Blue bloods and old postseason rivals collide as the Houston Astros (41-34) head west to kick off a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend (41-33). First pitch is set for 10:10 p.m. ET from Dodger Stadium. It’ll be a battle of promising rookies on the mound, as J.P. France (2-2, 3.42 ERA) goes for Houston while Emmet Sheehan (0-0, 0.00) makes his second career start for L.A.
The Dodgers enter as -145 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Astros at +125. The run total is set at 8.5.
Astros-Dodgers picks: Friday, June 23
Out: SP Jose Urquidy (shoulder), 1B/OF Michael Brantley (shoulder), OF/DH Yordan Alvarez (oblique)
Day to day: UTIL Chris Taylor (knee)
Out: RP Shelby Miller (neck), SP Julio Urias (hamstring), 3B Max Muncy (hamstring), SP Noah Syndergaard (blister), RP Daniel Hudson (knee), RP Phil Bickford (back), SP Ryan Pepiot (oblique), RP Jimmy Nelson (elbow)
J.P. France vs. Emmet Sheehan
Thrust into the rotation after injuries to Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy, France may not have the most electric stuff out there — but the results, to this point, speak for themselves. The righty held the red-hot Cincinnati Reds to just two runs on four hits over 6.2 innings last time out, lowering his ERA to 3.42 across his first eight MLB starts. His command has been up and down, but when he’s not handing out free passes, his full complement of secondaries — including a slider, change and curve — keeps hitters off-balance and earns quick outs that allow him to pitch deep into games.
We highlighted Sheehan a couple of weeks ago, right before his call to the Majors, but even we weren’t expecting a debut like that: The righty spun six no-hit innings against the San Francisco Giants, surrendering only two walks in his first career start. Obviously he’s going to give up a hit eventually, but Sheehan put up eye-popping numbers at Double-A prior to getting the call — seriously, he struck out 88 in just 53.1 innings — and he boasts three legitimately above-average pitches.
These aren’t the Astros and Dodgers lineups you’re used to. Houston is just 19th in team OPS against righties this year, while L.A. is averaging 3.2 runs per game over their past nine. Both of these pitchers present something of an unknown, but they’ve looked good in limited time in the Majors, especially France — who’s allowed three or fewer runs in six of his eight starts, while working into the seventh inning consistently. If he falls somewhere near that range again on Friday, this under should hit comfortably.
Pick: Under 8.5
These teams enter with nearly identical records, and in many ways their stories are the same: injury-ravaged rotations, surprisingly thin lineups, underperforming bullpens. Still, I think L.A.’s batting order boasts just a bit more depth than Houston’s, while Sheehan’s full repertoire gives him a bit more upside. I’m backing the home team on Friday night.