The Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros head to the Midwest with their ALDS tied at a game apiece after splitting a pair in Houston over the weekend. Now comes a pivotal Game 3 on Tuesday: Win, and you’re a game away from the ALCS; lose, and your season is suddenly on the brink. The Astros will send righty Cristian Javier (10-5, 4.56 ERA) to the mound looking to take back home-field advantage, while the Twins counter with Sonny Gray (8-8, 2.79). First pitch from Target Field is set for 4:07 p.m. ET.
The Twins are the -135 moneyline favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Astros are the +114 underdogs, and the run total is set at 8.
Twins vs. Astros ALDS Game 3 picks: Tuesday, October 10
Out: OF/DH Byron Buxton (knee)
Cristian Javier vs. Sonny Gray
A breakout star in 2022, Javier started this season looking about the same — through the end of May, the righty had a 2.97 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 63.2 innings of work. And then the wheels mysteriously came off. Javier didn’t have an ERA below 5 in any month for the rest of the year: 5.79 in June, 6.86 in July, 6.17 in August and 5.11 in September. He did start to show signs of turning a corner toward the end of the year, at least, striking out 11 over five one-run innings against the Orioles on September 20 and blanking the Diamondbacks over six innings on October 1. The main culprit of Javier’s struggles has been his four-seam fastball: The righty throws the pitch nearly 60% of the time, but while his command of the pitch was impeccable last season, this year it’s catching far too much of the heart of the plate, with a .455 SLG allowed compared to a .325 mark last season.
In a world where Gerrit Cole doesn’t exist, Gray likely would’ve gotten a lot more Cy Young heat — and he’ll still get plenty of down-ballot votes as it is. The righty looked like arguably the best pitcher in baseball over the first couple of months, and while he slowed down a little bit as the summer progressed, he caught fire again in August and September, with a 2.67 ERA in the second half and 10 quality starts in his last 13 (it likely would’ve been 11, but Minnesota eased up on his workload in his meaningless final start last week). He was excellent in his postseason debut last week, picking up a win while blanking the Blue Jays over five innings, and he’s had success against Houston this year: Gray struck out 13 over seven one-run innings in early April and allowed three runs over six innings at Minute Maid Park back in May.
We’ve seen nine and eight runs in the first two games of this series, but I’m backing the under in this spot. Gray has been largely excellent this year, and he’s looked particularly good recently — if he has the feel for his breaking balls again, he should have success. Javier’s track record is spottier, but he’s been better lately, and I think he matches up well against a Twins lineup prone to striking out against righties (and in a ballpark that’s friendly to fly-ball pitchers).
Pick: Under 8
Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Co. could certainly make me live to regret this, but my money’s on the Twins. I trust Gray more than I trust Javier — while Minnesota strikes out a ton, they also hit a ton of homers, which has been Javier’s bugaboo this season — and I also give a slight edge to the Twins’ bullpen. If Gray can keep Houston in check for the third time this season, I think Minnesota wins.
Pick: Twins -135