The Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros will play the rubber game of their Battle for Texas on Sunday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET at Minute Maid Park. Texas took game one, while the Astros answered back with an 8-2 win on Saturday night. It’s a matchup of dynamic lefties on the mound as Andrew Heaney (1-1, 8.22 ERA) will start for the Rangers against Houston’s Framber Valdez (1-1, 1.89).
Houston is a heavy moneyline favorite at -200 on DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Rangers are +170 underdogs. The run total is set at 7.5.
Rangers-Astros picks: Sunday, April 16th
Day to day: SP Jon Gray (arm)
Out: SS Corey Seager (left hamstring strain), C Mitch Garver (mild left knee sprain), RP Josh Sborz (ankle sprain)
Day to day: OF Chas McCormick (vision issues)
Out: OF/DH Michael Brantley (shoulder surgery), 2B Jose Altuve (fractured right thumb), SP Lance McCullers Jr. (arm)
Andrew Heaney vs. Framber Valdez
It’s been a tale of two starts so far for Heaney in his Rangers debut. The lefty was hammered in his first outing of the year, giving up seven runs on seven hits in just 2.2 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, before bouncing back with a whopping 10 strikeouts over five clean frames against the Kansas City Royals. This has been the story of Heaney’s mercurial career, really: When he’s commanding his fastball and slider, he can be downright unhittable, but when he’s not, the numbers will get very crooked very quickly.
Valdez hasn’t had the toughest matchups, but he’s been about as-advertised so far this year, with a dynamic sinker that generates plenty of whiffs but spotty command that keeps his WHIP elevated a little above where it should be. The lefty opened his season with five scoreless against the Chicago White Sox on Opening Day, then allowed two runs in seven innings in each of his next two starts against the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s had a ton of success against Texas in his career, with a 6-3 record and 2.55 ERA over 13 appearances (10 starts).
There’s a chance the over looks foolish here if Good Heaney shows up, but how likely is that really, even against a somewhat depleted Astros lineup? I’m betting that Houston will be able to put up a few runs against the Texas lefty while the Rangers do just enough against Valdez to get the total to 8.
Pick: Over 7.5
With Corey Seager out, the Rangers lineup has struggled — utilityman Josh Smith is somehow batting second on a regular basis. Heaney could win this game by himself, but he could just as likely lose it, and I’d rather bet on Valdez.