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The Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks are each in the thick of the playoff picture entering the final few weeks of the season. The Astros hold a 3.5 game lead in the AL West that paced them to a third straight playoff berth. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks sit just outside the playoff picture in the NL West and wild card race. Houston is set to send left-hander Dallas Keuchel (11-10, 3.59 ERA) while Arizona is countering with left-hander Robbie Ray (5-2, 4.18 ERA). The Astros lead the season series 2-1.
Ray hitting stride on the mound
Beyond the Diamondbacks trekking toward the playoffs, the former All-Star left-hander has experienced a 2018 season where he has continued to work his way back to tip-top form. He has made strides over the last several weeks as he has allowed three or fewer runs in each of the last seven starts while giving up more than two runs just once over that stretch. This effort has picked it up a notch down the stretch of the regular season as he has been strong in September as he holds a 1-0 record with a 1.46 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 12.1 innings pitched. He has been lights out posting six or more strikeouts in six out of his last seven starts.
All of this comes after he spent several weeks on the disabled list due to a right oblique strain that forced him to miss May and almost the entire month of June. Since his return to the rotation, he has been a key part of the Diamondbacks solid rotation that has ranked fourth in the league with a 3.63 ERA, tied for fifth with 80 quality starts, seventh with a 1.23 WHIP, and ninth with a .237 opposing batting average. Their starting rotation has anchored much of their success this season This has seen their starters sit at ninth overall with a 3.74 ERA and third in strikeouts at this point in the season. This will mark his first start of the year against the Astros.
Keuchel looking to recapture his Cy Young form
It has been a bit of a roller-coaster type year for the Astros star left-hander as he has pushed through the year. The former Cy Young award winner has had some trouble finding his way toward settling into his groove that helped him achieve a large amount of success in two out of the last three campaigns where he was among the best pitchers in the league. The 2018 campaign has seen him bounce back and forth between being an effective pitcher while experiencing struggles in stretches.
Keuchel has appeared to find some more effectiveness in the second half of the season holding a 4-2 record with a 3.27 ERA in 10 starts over that stretch. This saw him give up three or fewer runs in eight out of those 10 outings while pitching at least six innings all but twice. This is the first time that he has pitched against the Diamondbacks this year, but he has had a fair amount of success over the last few outings that would suggest that he could be in line for a solid performance. Houston has remained among the most productive in the league in September being fifth in runs scored (58) and sixth in home runs (16). This has also seen them score at least five runs in seven out of their last eight games played.
- Astros are 5-1 in Keuchel’s last 6 starts during game 1 of a series.
- Astros are 5-0 in their last 5 home games.
- Astros are 5-1 in their last 6 interleague home games.
- Diamondbacks are 1-5 in their last 6 road games.
- Diamondbacks are 1-5 in their last 6 during game 1 of a series.
- Diamondbacks are 1-7 in Rays last 8 interleague starts
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This is a battle between two established pitchers, but the Astros hold one of the league’s most potent offense that holds top-tier production throughout. This could prove to be troublesome for Ray as the Astros are the league’s most productive team against left-handers ranking first in runs scored and batting average along with being third in home runs. All of this should bode well for Houston.
Prediction: Houston -170
Full-Game Total Pick
Although the Astros have had plenty of success this year against left-handers, this is a matchup between two All-Star caliber pitchers. It should be more of a pitching duel despite Houston holding the edge in this showdown. In the other words, it could see both lefties have a solid outing.
Prediction: Under 8
First Five Innings Side Pick
Prediction: Keuchel looking to recapture his Cy Young form