After a wild walk-off win late Friday night, the Cleveland Guardians look to sew up a series win against the Houston Astros in game two of their weekend set. First pitch on Saturday night is set for 6:10 p.m. ET from Progressive Field. Rookie J.P. France (1-1, 3.44 ERA) will get the ball for Houston, while Cleveland ace Triston McKenzie (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the year as he returns from a shoulder injury.
The Guardians enter as -135 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Astros checking in at +115. The run total is set at 8.
Astros-Guardians picks: Saturday, June 10th
Out: OF/DH Yordan Alvarez (oblique), Lance McCullers Jr. (right forearm strain), OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery), SP Jose Urquidy (right shoulder inflammation)
Out: SP Cal Quantrill (left oblique strain), SP/RP Cody Morris (right teres major strain), SP Peyton Battenfield (left oblique strain)
J.P. France vs. Triston McKenzie
France has been more than Houston could’ve expected when it called the rookie up amid injuries to Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia. The righty is coming off of arguably his best start of the year, allowing just three hits over seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Los Angeles Angels. He doesn’t have the most explosive stuff, with just 29 strikeouts in 34 innings, but he commands all five of his pitches well and forces a decent amount of weak contact (54th percentile in average exit velocity, 57th in hard-hit rate). He’s allowed more than one earned run and failed to go six innings in just two of his six starts thus far.
McKenzie was back like he never left in his season debut last weekend, carving up the Minnesota Twins to the tune of 10 strikeouts over five shutout innings. The righty broke out as one the best pitchers in baseball last year, with a 2.96 ERA across 191.1 innings, and looks primed to do the same in 2023. He won’t light up a radar gun, but he consistently spots his four-seamer up in the zone to set up his two lethal breaking balls — his curve, in particular, is among the best in the game.
These teams combined for 19 runs over 14 innings on Friday night in one of the craziest games of the year, but I’m betting things get back to normal on Saturday. The Guardians have been one of the weakest offenses in baseball all season, while the Astros will now have to adjust to life without star slugger Yordan Alvarez. France should be able to generate lots of weak contact against a swing-happy Cleveland lineup, while McKenzie has now allowed two or fewer earned runs in 11 of his last 12 starts dating back to last year.
Pick: Under 8
Last night notwithstanding, both of these lineups are struggling to put runs on the board, and I just have a little bit more faith in McKenzie based on how he looked in his first outing of the year. France will keep Houston in it, but I think he’ll ultimately blink first in something of a pitcher’s duel.