The Houston Astros (47-28) will face the Detroit Tigers (32-43) to continue their four-game series on Saturday, and the Tigers have a chance to steal away the season series between these American League foes. Despite being underdogs in all three games in Houston back in April, Detroit earned an unlikely sweep. The Astros are playing on a much different level now than they were then, though, having won 11 in a row entering Friday’s game. The Tigers won three in a row entering this series, but they haven’t been above .500 since Tuesday, April 6.
Free Picks: Houston Astros vs Detroit Tigers
McCullers Jr. looks to get right against his season’s biggest foe
Almost two and a half months ago, Lance McCullers Jr. was unexpectedly lit up by a Detroit Tigers offense that has, expected or not, hardly lit up anybody this season. Detroit tagged McCullers for six earned runs on four hits and three walks back on April 14, handing him the loss and clinching a road sweep for the Tigers.
We can’t say for sure how revengeful McCullers is, but he’ll have his crack at payback on Saturday. On the road, the Astros sit as -217 money line favorites (10Bet) among the day’s MLB picks, while the Tigers are +170 money line underdogs (10Bet).
Detroit counters on the mound with Casey Mize, the first overall pick from the 2018 draft who is already rounding into form as a front-end MLB starter. Mize owns a 2-1 record and 3.09 ERA over his past seven starts, with five quality starts (six-plus innings, three or fewer earned runs) in that span. He did face the Astros during their April series, beating them with seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball.
The problem is, will any of that matter? Sure, Mize has been good recently. And yes, his lone career start against Houston was great. But the Astros are, frankly, playing on another planet right now.
They entered Friday night’s game as winners of 11 in a row, which is the longest active streak in the majors. They’re also 20-4 since May 30, which is the best record in baseball in that time.
How are they doing this? The obvious answer is their offense, which has a team slash line of .323/.394/.559 in the past 13 games. That equates to an OPS+ of roughly 165, meaning their team is producing offense at a rate that’s 65 percent above league average. Staggering, right?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be totally surprised, given that the Astros have a lot of veteran players with experience as winners. Their entire infield (Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman), as well as outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Martin Maldonado, are in strong position to make the all-star team. Houston is literally a star-studded group, and it’s playing to its potential right now.
Detroit, meanwhile, doesn’t have even one position player in line to make the all-star team. That’s how wide of a talent gap there is between these two clubs right now. Is Mize going to be able to do enough to overcome that? It’s true he’s done it before, but Houston wasn’t the red-hot hitting machine then that it is now. We like the Astros to win, and in this BetPicks prediction we’ll even suggest ponying up to the -1.5 run line (-132 at 10Bet) to increase your potential payout a bit.
- Houston is 10-0 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in eight of the Astros’ past 10 games
- Detroit is 6-4 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in seven of the Tigers’ past 10 games
More MLB Free Pickssee more
The Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals continue a three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday, August 4 at 8:10 p.m. ET, with Chicago’s Lucas Giolito expected to face Kansas City’s Carlos Hernandez.
The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox continue a three-game set at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, August 4 at 7:10 p.m. ET, with Detroit’s Casey Mize expected to face Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds begin a two-game series at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday, August 3 at 7:10 p.m. ET, with Minnesota’s Kenta Maeda expected to face Cincinnati’s Tyler Mahle.
After a Friday night victory from the Nationals, Washington looks to keep rolling against their National League rival Chicago Cubs.
Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).