston and will be opposed by Jon Gray.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Rangers vs. Astros Odds

Rangers Odds +176
Astros Odds -210
Over/Under 7.5 (-110 / -110)
Time 8:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The Astros and Rangers will write another chapter in their captivating series down in Texas on Saturday.

After splitting the first two, Texas will trot out Jon Gray opposite Justin Verlander hoping to secure a series split.

Is there any value to be found here on the underdog, or should we head for the total? Let’s take a closer look at this one.

Rangers’ Offense Hasn’t Been Up To Par

The Rangers have cooled down ever so slightly at the plate after their torrid run earlier this week. Texas entered the series on a four-game winning streak and had scored at least six runs in all of the wins before mustering up just four across the first two games of this series.

That’s what happens when you face Astros pitching.

On the whole, it hasn’t been a banner year at the plate for Texas after it went out and acquired Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and the story lately has been the same. The Rangers are 19th in wRC+ over the last two weeks, though their mark of 95 would only classify as slightly below the league average of 100.

They’ve struck out in 26.1% of plate appearances in that time which is second-worst, though they’re fourth in barrel rate. Any offense they’ve mustered up has been sporadic and inconsistent based on the high strikeout numbers coupled with the barrels.

Gray hasn’t been great this year, but he seems to be due for a little positive regression here. The veteran right-hander has struck out 24.5% of the batters he’s faced — which is 2.5% better than the league average — and his expected ERA of 3.84 jives with his 5.73 ERA.

Best of all, his barrel rate is back down under 7% as it was last year. Gray hasn’t exactly been dominant out there but he’s been much more effective than his line would indicate.

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Verlander As Advertised For Astros

Verlander has been every bit as good as you’d think. His strikeout rate may not be elite as it once was, but at 25.3% he’s still shoving. He’s allowed a very low .278 xwOBA on contact and a solid 2.67 ERA which makes his start very believable.

The 39-year-old has spun three scoreless starts in seven tries and enters this outing on the back of consecutive scoreless outings. He has gone 13 innings between the two starts, allowing just three hits and five walks while striking out 10. He’s also only allowed multiple runs in a start just twice.

The Astros have also been on a tear with a league-leading 140 wRC+ in the last two weeks and 71 runs scored in total, which ranks second in the bigs.

A quick look here, though, would have you questioning that just a bit. It’s not as if Houston hasn’t been good at the dish, but it is ninth in hard-hit rate and 11th in barrel rate in the last two weeks and 14th in contact rate.

The Astros have been able to get so many runs across thanks to 23 home runs in those 14 days, but they haven’t been making consistent contact or consistent quality contact. It would seem this power surge is due to end at some point.

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Rangers-Astros Pick

I believe in my heart of hearts that Gray and Verlander are both good pitchers, despite Gray’s erratic career and Verlander’s age.

The numbers would seem to back that up, and I’m cautiously optimistic that Gray can have enough success here against Houston to get us to the under. That’s based on his peripherals coupled with some of the numbers I touched on above with the Astros offense.

As for the Rangers? Well, we already know they haven’t been socking the ball and have fallen victim to Houston pitching. We should see more of the same in a low-scoring affair.

Pick: Under 7.5 (-105)

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