Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#1973 Houston Astros vs.
#1974 Texas Rangers
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at 8:05pm EDT
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

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In-state rivals will clash to continue a four-game series on Wednesday night when the Houston Astros visit the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. The set is evened at one game apiece after Texas rolled to an 8-1 victory on Tuesday night to cash in as a +171 underdog. Houston still leads the AL West by six games at 84-60, while Texas is well behind the rest of the division at 54-90.

The Astros hold a 12-5 advantage over Texas in 2021 and have won the season series now six years in a row.

Greinke struggles in return from IL, Astros blown out

The rest of the season for playoff-bound Houston is getting everyone up to speed for the playoffs, so the Astros were hoping from a better performance on Tuesday from future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke in his first start in almost three weeks due to COVID protocol. Houston's offense didn't look sharp either just one day after plating 15 runs, as Carlos Correa's RBI single in the ninth inning was the only thing keeping the Astros from being shut out.

Greinke allowed seven earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four in five innings of work to take the loss. Jose Altuve went 2-4 with a run scored to highlight an otherwise quiet night for the offense.

He was throwing the ball pretty good, got a couple of pitches up, and they’re not missing them,” manager Dusty Baker said to the Associated Press about Greinke's outing. “They had four runs on (two) hits. We left him out there longer than we wanted to because our bullpen’s upside down.”

Despite the overall success, it hasn't been a great gambling season for the Astros, who are 70-74 against the spread and now slightly down on the money line for the season. Overs are a strong 76-61-6 for the Astros, although just one of their last four games has gone over the betting total.

Houston has recently tumbled out of the top spot on the MLB leaderboard in a few stats at the plate, but still has great numbers overall with an average of 5.32 runs per game and a 0.783 team OPS. The Astros pitching staff has been fantastic lately and now leads the AL with a collective 3.72 ERA including a mark of 3.54 from a stellar rotation.

Jose Urquidy is set to make his third start since returning from a long IL stint on Wednesday after lasting just three innings last week against the Seattle Mariners, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two. The 26-year-old has dealt with shoulder problems but been effective in 16 starts when healthy, going 6-3 with a 3.51 ERA. Yordan Alvarez is having another prolific season with an 0.891 OPS, 30 homers and 94 RBI to lead the loaded Houston offense.

The Astros are mostly healthy for the stretch run, although backup catcher Jason Castro (knee discomfort) and bench player Taylor Jones (COVID protocol). Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi exited Monday's game after just 1.1 innings due to foot discomfort and immediately hit the IL. Justin Verlander (Tommy John surgery) and Tyler Ivey (elbow discomfort) are also missing from the Houston rotation. Relievers Pedro Baez (shoulder discomfort), Kent Emanuel (elbow surgery), Rafael Montero (shoulder discomfort) and Andre Scrubb (strained shoulder) are all on the IL.

Lyles tosses gem to key upset of Astros

It has not been a good year for veteran Jordan Lyles on the mound, but he could be ending 2021 on a high note after a brilliant performance against the elite Houston offense on Tuesday night. Texas got going at the plate early as Nathaniel Lowe checked in with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, with Adolis Garcia and DJ Peters also each going deep later.

Lyles tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while racking up seven strikeouts in his best performance of the season. Garcia had a huge game going 3-4 with two doubles, two RBI, a homer and two runs scored, while Lowe was on base three times and scored twice.

Texas has only been somewhat better against the spread at 67-76, and is down a big amount on the money line due to the rough outright record. Overs are 70-65-8 for the Rangers, and just one of their last six games has gone under the betting total.

It's been a huge struggle at the plate for the Rangers as they are averaging 3.90 runs per game with a 0.672 OPS, both the worst marks in the AL. Texas pitching has been somewhat more successful but still ranks in the bottom 10 with a 4.73 combined ERA, including a mark of 5.11 from a rotation that has scuffled.

Kohei Arihara is set to take the mound on Wednesday after tossing 4.2 innings of two-run ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks last weekend, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out three. The 29-year-old former NPB star has struggled in his first MLB season, going 2-3 with a 5.89 ERA across nine starts while also missing nearly four months due to shoulder surgery. Rookie Adolis Garcia is one of the few standouts on the Texas offense with a 0.759 OPS, 29 homers, 10 steals and 79 RBI.

Texas is missing a few regulars from the lineup, as center fielder Eli White (elbow surgery) and second baseman Andy Ibanez (strained hamstring) went down in recent weeks. First baseman Ronald Guzman (knee surgery) and outfielder Willie Calhoun (fractured forearm) both missed the majority of the season. Starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz remains in COVID protocol, while Kyle Cody is dealing with shoulder inflammation. The bullpen lost two key arms early in the year with Jonathan Hernandez and Jose Leclerc both undergoing Tommy John surgery, while Matt Bush (elbow inflammation), John King (shoulder inflammation), Hunter Wood (elbow surgery) and Nick Snyder (shoulder fatigue) are also currently on the IL.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Even though this is a lot of juice to lay on the run line, it's still a valuable bet as the Astros have just been too much for the rebuilding Rangers this season. It's hard to trust Arihara against an elite offense given his overall struggles, and the Rangers lineup won't get much done against the AL's top pitching staff by ERA.

Texas has one of the worst records in baseball thanks in large part to the struggles of the offense, which has an AL-low 84 wRC+ while only getting worse at the end of July with star Joey Gallo getting dealt to the New York Yankees. That's not enough to support Arihara, who has had a rough time transitioning to MLB with nine homers allowed in just 36.1 innings of work with nearly more walks than strikeouts, a bad omen against this lethal Astros offense.

Urquidy has been well above average across the board when healthy and could be a allowed to go at least a little deeper into Wednesday's game as he get further removed from his injury, and the Houston bullpen has improved a lot since the trade deadline with a 3.60 ERA after acquiring some key pieces like Kendall Graveman and Phil Maton. Houston is miles ahead of the Rangers in every facet right now, and this favorable pitching matchup will lead to a blowout.

Prediction: Astros -1.5 (-130)

Full-Game Total Pick

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The Astros have the type of lineup that can cover this total by themselves, as they still lead the Majors in a few categories including wRC+ with a mark of 118. Houston has the rare combination of a lot of power threats plus the lowest combined strikeout rate in the Majors, and the only below average hitter in the current everyday lineup is the catcher spot.

Both starting pitchers in this one have not been able to clear five innings, and while these are decent bullpens right now, there's only so much depth for each. Houston's offense will turn this one into a blowout early on, and Texas will be able to generate some runs against the low-leverage relievers for the Astros.

Prediction: Over 9 (-105)
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily.