The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics will take the field on Saturday at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. PT.
Houston (28-21 SU and 24-25 RL) is starting lefty Framber Valdez tomorrow. The 29-year-old is 4-4 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in ten starts this year.
Oakland (10-42 SU and 20-32 RL) had not named a starter for Saturday's game at the time this article was written. The team is searching for a replacement for Kyle Muller (1-4 with an 8.04 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in ten starts), who was sent down to Triple-A on Tuesday.
*Article published before the conclusion of Friday night's game.
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The Astros' pitching staff is eliteAfter sweeping the A's at home last week, Houston dropped two of three in Milwaukee. The Astros are three games out of first place in the AL West race.
Houston scores 4.35 runs per game (16th) and hit .244 (18th) with a .696 OPS (24th). It's hit 45 home runs (24th) and stolen 28 bases (24th) in 2023. The Astros' pitching staff sports the lowest ERA (3.23) in baseball and the third-lowest WHIP (1.18), including 22 quality starts.
Who else? pic.twitter.com/SQQJ3naaVP— Houston Astros (@astros) May 23, 2023
Valdez takes the hill for the visitors in game two of the three-game set. The southpaw dazzled on the mound in his last start, holding Oakland to four hits and striking out seven A's in a complete game shutout. Valdez, who has a 72:12 K:BB ratio this season, is 3-3 with a 2.67 ERA and 52 Ks in ten career appearances vs. Oakland.
Will Oakland avoid another sweep versus Houston?The A's are the laughingstock of MLB, with more headlines about their next host city than their on-field performance. Is baseball officially dead in Oakland?
The Athletics score 3.52 runs per game (29th) and hit .222 (30th) with a .661 OPS (28th). They've hit 54 long balls (19th) and stolen 49 bases (3rd) in 2023. The pitching staff sports a 6.88 ERA (30th) and a 1.67 WHIP (30th) with ten quality starts.
JJ B̶l̶e̶d̶a̶y̶ Double Play pic.twitter.com/WAGS0222Nx— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 26, 2023
With the rookie Muller sent packing, Oakland is searching for a new arm for its rotation. It's unclear who will make the start for the home team Saturday following the lefty's demotion, but it's likely the team will opt for a bullpen day, with a string of relievers filling in. The A's bullpen is the worst in MLB, with the highest ERA (6.56) and WHIP (1.70). They've given up the most home runs (31) and surrendered the most walks (132), too.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The A's are hitting lefties much better (.257 BA/.319 OBP/.411 SLG/.731 OPS) than righties (.209/.292/.342/.634) this year, with a higher home run rate. They just faced Valdez, and while it wasn't pretty, the outcome is fresh on their minds, and I believe the recency of the experience will work in their favor.
Oakland's run line record is ten games better than its overall record. Houston's run line record is just 16-20 as favorites, including 6-7 as away favorites, and 5-7 vs. division opponents. With a slew of relievers likely handling the pitching duties for the A's, it's unlikely Astros hitters will get more than two ABs against any pitcher. As they say, the third time through the lineup is when batters feast.
Bet on the A's to keep the game close on Saturday.
Full-Game Total Pick
The under is 5-0 in the Athletics' last five vs. a team with a winning record and 6-1 in their last seven vs. American League West. The under is 7-0 in the Astros' last seven games vs. a team with a winning % below .400 and 5-0 in their last five vs. the American League West. It's also 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these clubs.
I'm placing a wager on the under in Saturday's Astros-Athletics game. The under is 13-10-1 in the A's division games and 7-5 in Houston's division games. The Athletics were just shut out by Valdez in his last start and have been held to two or fewer runs in six of his eight career starts against them. They're also scoring just 3.2 runs per game at home (25 GP).
The Astros could have a field day at the plate but that's not a given on Saturday with Oakland likely going for a bullpen day. If that's the case, this game could be lower scoring, which also works in the favor of A's run line bettors. That's what I'm predicting to happen tomorrow and that's how I'll be betting.