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MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Yankees vs. Astros, Game 1: Bet on Houston to Start Second Half Strong (Thursday, July 21)

MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Yankees vs. Astros, Game 1: Bet on Houston to Start Second Half Strong (Thursday, July 21) article feature image
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Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images. Pictured: Jose Altuve (Astros)

  • The Yankees travel to Houston to open the second half with a doubleheader against the Astros.
  • These are two of the best teams in the American League so both games are likely to be tightly contested.
  • D.J. James previews the matchup and shares a best bet below.

Yankees vs. Astros Odds

Yankees Odds +102
Astros Odds -118
Over/Under 8 (-118 / -104)
Time 1:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Cristian Javier has been one of the Houston Astros’ unsung heroes this season. He owns a 3.22 ERA against a 2.54 xERA, which means he has actually been unlucky! This ranks in the 93rd percentile of MLB. He and the Astros will face Jordan Montgomery and the New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon. Montgomery, on the other hand, has been lucky. He has a 3.27 ERA and a 4.19 xERA. In fact, his xBA ranks in the 16th percentile of MLB.

Over the course of the past month, the Astros have slumped a bit, but they can still hit left-handed pitching, especially a starter who has feasted off of good fortune. This is the angle for Thursday afternoon’s game. The Astros have a better bullpen, as of late, as well.

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New York Yankees: Can Montgomery Quiet Astros’ Offense?

Montgomery is a strong fixture in the Yankees’ rotation. He rarely walks hitters (4.6%) and ranks in the 75th percentile in Hard-Hit Rate. He is usually one of New York’s more consistent starters, but at the end of June, he began to struggle, allowing four and five earned runs in back-to-back appearances.

Now, Houston will be without Yordan Álvarez and Michael Brantley, but over the course of the past month, José Altuve and Chas McCormick both have a .400+ xwOBA off of lefties. Martín Maldonado, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel are also above the .330 mark. Typically, Álvarez and Brantly would round out the top of the order, but Kyle Tucker, Jeremy Peña and others will have to pick up the slack. They should be able to.

Over the past month, New York has a 3.32 xFIP. This ranks sixth in MLB. The reason is only Aroldis Chapman and Ryan Weber own a 4.00+ xFIP in that timeframe. The rest of the bullpen is pretty reliable, so the Astros will have to score with Montgomery in the game.

Houston Astros: Will Javier Dominate Yankees Again?

Javier is an overlooked star. Unlike Montgomery, though, he does walk 9.4% of batters. His xBA is only .197, which is exceptional.

Since June 21, the Yankees have fared well off of righties, too. They have seven batters above a .330 xwOBA. Since the beginning of July, Giancarlo Stanton’s xwOBA is only .323 and Marwin Gonzales and Anthony Rizzo have also struggled. Most righties the Yankees have seen are not like Javier, either. He owns a 33.9% Hard-Hit Percentage and strikes out a large percentage of hitters (35.2% K Rate). He will keep the Yankee hitters off balance, especially with some key pieces slumping.

The Houston bullpen has ranked fourth over the past month with a 3.25 xFIP. Enoli Paredes, Hector Neris and Ryne Stanek have been the weaker bullpen pieces with over a 4.00 xFIP, but the rest of the bullpen is lockdown. As long as Javier is throwing strikes, he will go deep into this game and hand it to the core of the ‘pen to finish New York off. Keep in mind, he faced this same Yankee team in June and struck out 13, walked one and didn’t allow a hit in seven innings. Expect similar takeaways.

Yankees-Astros Pick

Houston is undervalued here. The Yankees have already displayed that they will have trouble with Javier, who is a far better pitcher than Montgomery. The Astros lineup is similar to the Yankees, but they have hit lefties better than they have shown in the month of July. Take Houston at -125, and play it to -140. Javier should be a heavy favorite considering who is on the mound opposing him. The back-end of the Houston bullpen has been slightly better lately, too.

Pick: Houston Astros -125 | play to -140

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