Twins vs. Astros MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: How to Back Justin Verlander in this Starting Pitching Mismatch (Tuesday, August 23)

Twins vs. Astros MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: How to Back Justin Verlander in this Starting Pitching Mismatch (Tuesday, August 23) article feature image

Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Verlander

  • The Astros are huge home favorites in tonight's matchup with the Twins.
  • Justin Verlander takes the mound for Houston, while Minnesota will counter with Aaron Sanchez.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Twins vs. Astros Odds

Twins Odds+250
Astros Odds-300
Time8:10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

It's a matchup of two to the American League's best as the Minnesota Twins head to Houston for a three-game set with the Houston Astros. Every game matters for the Twins as they sit just two games out in a tight race for the AL Central title. However, they will have a tall task in front of them as they will have to defeat the ageless wonder, Justin Verlander.

As for the Astros, they'll need this matchup to set the tone. Houston enters this series after losing two out of three games in a rematch of last year's World Series. The Braves have proven to be one of the best teams in the National League and are a good barometer for where the Astros are at.

To this point, Houston has been the best team in the American League, but will have to keep proving itself against a hungry Minnesota club it could see in October. So what's the best way to play this potential playoff preview? Let's dive in to find out.

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Look for Verlander to Dominate Slumping Twins

The Twins are in the thick of a pennant race for a reason. They have a boatload of talent in their lineup and have been a top ten offensive team against right-handed pitching this season.

However, they come into this game after being swept by the Rangers, as their lineup has been cold over the past week. Over the last seven days, the Twins rank 18th wRC+ and 19th in wOBA. Unfortunately, those numbers will not get it done against Verlander.

Verlander is one of this generation's most accomplished right-handed pitchers, and this season has cemented his legacy. The 39-year-old has been absolutely dominant in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He'll enter this start with a 15-3 record, a 1.95 ERA, and a 0.88 WHIP.

What's made him so dominant is his impeccable fastball command and his ability to tunnel the rest of his arsenal off of it.

Verlander throws his fastball nearly 50 percent of the time, but it is the pitch with the lowest put-away percentage out of all of his pitches. His approach of throwing first-pitch strikes and getting ahead has been foolproof throughout his entire career and this season in particular.

His walk rate is among the top seven percent of the league, but his chase rate is also in the top 20 percent. However, Verlander only has a whiff rate that ranks in the 35th percentile. So we'll see him attack with fastballs early in the count and then tunnel his slider and curveball off of it.

Expect the Astros to Mash Aaron Sanchez

Aaron Sanchez's stint with the Twins has not gone swimmingly. Through seven starts, he has an 8.83 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. He has also only struck out 16 batters in 31 innings. He is not missing many bats, and a large majority of the contact has been very hard.

Sanchez has the worst average exit velocity and hard-hit rate in the majors. As a result, his expected batting average is in the bottom two percent of all qualified pitchers.

Those are not the type of numbers you would want to take against this Astros lineup. They rank eighth in hard-hit rate as a team and 13th in average exit velocity. That level of contact has made Houston top five in ISO and wRC+.

The Astros should have plenty of opportunities to do damage against Sanchez as he will be filling a spot in the Twins rotation, so they will need length out him. However, that need will likely leave him out to dry as this Astros lineup will give him no breaks.

Twins-Astros Pick

Houston is a heavy favorite in this matchup. The matchup on the mound is one of the most significant mismatches we have seen all season long. So while the total may be an option here, I've found an interesting way to back the Astros.

Since the Astros are likely to do their damage early against Sanchez, Verlander will be pitching with a lead for most of his outing. He has only gone fewer than six innings in three of his 22 starts this year, so he's essentially a lock to qualify for a decision.

So instead of taking the Astros' hefty moneyline, back Justin Verlander to pick up the win at a very nice discount.

Pick: Justin Verlander to Record a Win + 115

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