The Texas Rangers will host the Houston Astros in the final contest of a four-game series on Thursday. The Astros took the series opener 15-1, with the Rangers bouncing back to win 8-1 on Tuesday. Wednesday's head-to-head game was not complete at the time of this preview.
The Astros have won 12 of the 16 contests against the Rangers this year.
Astros closing in on AL West CrownThe Houston Astros are 84-60, holding a commanding 6.5 game lead over the second-place Seattle Mariners and a seven-game lead over the Oakland A's in the American League West.
Houston has been one most dangerous offensive teams in baseball for most of the season, leading all teams with a .269 team batting average, second with 5.3 runs scored per game, and third with a +185 run-scoring differential. The Astros lineup is loaded, with seven positions who have at least a 2.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) on the season. Michael Brantley leads the team with a .315 batting average, and Yordan Alvarez leads the club with 30 home runs and 94 RBI. Carlos Correa has a team-high 6.2 WAR to go along with 22 home runs and 78 RBI.
Framber Valdez is scheduled to start for the Astros on Thursday. in 19 starts games this season, Valdez is 10-5 with a 3.26 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. In two starts this year against the Rangers this year, Valdez is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings.
Rangers towards the end of their fifth straight losing seasonThe Texas Rangers are 54-90, last in the West division, with the second-worst record in the American League. Although the wins and losses don't mean much at this point, Texas has not stopped playing hard and has now won seven of their last nine games.
Texas hit three home runs in Tuesday's victory, coming from Adolis Garcia, DJ Peters, and Nate Lowe. Garcia leads the Rangers with 30 home runs and 81 RBI on the year. Overall, the Rangers have struggled offensively, ranking 26th in MLB with 155 home runs, 28th averaging 3.9 runs per game, and 29th with a .231 batting average.
No issues in posting tonight’s final. 😏 pic.twitter.com/6KaaWpajCS— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) September 15, 2021
The Rangers pitching staff is 22nd with a 4.70 ERA. Scheduled to start on Thursday will be rookie Glenn Otto who is 0-1 with a 6.92 ERA in three career starts. Otto tossed five shutout innings in his debut against the Astros on August 27, allowed two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Angels on September 3, but was shelled for eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Athletics last Friday.
- Astros are 2-5 in their last 7 road games.
- Rangers are 7-2 in their last 9 overall.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Framber Valdez has a strong season and has two wins over the Rangers this season but has not been pitching his best recently. Valdez allowed four earned runs over six and five innings, respectively, in his last two outings against the Padres and Angels. The Rangers will be starting Glenn Otto, who was strong in his Major League debut and only home career start against the Astros three weeks ago.
We know Houston is clearly the superior team here, but they also come with a hefty price tag, and at this point of the season, this game is not vital for either club. The Astros have also lost eight of their last 11 road games against the Rangers, so I wouldn't recommend laying the high juice. I will take the Rangers to keep this game within a run, if not win.
Full-Game Total Pick
I don't trust Glenn Otto to shut the Houston offense down the same way he did in his debut, as their potent lineup will be seeing him for the second time, but even if he does, the Astros may still score plenty of runs late. Otto threw five shutout innings when he faced the Astros, but the Rangers bullpen allowed five runs in that game.
On the other side, Valdez is having a strong season but has a 6.55 ERA in his last two starts, and there have been at least nine runs scored in three of the last four games that he started.
At least nine runs have been scored in five of the last six Rangers games, and nine runs or more scored in six of the last eight Astros games. Take the over for Thursday.