As wrestler Ric Flair once said, “to be the man, you gotta beat the man,” and the American League West leading Texas Rangers have a chance to do so on Monday on the road against the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros.
Texas Rangers (-120, 8.5) vs. Houston Astros
The strength of the Rangers all season long has been their offense, entering the series as the top scoring team in the league while leading the league in both on-base percentage and batting average, often times having either seven or eight of their nine players in the starting lineup hitting above .270.
Astros starting pitcher Brandon Bielak, who overall this season has a 5-5 record with a 3.49 ERA, but appears to be having regression catch up to him.
Bielak has allowed at least three runs in four of his last six starts as Bielak for the season has a 5.14 fielding independent with 6.9 strikeouts, 3.6 walks, and 1.4 home runs per nine innings this season.
The Rangers have a starting pitcher of their own, Jon Gray, who appears to be trying to ward off some hard regression as he has a record of 6-5 with a 3.31 ERA, but enters having allowed at least four runs in three of his last four starts.
Gray’s fielding independent is 4.48, getting 7.2 strikeouts to three walks per nine innings and has to face an Astros lineup that since the month of June began, has scored the second-most runs of any American League team behind only the Rangers.
With both starters having alarming advanced numbers, these two teams leading the American League in runs per game since the beginning of June, and the Rangers bullpen ranking 27th in the league in ERA entering Sunday, a big number of runs will be scored in a state where things are known for being bigger.
The Play: Rangers vs. Astros Over 8.5