Jose Altuve’s dramatic ninth-inning homer in Game 5 made it a clean sweep at Globe Life Park and brought the Houston Astros one win away from another trip to the World Series. Now, though, they have to solve what’s been their biggest bugaboo of this postseason — actually winning at home — while the Texas Rangers will look to pick itself off the deck and keep its season alive for one more day. Texas will have the right man on the mound to do it in the red-hot Nathan Eovaldi (12-5, 3.63 ERA), while the Astros counter with lefty Framber Valdez (12-11, 3.45). First pitch from Minute Maid Park is set for 8:03 p.m. ET.
Houston enters at -120 on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Rangers at +100. The run total is set at 8.5.
Rangers vs. Astros ALCS Game 6 picks: Sunday, Oct. 22
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Framber Valdez
Eovaldi’s postseason renaissance continued in Game 2 of this series, with three runs on five hits allowed over six innings with nine strikeouts — lowering his October ERA to a measly 2.29, with a 0.86 WHIP to boot. That’s quite a turnaround for a guy no one knew what to expect from just a few weeks ago: A forearm injury early in the second half derailed the righty’s season, forcing him to miss nearly a month and a half on the IL, and he wasn’t nearly the same pitcher when he returned in September. Eovaldi posted an ugly 9.30 ERA for the month, with significantly diminished fastball velocity, throwing the Rangers’ rotation plans into further flux. He’s totally turned things around in the playoffs, though, sitting 95-96 with the heater again and consistently spotting his breaking ball and splitter where he wants them. This is the Eovaldi who was a Cy Young candidate in the first half, and he’s been great against the Astros when healthy this year (he also threw seven two-hit innings at Globe Life park back in July).
Speaking of roller coasters: Valdez, too, looked like a Cy Young candidate earlier in the year, but his second half was wildly inconsistent — and that’s carried over to the postseason. The highs are still astronomical — a no-hitter against the Guardians to start August, seven one-run innings against the Rangers to start September — but he also allowed four or more runs in five of 14 starts post-All-Star break and has been the Houston rotation’s weak link in October. Valdez has taken a loss in each of his two starts this month, giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks in 4.1 innings against the Twins in the ALDS and five runs (four earned) on seven hits in just 2.2 innings in Game 2 of this series. Texas jumped him for four runs in the first inning in that contest, taking advantage of a sinker that he hasn’t been able to keep down consistently for a while.
It hasn’t necessarily felt like it, but four of the five games in this series have cleared this number, and I’m backing the over again on Sunday night. These are two offenses that are just very hard to keep totally down for a full nine innings — even with Eovaldi’s brilliance, the Astros still managed to chip away and put up four runs in Game 2. The Rangers are very comfortable against Valdez, and with their backs against the wall I expect them to come out swinging, while Houston’s lineup is in a far better place than it was the last time they faced Eovaldi.
Pick: Over 8.5
Who wants a Game 7? Texas knows it can win at Minute Maid Park, and they know they’ll have a chance to win whenever Eovaldi takes the mound. In the end, I just don’t have enough faith in Valdez to not put his team in another hole, and at plus odds I’ll take the more desperate team with the better starting pitcher.
Pick: Rangers +100