We have a seven-game MLB schedule on tap for this evening, so let’s get into the action!
We’ll dive into an Astros vs. Rangers MLB Pick from the beautiful Glove Life Field in Arlington!
Astros vs. Rangers Betting Odds
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
Over 8 (-117)
Under 8 (-103)
Starting Pitching Matchup
Astros – F. Valdez (L) 3 GS, 1-1, 4.50 ERA/3.73 FIP
The Astros kick off a four-game set against the rival Rangers by handing the ball to left-hander Framber Valdez who toes the rubber for the fourth time this season.
Valdez has fared okay through his first three starts of the season, posting a 4.50 ERA, but his peripherals suggest he deserves better. He’s also the owner of a 3.73 FIP and 3.97 SIERA and has yet to allow a home run this season.
The key to Valdez’s game is the ground ball. His ground-ball rate on the season is a hefty 74.4%, but he’s also coming off a season in which he posted a 70.3% mark that was easily the highest mark in baseball among pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched. In fact, it was 9.4% higher than second-place Logan Webb of the San Francisco Giants.
As a result, the home run numbers are consistently low. In addition to not surrendering a gopher ball in his 14 innings of work this season, he owns a 0.80 HR/9 mark for his career, a figure that was identical to the mark he posted a season ago.
One thing that has bit him from time to time is his control. Valdez owns a 4.18 BB/9 for his career, and he has walked a whopping 6.43 batters per nine this season. He’ll also be in search of a bounce-back start tonight after being tagged for six earned runs on eight hits and four walks in 4.1 frames against the Angels his last time out.
Valdez has posted a career 3.62 ERA between five starts, eight appearances and 32.1 innings against the Rangers. He pitched seven innings of two-run ball with seven strikeouts against just one walk in his lone career start at Globe Life Field.
Rangers – D. Dunning (R) 3 GS, 0-1, 5.68 ERA/4.82 FIP
Getting the ball for his fourth start of the season tonight is Rangers right-hander Dane Dunning who is looking for some improved results against a dangerous Astros lineup.
Dunning has worked to an elevated 5.68 ERA in the early going, but he too owns peripherals that suggest he should see superior results moving forward. His 4.82 is better than the ERA but remains elevated, but a 3.75 SIERA is a very attractive figure. He also owns a 3.59 xFIP while posting a strong 9.95 K/9 through 12.2 frames on the campaign.
Walks and home runs have hurt. He’s walked seven batters in those 12.2 innings while allowing a pair of homers. That said, he did post a superior 3.29 BB/9 and 0.99 HR/9 last season, numbers quite similar to his career work through the first 164.1 innings of his big-league career.
One number that stands out if we’re looking at positive regression is a huge .405 BABIP, a figure 80 points above his career mark. That said, he also sits in the league’s 12th percentile in hard-hit rate, 9th in xERA, 13th in xBA, 13th in xSLG and 26th in barrel rate, so the Statcast metrics are certainly frowning upon his work early in the season.
It’s a tiny sample, but Dunning has posted a 7.50 ERA across six career innings against the Astros across one start and one relief outing. He does, however, sporting a fantastic 3.18 ERA in 14 starts, 15 appearances and 70.2 career innings at Glove Life Field.
He posted a 3.09 ERA/2.72 FIP at home last season versus a 6.39 ERA/5.56 FIP on the road, so it certainly bodes well for him that this outing comes on his home turf this evening.
Of course, the Astros still pose a major threat at the plate even after losing a pair of superstars in George Springer and Carlos Correa over the last two offseasons.
Jose Altuve is on the IL at the moment, but the Astros still have the likes of Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel as one of the better-looking core bats across the league.
Those bats haven’t combined for success that aligns with expectation so far, however. The Astros sit 20th with a .292 wOBA on the season and 18th with a 95 wRC+. Their power has been mediocre with a .153 ISO, but due to pitching largely outplaying hitting early in the season that mark is good for ninth in the bigs.
The work against righties is quite similar. The ‘Stros sit 16th with a .297 wOBA off righties and 15th with a 98 wRC+. Their .158 ISO off right-handers sits seventh in the league but doesn’t exactly represent a powerful figure in and of itself.
The club snapped a four-game losing streak with an eight-run output in a win over the Blue Jays yesterday afternoon. They managed just seven runs during that four-game skid and scored two runs or fewer in six of nine games prior to getting back on track.
We’ll see if that effort can carry over into this one tonight.
No one came close to spending as much money this offseason as a Rangers club that spent more than half a billion dollars on their middle infield with signings of shortstop Corey Seager and second baseman Marcus Semien.
