Thursday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Royals vs. Astros: Houston will Mash at Home (July 7)

Thursday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Royals vs. Astros: Houston will Mash at Home (July 7) article feature image

Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman

  • Kris Bubic and Justin Verlander take the mound as the Astros host the Royals.
  • The Astros are heavy favorites in this game, but the moneyline price is too steep to take.
  • D.J. James found another way to back Houston and shares his best bet below.

Royals vs. Astros Odds

Royals Odds+290
Astros Odds-38
Over/Under8 (-115 / -105)
Time2:10 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

As much as betting Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros against Kris Bubic and the Kansas City Royals looks like a sure thing, -345 is a bit steep. Verlander may be one of the American League leaders in ERA at 2.02, but he has been thriving off of good fortune with a 3.03 xERA, which is a good mark, but he will regress a bit eventually — especially since he's roughly league average in Exit Velocity.

Bubic is one of the worst pitchers in all of baseball. His peripherals rank in the bottom 25% of the league in nearly every category. The Astros also feast off of left-handers. In the past month, Houston owns a 156 team wRC+ off of southpaws. The next closest is the Yankees at 137. Houston is also slugging .536 in that timeframe, so expect some fireworks against Bubic and the Kansas City bullpen.

The only feasible play here is the team total over for the Astros.

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Kansas City Royals: How Will Pitching Staff Handle Astros Offense?

Bubic ranks in the sixth percentile in Hard-Hit Percentage and the fourth in xERA. His xERA (5.94) may be lower than his ERA of 7.06, but that is not saying much. He is also walking hitters 12.4% of the time. The Astros rank seventh in MLB in walks this season, so they will exploit this issue.

Now, Michael Brantley and Jason Castro are on the Injured List, but Houston has plenty talented hitters to throw at Bubic and the Royals bullpen. They have 10 batters on the roster who have a xwOBA over 320 over the past month. Yordan Álvarez, Kyle Tucker and Alex Bregman are all over .400, so expect some damage from them early on.

The Royals have also posted one of the worst bullpen performances of the past month. They own a team 4.79 xFIP, which ranks 29th in MLB. Jake Brentz and Josh Staumont are on the IL. Only Taylor Clarke and Scott Barlow have a sub-4.00 xFIP. This is concerning considering how well the Astros can hit both righties and lefties. Houston will hit the total over against the bullpen if they do not get the job done with Bubic in the game.

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Houston Astros: Will Verlander Spin Another Gem?

Verlander is not like Bubic at all and only has a 4.6% walk rate. Verlander is averaging an Exit Velocity of 88.5 mph, but the Royals have only been about league average against righties in the past month with a 100 wRC+. Bobby Witt, Jr. left Tuesday’s game with a hand injury and Salvador Pérez is on the IL, so the Royals are a bit short-staffed. Even still, they have seven bats with a .320+ xwOBA, so they will put together some decent plate appearances against Verlander. This is why the moneyline is too steep to buy in on the Astros.

That said, Houston’s bullpen has been phenomenal with a 3.30 xFIP. They do have a 11.1% walk rate in the past month, but they have enough arms to throw against the Royals.

Royals-Astros Pick

The Astros are the clear favorite for a reason, but the Royals have not been too bad against righties lately. Verlander is likely going to come out as the winner in this game, but the over on the team total for Houston is the right call. Take it from 5 (-115) to 6 (-110). Yes, this is a sizable team total, but the Houston lineup is worthy of it, even without Brantley or Castro. They could even hit the over against Bubic.

Pick: Houston Astros o5 (-115) | play to 6 (-110)

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