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Picks, predictions for Astros vs. Royals on Saturday, September 16

Chris Landers shares their top picks on DraftKings Sportsbook for Astros-Royals on Saturday, September 16th.

Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals congratulates Bobby Witt Jr. after Witt hit a solo hoe run during the 5th inning of the game against the Houston Astros at Kauffman Stadium on September 15, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Three losses in their last four games — to the A’s and Royals, no less — have the Astros clinging to just a half-game lead atop the AL West. Houston (83-65) will look to get back and avoid a second straight series loss as they take on Kansas City (47-101) in game two of this three-game set. First pitch from Kauffman Stadium is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. Rookie JP France (11-5, 3.61 ERA) gets the ball for the visitors, while the Royals will send the white-hot Cole Ragans (6-4, 3.01) to the mound.

The Astros enter as -148 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Kansas City at +124. The run total is set at 9.5.

Astros-Royals picks: Saturday, September 16

Injury report


Out: RP Ryne Stanek (ankle)


Out: C Freddy Fermin (finger)

Starting pitchers

JP France vs. Cole Ragans

Aside from a horrendous 10-run blowup against the Red Sox last month — which singlehandedly raised his ERA by nearly a full run — France has been rock-solid at the back of Houston’s rotation, with two or fewer earned runs allowed in seven of his last nine outings. He stymied the Padres last time out, allowing just one run on four hits (and five walks) over six innings. Command has been a struggle for the rookie so far in his young career, but his cutter/changeup combo has done enough to keep batters off-balance and allow him to churn out innings.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the Royals in recent weeks, you’ve missed one of the most spectacular breakouts of the season in Ragans. Acquired from Texas in the Aroldis Chapman deal earlier this year, the lefty has been sensational since joining the rotation, with a 1.69 ERA and 69 Ks in 53.1 innings across nine starts. He’s allowed just two runs and seven hits combined over his last four outings, a span of 24.2 innings, with a high-90s heater and a wipeout slider (47.7% whiff rate) and changeup (35.2%).

Over/Under pick

This number feels way too high, considering Ragans’ recent success on the mound and the fact that Houston is averaging just 2.5 runs a game over its last four. Granted, this will be Ragans’ toughest test yet — the Astros have crushed lefties all year — but we’ve yet to see a team figure him out, and France is a good bet to post another quality start against a mediocre Royals lineup.

Pick: Under 9.5

Moneyline pick

It’s hard to imagine Houston dropping two in a row here, even against Ragans. This will be a fascinating matchup, but I think France can keep the Astros in this game until they get a big hit or two late.

Pick: Astros -148