Another game at Globe Life Park, another offensive explosion from the Houston Astros. The reigning world champs dropped the hammer down on the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff again in Game 4, evening up this ALCS at two games apiece with an emphatic 10-3 win on Thursday night. Now the series — and each team’s starting rotation — will reset, with a best-of-three to determine who moves on to the World Series. Each team will send their Game 1 starter to the mound in Game 5 on Friday, with Justin Verlander (13-8, 3.22 ERA) going for the ‘Stros and Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.20) looking to continue his excellent October for the Rangers. First pitch from Globe Life Park is set for 5:07 p.m. ET.
This one is nearly a pick ‘em on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Texas at -115 and the Astros at -105. The run total is set at 8.5.
Astros vs. Rangers ALCS Game 4 picks: Thursday, Oct. 19
Justin Verlander vs. Jordan Montgomery
Verlander was a bit bumpy to begin his second go-round with the ‘Stros — he allowed five or more runs in three of his first seven starts with the team — but he’s rounded into form at just the right time. The righty was instrumental in Houston rallying to steal the AL West title, firing eight innings of one-run ball on the road against the Mariners and then five shutout innings against the Diamondbacks on the season’s final weekend. He’s also been very good in his two October starts, allowing four hits over six shutout innings in a Game 1 win over the Twins before holding the Rangers to two runs over 6.2 innings in a hard-luck loss last Sunday. Verlander was also excellent in his lone start at Globe Life Park in the regular season, allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings as part of a demonstrative Astros sweep in Arlington back in early September.
Speaking of clutch trade deadline acquisitions: Montgomery (along with Nathan Eovaldi) was a rock in the Rangers’ rotation down the stretch — with a quality start in eight of 11 outings across August and September — and has been arguably the most important part of Texas’ postseason run to this point. He was brilliant in his first start of the postseason, firing seven shutout innings in a win over the Rays in Game 1 of the Rangers’ Wild Card series, then came back with 6.1 more scoreless frames against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. He doesn’t have the most overwhelming arsenal, but he’s been masterful at avoiding the heart of the plate while keeping batters off-balance with his fastballs, curve and change.
Yes, it seems like the Astros’ big bats have finally woken up after a sleepy start to this series. But this number still feels a bit too high, likely as a result of that recency bias. There were exactly two runs scored the first time these two pitchers locked up in Game 1, and even if you’re not convinced that Montgomery can pitch that well again, there’s still a huge gap between that number and nine or 10. Verlander has been unflappable in October, and you’re going to need both teams adding to the scoreline if you want this over to cash.
Pick: Under 9
I know that Texas won the first Montgomery-Verlander matchup, but it still beggars belief a bit that Houston is the underdog in this spot. Verlander nearly pitched Monty to a draw in Game 1, and the Astros have dismantled the Rangers over the past two games — and in just about every other game at Globe Life Park this year. This isn’t to suggest that Texas has no shot, it’s just to say that I’d rather take the better odds in a game that is at worst a coin flip.
Pick: Astros -105