The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels will conclude a two-game series in Monterrey, Mexico, with a Sunday matinee. After winning Saturday’s game 14-2, the Astros are heavy -210 favorites to win Sunday.
Few will be shocked to find the Astros at the top of the AL West standings in early May. Saturday’s win snapped a brief two-game skid and brought Houston five games over .500 on the season and two games clear of the struggling Mariners, who are trying to keep pace.
Meanwhile, the Angels are 3.5 games behind Houston in the AL West. Despite being three games under .500, the Halos had won four straight games and six of their last seven games prior to Saturday’s loss, so they’ve played well over the last week and are trying to remain in contention despite plenty of injuries to key players.
The Dark Knight Falls
The Dark Knight himself Matt Harvey will start for the Angels on Sunday. Thus far, Los Angeles has not been rewarded for taking a chance on Harvey, who has pitched to a 6.54 ERA through his first six starts of the season. However, Harvey has pitched better his last two outings, giving up just three runs on five hits in 13 innings over those two starts. Those two starts give the Angels a glimmer of hope that he has something left in the tank.
Of course, Harvey will face a difficult challenge in the form of Houston’s lineup. The Astros scored 14 runs on Saturday and have a number of their big bats clicking right now. New leftfielder Michael Brantley, specifically, is hitting .429 with an OPS of 1.121 over the past week. George Springer and Carlos Correa are also heating up while Alex Bregman has homered four times in his last four games, including two long balls on Saturday.
King of the Hill
Opposing the Angels on Sunday will be ace Justin Verlander. In seven starts this season, Verlander is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA, as his recent contract extension is already paying off for the Astros. The former Cy Young winner has gone four consecutive starts in which he’s only allowed one run, striking out 34 in 27 innings over that span, so he’s starting to find a rhythm on the mound and dominate opposing lineups.
Perhaps more importantly, Verlander has excellent numbers against current Angels hitters. Even Mike Trout is just 5 for 36 (.139) with 10 strikeouts in his career against Verlander. Albert Pujols has had some success against Verlander, going 10 for 36 with five extra-base hits. He’s also hitting .300 with four extra-base hits in his last five games. But no one else on the Angels roster has had any history of success against Verlander.
With a -210 money line, it’s sometimes advantageous to take the underdog and get a bigger payout. But it’s hard to find a good reason to do that. Verlander is red hot right now, and so is the Houston lineup. Whether the game turns into a pitcher’s duel or a slugfest, Houston has the edge. Bet on the Astros -210 to beat the Angels on Sunday.