Texas Rangers at Houston Astro Game 1 Pick & Predictions
It's an All-Lone Star State showdown in the American League championship series, with the defending World Series champion Astros going head-to-head with the Rangers. The action kicks off with Game 1 on a Sunday night in Houston.
It's a matchup you won't want to miss, featuring the veteran Justin Verlander on the mound for the Astros, squaring off against the southpaw Jordan Montgomery representing the Rangers. Let's dive into this game and see where the betting value lies.
MLB Betting Odds
The MLB betting lines for this matchup opened with Houston as favorites at around -135 over Texas, with an over/under set at 8.5 runs. As the early betting action poured in, the Astros saw a slight boost, moving to -150.
When it comes to the ALCS, Houston is favored at -140, with the Rangers as underdogs at +120.
ALCS Game 1 Betting Preview
Texas earned its spot in the ALCS by sweeping Tampa Bay in the wild-card round in just two games. They followed that impressive feat with another sweep, this time against top-seeded Baltimore, taking three games. The Rangers are riding a perfect 5-0 record in the postseason.
During the regular season, the Rangers defied expectations, winning 90 games and surpassing their over/under of 81.5 wins. At the start of the season, they were considered a long shot with odds of around +2000 to win the American League pennant.
On the other side, the Astros, as the No. 2 seed in the American League, had a bye through the wild-card round. They then secured their spot in this ALCS by defeating Minnesota in four games during the divisional round. While Houston also won 90 games this season, they fell short of their over/under of 96 wins. As defending champions, they entered the season with odds of around +300 to win the pennant.
Remarkably, the Astros are back in the ALCS for the seventh consecutive season, while the Rangers are making their first appearance since 2011. Houston had the upper hand in the regular season series, winning nine out of thirteen matchups against Texas.
Game 1 Pitching Match-Up
Heading to the mound for the Astros is the experienced Justin Verlander. He's already made one start this postseason, delivering an outstanding performance in Game 1 of the ALDS against Minnesota. Verlander shut out the Twins, allowing only four hits over six innings, contributing to Houston's 6-4 victory. In the last stretch of the regular season, he maintained good form, limiting opponents to just four runs and 13 hits across his last three starts, spanning 19 innings.
Since joining the Astros in a deadline trade with the Mets, Verlander has made a significant impact, with Houston boasting an 8-4 record with him on the mound and an impressive 3-0 in his last three starts. In his one start against Texas this season, which took place on September 6, Verlander conceded just two runs, one of which was unearned, and four hits in seven innings, securing a 12-4 win for Houston.
On the Rangers' side, left-hander Jordan Montgomery takes the mound for his third start this postseason. He initially showcased his prowess by blanking the Rays, allowing six hits over seven innings, guiding the Rangers to a 4-0 victory. However, in his second postseason start against the Orioles, he was less fortunate, giving up four earned runs and nine hits in just four innings. Despite this, Texas triumphed with an 11-8 win.
Montgomery's record since joining the Rangers in a deadline trade with St. Louis stands at 6-7. However, it's important to note that a record of 8-5 or even 9-4 may better represent his overall performance based on his game-by-game showings. In his lone start against the Astros this season, back when he was still with the Cardinals in June, Montgomery impressed by allowing just one earned run and six hits through 6 2/3 innings, helping St. Louis secure a 4-2 victory.
Splits With the Sticks
When it comes to hitting against right-handed pitching, the Rangers held their own this season, boasting a .261 batting average, a .334 team OBP, and a .456 team slugging percentage. Meanwhile, the Astros excelled against left-handed pitching, slashing .279/.339/.470.
Examining the bullpen performance, the Astros' bullpen posted a 3.56 ERA this season, accompanied by a 1.27 WHIP and a 2.70 K/BB ratio. On the flip side, the Rangers' bullpen maintained a 4.77 ERA, with a 1.27 WHIP and a 2.76 K/BB ratio. However, it's worth noting that the Texas bullpen has been impressive in the postseason, allowing just four runs over 16 2/3 innings of work.
MLB Betting Trends
During the regular season, the Rangers held a 40-41 record on the road and performed well against right-handed starters, going 63-57. On the other hand, the Astros had a 39-42 record at home but dominated against left-handed starters, with a 28-21 record.
For those interested in totals betting, the over hit in 81 of the Rangers' games during the regular season. Conversely, the under prevailed in 83 of the Astros' games, with the under hitting in 46 of 79 games at Minute Maid Park.
Lastly, in matchups between the Rangers and Astros this season, the over hit in 8 of 11 games.
Rangers vs. Astros ALCS Game 1 Pick
After evaluating the key factors, we give the edge in the pitching matchup to Verlander, although it's a closely contested battle. In addition to Verlander's prowess, Houston also holds advantages in hitting and the bullpen comparison.
However, considering the current price, it doesn't quite justify such heavy favoritism. As experienced bettors, we always seek value when dealing with the dime lines in baseball. With that in mind, we see betting value in taking Texas as the underdog for Sunday's matchup.
Best of luck with your wagers!