The return on investment in the early going has been disappointing to be sure. Both of those high-profile signing have yet to pay off in a small sample as both Seager and Semien have scuffled at the dish and the Rangers sit one spot behind the Astros at 21st with a .289 wOBA on the season. Additionally, they’re tied for 20th with a 91 wRC+ while their tiny .115 ISO checks in at 25th.
That said, it’s right-handed pitching that’s given them the most trouble as they’ve actually clobbered southpaws to this point. The Rangers sit seventh with a .344 wOBA off left-handed pitching while their powerful .192 ISO off southpaws checks in at fourth.
The wild, wild west! 🤠
We’ve got a good one developing in Seattle after Nick Solak gives the Rangers a 6-5 lead with this two-run homer 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/yZSxLQaUVS
— Just Baseball (@JustBBMedia) April 22, 2022
Those numbers took a hit yesterday when they were shutout by the Oakland A’s on the back of five shutout frames from left-handed starter Cole Irvin. They did score six runs on Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales in their previous meeting with a southpaw starter, however.
After scoring eight runs in each of the first two games of a four-game set in Oakland, the Rangers were held to just two runs across the final two games of that series, taking that shutout their last time out.
They’ll hope a lefty in Valdez can cure what’s ailed them of late.
It’s probably a little early to be putting too much stock into bullpen work with five days still to go in April, but this Astros bullpen has been excellent.
That group will enter this one ranked fifth with a tidy 2.51 ERA on the season, but do slip into the middle of the pack at 14th with a 3.33 FIP. As noted, pitching is dominating hitting early in the season as most teams are sporting sub-4.00 bullpen ERAs to this point.
According to Statcast, the Astros’ bullpen sits 14th with a 37.8% hard-hit rate on the season and tied for 15th with a 7.3% barrel rate that’s helped limit home runs to just 0.59 HR/9 through 61 innings on the young season.
The club’s bullpen will be key this season in support of what should be a quality rotation and offense.
The Rangers’ bullpen hasn’t fared as well as most others in the league so far this season.
In fact, only one bullpen as been worse as the Rangers sit 29th with a 4.40 bullpen ERA on the season and also dead last with a 5.08 FIP. Walks and home runs have been trouble as well as they are tied for last with a 4.76 BB/9 on the season and tied for last once again with a 1.59 HR/9, although one would suggest the homer rate will shrink moving forward due to an unsustainably high 20.3% HR/FB ratio.
However, the batted-ball data suggests home run issues are real. This bullpen sits 21st with a 41.1% hard-hit rate, but once again tied for last with a 10.2% barrel rate. Their average exit velocity against of 89.7 mph is good for 23rd league wide.
Clearly, it’s a group that’s been hit hard. The results obviously don’t apply to everyone as some arms are sporting good numbers and solid peripherals, but as a group they need to be much better moving forward.
Astros are 2-5 in their last seven games as a favorite
Astros are 1-4 in their last five games following a win
Under is 10-2 in the Astros’ last 12 versus a right-handed starter
Under is 5-1 in the Astros’ last five road games versus a right-handed starter
Rangers are 5-1 in their last six as an underdog
Rangers are 1-6 in their last seven home games
Over is 3-0-1 in the Rangers’ last four home games
Over is 5-0-1 in the Rangers’ last six games as a home underdog
Head to Head
Astros are 40-19 in the last 59 meetings
Astros are 5-2 in the last seven meetings in Texas
Over is 3-0-2 in the last five meetings
Over is 3-0-2 in the last five meetings in Texas
There’s little doubt who the superior team overall is, but I like the value we’re getting here with the Rangers.
One concern is the lack of innings Dunning is averaging on his starts so far this season, likely exposing what’s been a weak bullpen to a solid chunk of this game against a dangerous offense. If there’s one reason to dislike this pick, that would be it for me.
However, Dunning has been excellent in this ball park. Last season, Dunning went at least five innings in each of his first six home starts. He did so five more times, but the Rangers monitored his innings as the season moved along. The point is he was getting much deeper into games at home than he was on the road.
Obviously, the offensive numbers are impressive off left-handed pitching for the Rangers. They’re vastly superior to the Astros’ numbers off right-handed pitching to be sure.
The bullpen situation certainly favors the Astros, but with Dunning dealing at home and the Rangers mashing lefties in the early going I’ll roll the dice on the Rangers to win this one on the moneyline tonight.
Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who specializes in hockey and baseball as his main focus at GamlingSites.org. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved. …
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