Saturday AL West Battle: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels

Ryan K

The defending champs haven’t skipped a beat in the 2018 season.  Currently leading their division by 5 games, they are looking for a strong finish en route to trying to repeat.  The Angels, on the other hand, have had a rather disappointing season and after a 3-1 loss to the Astros in game one, now trail by 15 games in the division.  The two will meet again on Saturday as the Houston Astros (65-35) travel to Angel Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Angels (49-49). The Astros will be sending out righty JustinVerlander (9-5, 2.29 ERA) to face off against the Angels’ Nick Tropeano (3-4, 4.83 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 pm ET.

The moneyline for Saturday’s game is set at the HoustonAstros -166 and the Los Angeles Angels +156.  The over/under for runs scored is set at 8.

Astros Looking To Distance Themselves From Rest Of Division

To get to where they are currently, the Astros have relied on phenomenal pitching.  Currently, the Astros have the lowest ERA of starting pitchers in all of baseball and rank second in bullpen ERA.  A big contributor to that has been ace, Justin Verlander. On the season, Verlander is 9-5 with a 2.29 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .184 against him.  In 137.2 innings, he has 172 strikeouts and only 24 walks. One thing that has bit him at times is the long ball. He has given up 16 home runs on the season. This was especially true in his last start.  In arguably his worst start of the year, Verlander went 6 innings against the Detroit Tigers, giving up 5 earned runs (including 4 home runs). He did manage to strike out 12 in the performance, but the homers were alarming.  He will look to get back on track against the Angels.

Offensively, JoseAltuve continues to hit.  He is currently hitting .332/.394/.470 with a .865 OPS.  He has 9 home runs, 44 runs batted in, 63 runs scored and has added 14 stolen bases. Leading up to the All-Star break, the only player hotter than Altuve was Alex Bregman.  On the season, Bregman is now hitting .288/.389/.539 with a .928 OPS. He has 24 home runs, 64 runs batted in and 67 runs scored (leads the team in all three categories). Albeit in limited at bats, both players have had some success against Nick Tropeano in the past.  Altuve is 5 for 9 with a home run and Bregman is 1 for 2.

Angels Looking For Positives In Otherwise Frustrating Season

When the Angels acquired Shohei Ohtani, Zack Cosart, and Ian Kinsler before the beginning of the season, they were hoping for a lot better of a season than the one they are currently in.  In what seems like another wasted season in Mike Trout’s career, they now have to decide what pieces they might want to sell off prior to the deadline.

Speaking of Trout, he is off to another amazing season that very well could earn him a MVP award.  On the season, Trout is hitting .310/.454/.606 with a 1.060 OPS. He has 25 home runs, 50 runs batted in and has scored 71 runs.  Looking at Saturday’s matchup, he has gotten Verlander for a home run before, but otherwise has struggled as he is only hitting .042 against him in 24 at bats. After an 0-4 on Friday, he will be looking to bounce back.

The Angels will be sending Nick Tropeano out to the mound Saturday.  On the season, he is 3-4 with a 4.83 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and opponents are hitting .262 against him.  In 54 innings of work he has struck out 44 and walked 20. He will be making his first start since the middle of June, when he went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.  In his last major league start, on June 10, he went 4.1 innings, allowing 5 earned runs and striking out 2 in a 7-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Astros Continue Rolling

 Any team that has Mike Trout on it always has a chance, but there isn’t much else going for the Angels in this one.  Verlander has been dominant against them in the past and the Astros have had success against Tropeano, who will be making his first major league start in over a month. Anything can happen in baseball, as the Tigers showed in Verlander’s last start, but smart money is on the Astros. Take them at -166.

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