Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#963 Baltimore Orioles vs.
#964 Houston Astros
Monday, September 18, 2023 at 8:10pm EDT
Written by Mark Ruelle

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Two teams that could very well meet in October will square off this week when the Baltimore Orioles travel to Houston to take on the Astros in a three-game series. The Orioles clinched a playoff spot with a win on Sunday and are trying to outlast the Tampa Bay Rays to win the AL East Division. The Houston Astros lead both the Rangers and Mariners by a game and a half in the AL West standings heading into this week. The pitching matchup on Monday night will be Orioles' lefty John Means (0-1, 5.40) taking on Astros' righty Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.39). The first pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM EST.

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Back in the Postseason

The Baltimore Orioles are back in the postseason for the first time since 2016. The next step for the Orioles would be to clinch the AL East Division, earn the #1 seed in the American League, and avoid having to play on Wildcard Weekend. The Orioles split their four-game series this weekend with the Rays by winning the final two games after dropping the first two. On Sunday, the Orioles pulled out a thrilling 5-4 11-inning win thanks to a sacrifice fly from Cedric Mullins in the bottom of the 11th inning. They now have three games in hand in the loss column with the Rays.

The Orioles will give the ball to left-hander Means to start this potential playoff-preview series with the Astros. This will just be Means' second start of the season for the Orioles. Means has missed nearly all of the past two seasons following Tommy John surgery. He took the loss against the Cardinals in his first start back after going five innings and allowing five hits and three runs, only two of which were earned. He didn't walk anyone and struck out one in the start.


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Back in the Driver's Seat

The Houston Astros are back on top in the AL West Division and are within range of yet another division title and what will also be a first-round bye should they win it. The Astros did not help their cause this weekend in dropping two out of three games to the lowly Royals in Kansas City. The Astros did avoid a sweep with a 7-1 win on Sunday thanks to home runs by Yordan Alvarez and Jake Meyers and seven strong innings from starter Framber Valdez.

The Astros will put the ball in the hands of veteran Justin Verlander on Monday night against the Orioles. Verlander is 11-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 24 starts between the Mets and Astros this season. With Houston, Verlander is 5-3 in eight starts including four quality starts. He has allowed 49 hits in 49 innings and has an ERA of 3.86. Verlander's K/9 rate is 8.3 and his WHIP is 1.18. Verlander is 3-2 in his last five starts with an ERA of 3.48.


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Full-Game Side Bet

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Both teams still have a lot to play for with a first-round bye at stake for both teams in the postseason if they can win their divisions. Still, the urgency seems to shift more toward the Astros in the opener with Verlander on the hill against a pitcher, Means, who has made just one start this season. Verlander has gone 3-2 in his last five starts and has a solid ERA under four in that span. The Astros have played sluggishly recently but have benefitted from both the Mariners and Rangers getting swept over the weekend. Baltimore split a four-game series with Tampa but still owns a three-game advantage in the loss column. I like the Astros to be more aggressive on Monday night and sneak out a win to open the series.

Take the Astros with the money line.

Prediction: Houston -142

Full-Game Total Pick

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The Astros have gone over the total in three of Verlander's last five starts. As a team, they have gone over the total in seven of their last 12 games. The Astros are fifth in baseball in runs per game this season as well. The Orioles have gone over the total in eight of their last 12 games. They are sixth in baseball in runs per game this season. Additionally, they are averaging nearly a run more per game on the road than they are at home this season. I expect a game that will get past the total with two of baseball's top-hitting teams squaring off.

Take the over.

Prediction: Over 8.5

Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.

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