After the Houston Astros made a loud statement in their Game 1 win on Saturday, the Minnesota Twins look to avoid falling into a 2-0 ALDS hole as these two teams square off again on Sunday night. First pitch from Minute Maid Park in Houston is set for 8:03 p.m. ET. Pablo Lopez (11-8, 3.66 ERA) to the mound looking to avoid a 2-0 series deficit, while the Astros counter with lefty Framber Valdez (12-11, 3.45).
The Astros are the -135 moneyline favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Twins are the +114 underdogs, and the run total is set at 8.
Twins vs. Astros ALDS Game 2 picks: Sunday, October 8
Out: OF/DH Byron Buxton (knee)
Pablo Lopez vs. Framber Valdez
Lopez was excellent for Minnesota over the second half of the regular season — he posted a 3.36 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break — and he stayed hot in his first outing of the postseason. The righty held the Blue Jays to just one run on five hits and two walks over 5.2 innings of work in the Wild Card round, pacing Minnesota to a Game 1 win. Lopez was spotting his four-seam fastball at the top of the zone consistently, and when he’s doing that, it sets up his nasty slider (.173 BA against, 36.6% whiff rate) and changeup (.216 xBA against, 28.4% whiff rate). He’s yet to face the Astros this season, having missed them during both of the Twins’ series against Houston.
Valdez looked like a Cy Young candidate earlier in the year, but he had an absolute roller coaster of a second half. The highs are 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. The lefty’s sinker has been hit pretty hard this season, with a .304 xBA and .501 xSLG. His curveball (.162 BA against, 39.7% whiff rate) and changeup (.222, 31.1%) have excelled, however, and he’s started to emphasize those more down the stretch. This will be his first start against the Twins this year.
We saw a total of 10 in Game 1, but I’m backing the under in this spot given how compelling this pitching matchup is. Lopez is a substantive upgrade on the combination of Bailey Ober and Kenta Maeda that Minnesota ran out on Saturday, while Valdez’s ceiling is as high as just about any starter in the game when he’s not leaving his sinker over the middle of the plate. The Twins’ offensive production was really confined to just one inning on Saturday; this is a boom-or-bust outfit by nature, and I think we’ll see more of the latter than the former.
Pick: Under 8
Minnesota will come into this game desperate, and I think they have the edge on the mound in this one based on the Lopez that we saw in the Wild Card round and Valdez’s recent form (3.86 ERA in September). If this is going to be a competitive series — which I think it will — it has to start on Sunday, and this is as favorble a matchup as the Twins are going to get. At plus odds, that makes them more than worth the risk.
Pick: Twins +114