Astros hurler Dallas Keuchel (17-8, 2.56 ERA) was on a Cy Young-caliber tear for most of the season. But Houston’s ace has cooled off at the worst possible time. Keuchel will try to relocate his magic tonight when the Houston Astros (79-71, 50-25 Home) host the Los Angeles Angels (76-73, 32-42 Away) to kick off a massive three-game series this week.
In Keuchel’s last start, he failed to stop the bleeding against a powerful Rangers lineup and was shelled for a career-high nine earned runs in just 4.2 innings. In the end, the Rangers pulled off the four-game sweep and claimed top spot in the AL West. Houston sits just a 1.5 back of Texas, but they’re also only 2.5 games up on L.A. for the second Wild Card spot.
The Angels have managed to stay in the hunt despite entering September with a sub-.500 record. A sweep against Houston would put them back in a playoff spot for the time being, a position they held for much of the season.
Los Angeles will send righty Jered Weaver (7-11, 4.74 ERA) to the mound in game one. Weaver has won just one of his last four decisions, but that was a 3-2 victory over Keuchel and the Astros two weeks ago, in which he gave up just two earned runs over six innings and fanned seven.
Don’t look for Weaver to work too long tonight, though. He’s only pitched into the seventh inning once since returning from a hip injury in early August. This should give these free-swinging Astro bats a chance to rough up a middle-of-the-pack Angel bullpen. In fact, Houston leads the AL with 228 runs scored in the seventh inning or later.
Meanwhile, Mike Trout and the Angels offense are coming off an off night against Tyler Duffey and the Twins. The rookie dominated the LA lineup over eight innings as Minnesota crushed the Angels 8-1.
On paper, Keuchel is a much tougher matchup than Duffey. Throw in the fact that he hasn’t gone three straight games without a win all season, and you have to like the Astros chances to get off on the right foot at home.
Pick: Houston (-195).
(Photo Credit: EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)