MLB

Astros Aim for Series Win Against In-State Rivals

The Houston Astros are starting to look like a safe bet to win the AL West. They can take another step toward that goal on Thursday when they wrap up a four-game series with the Texas Rangers. Houston has won two of the first three games against the last-place Rangers and will now try to the series win on the road.

According to BetUS, the Astros are heavy favorites on Thursday with a -210 moneyline, while the Rangers have a +180 moneyline. The over/under for the game is set at 8.5 runs.

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How Close?

Heading into Thursday’s action, the Astros hold a seven-game lead over second-place Oakland in the AL West. They’ve now won six of their last nine games to drop their magic number for clinching the division down to 11. In fact, the Astros are also within striking distance of Tampa Bay for the best record in the American League.

Meanwhile, a long season for Texas is almost over. The Rangers are currently 37 games under .500, 31 games behind Houston, and 17 games behind the fourth-place Angels in the AL West. On the bright side, the Rangers have won seven of their last ten games as they try to earn a series split with the Astros.

The Otto Zone

Rookie Glenn Otto will make his fourth start of the season for the Rangers on Thursday. In his first three starts, Otto has covered just 13 innings and pitched to a 6.92 ERA despite flashing promising stuff and striking out 16. To be fair, he tossed five scoreless innings against Houston in his debut but got bounced after eight runs over 3.1 innings against Oakland in his last start. 

Facing the Astros for the second time this season isn’t likely to be easy for Otto. Houston’s lineup has already churned out 23 runs over the first three games of this series and scored at least five runs in six of the team’s last nine games. Most of Houston’s lineup has an OPS over .800 on the season, with Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, and Alex Bregman all in a groove lately.

Look Out For the Lefty

Framber Valdez will make his 20h start of the season for the Astros on Thursday. The 27-year-old lefty is having a breakout season, going 10-5 with a 3.26 ERA over his first 19 starts. However, there is some concern that he could be tiring out late in the season, with Valdez giving up eight earned runs and seven walks over his first 11 innings of work in September.

Meanwhile, the Texas lineup has cooled off a little this week after a nice stretch during the early part of September. Adolis Garcia, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Nate Lowe remain the most important hitters in the Texas lineup. But production from the team’s supporting cast has disappeared in recent days, making it tough for the Rangers to score runs.

The Safe Approach

The Rangers are at least an intriguing underdog in this match because they have a lucrative +180 moneyline and have won seven of their last ten games. With Valdez showing signs of tiring out late in the season, Texas has a path to victory in this game if the team’s younger hitters can contribute.

That being said, the Rangers probably can’t rely on Otto to give them a quality start, especially after he got knocked around in his last outing. The Houston lineup is likely to feast on a young pitcher like that, even if he held his own against the Astros earlier this season. Play it safe and bet on the Astros to win on Thursday.

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