Featured Video from Scott Reichel
When and where: July 19, 2019, Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX, 8:10 PM ET
The Texas Rangers desperately seek a turnaround performance when they visit Minute Maid Park for a tough run-in with the AL West-leading Houston Astros. After losing their last four straight games, the Rangers could really turn their situation around if they’re able to upset the Astros on the road. However, it will take a herculean effort with Justin Verlander slated to start on the mound for the Astros. In response, the Rangers are expected to roll out left-handed pitcher Mike Minor.
Are the Rangers in trouble?
The Rangers have slipped from second place to barely clinging to third in the AL West division. That fairy tale season that has been the talk of the league is swirling around the sides of a toilet and dangerously close to being sucked into a deep black hole, never to be seen and heard from again. The Rangers have lost their last four straight games in meetings with the Astros and Diamondbacks.
However, it’s the manner that their losing in that’s really beginning to raise eyebrows around the league. They have lost by seven-plus runs in their last three games, including Wednesday’s ugly run-in with the Diamondbacks, who blew them out on their home field, 19-4.
The Rangers have lost by a 40-10 point differential in their last three games combined. With the Los Angeles Angels surging on their heels and a three-game meeting with the Astros next on the schedule, the Rangers could be in serious trouble.
Minor will try to help dig them out of a hole when he faces the Astros on Friday. The veteran left-handed pitcher enters the fray with a 2.73 ERA and an 8-4 record. He’ll try to put forth a better performance than he offered in his last meeting with the Astros, who heaped four runs in five innings on him. The Rangers have lost the last two games Minor has appeared in.
Astros’ defense shows up
After looking like a hot mess in back-to-back games against the Angels, the Astros finally responded with a bounce-back win on Wednesday. More importantly, they actually played great defense in an effort to slow down the red-hot Angels offense. That is obviously the big takeaway from the game in the big-picture perspective. If the Astros play well defensively, they’re a very tough team to beat for anyone.
We simply haven’t seen it as much recently, as they are still 3-4 on the other side of the All-Star break. They’ll need that same effort to survive a slew of tough upcoming series meetings against the Rangers, Oakland Athletics, and Cleveland Indians. They are still only four games ahead of the A’s in first place in the AL West. So even the slightest slip-up could lead to a dramatic power shift.
Verlander gets his chance to make some noise on Friday against the Rangers’ batting lineup. He certainly was able to do so in his last meeting with the Rangers, who were held to only two runs in six innings. He is an even 1-1 in his last two outings while boasting an 11-4 overall record on the season. The 36-year-old veteran pitcher is also throwing a 2.98 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.
- Astros are 14-6 in Verlander’s last 20 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance.
- Astros are 9-4 in Verlander’s last 13 home starts.
- Astros are 45-20 in Verlander’s last 65 starts on grass.
- Astros are 46-21 in Verlander’s last 67 starts.
- Rangers are 2-7 in Minor’s last 9 starts during game 1 of a series.
- Rangers are 1-4 in Minor’s last 5 starts against teams in the American League West.
- Rangers are 0-4 in their last 4 overall.
- Rangers are 0-4 in their last 4 games on grass.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Something is clearly wrong with the Rangers right now, which doesn’t bode well for their slated three-game trip to Minute Maid Park. It definitely doesn’t bode well for their chances on Friday with the “Rangers Destroyer” Verlander on the mound. The Astros pitcher is a perfect 3-0 against the Rangers this year. In 24 innings on the mound, he has allowed 14 hits and seven runs, while amassing a whopping 27 strikeouts, culminating into a 2.63 ERA.
That means a Rangers offense that was already struggling will have to do something it hasn’t managed to do all season: Beat Verlander.
The Astros will also see this game as an opportunity to get even with the Rangers after losing the last two consecutive head-to-head meetings. They’ll have the better roster, crowd and momentum in their favor when they step on the field. If they truly have their defensive mojo back, this game could quickly get out of hand. I like the Astros to strike first by getting even with the Rangers in the series opener.
Prediction: Houston Astros (-226)
Full-Game Total Pick
The over is 5-1 in the last six head-to-head meetings between the Rangers and Astros. Don’t expect much in the way of an offensive effort from the Rangers with Verlander on the mound, but I’m expecting the Astros to have their way with a Rangers defense giving up an average of 13.33 runs in their last three games. Even a talented pitcher like Minor couldn’t save the Rangers the last time he faced the Astros. Give me the over betting total here.
Prediction: Over (8.5)