Total Pick: Astros at Diamondbacks 8/6/20
Houston Astros (6-5) at Arizona Diamondbacks (4-8)
Starting Pitchers: Brandon Bielak (2-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) vs. Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
When: 7:05 p.m., Thursday, August 6
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix
Moneyline: HOU -124/ARI +114 (MyBookie - Deposit $200 and get $200 FREE!)
Runline: Astros -1.5/D-Backs +1.5
Where on earth did that come from? Prior to Wednesday, taking the Diamondbacks to put up a low number had been one of the most reliable bets in baseball, as Arizona hadn’t scored more than five runs in a game all season and had done that just once in 11 games. The D-Backs did it in a single inning against the Astros, getting eight runs in the fourth inning to turn a game they were losing into a laugher.
Now, can the Diamondbacks build off of it and turn this into a trend? Among teams who haven’t had a COVID-related postponement, only Pittsburgh and Cleveland have scored fewer runs than Arizona’s 43, and a significant reason for that is that the Diamondbacks aren’t doing much at the plate in terms of power or speed.
Arizona ranks last in the majors in home runs with six, and you don’t even need to take out the COVID teams as a qualifier for that stat. Even the infected Cardinals, who have played just five games, have as many home runs as the D-Backs do. When you’re not hitting a lot of home runs, you need to make up for it with speed, but Arizona doesn’t have that either, as the D-Backs have stolen just two bases all season long, putting them in a tie for 23rd with two COVID teams behind them. The two healthy teams behind the D-Backs, Boston, and Minnesota, both rank in the top 10 in terms of homers.
The one thing the Diamondbacks do have going for them is that they’re finding gaps well and taking extra bases, as they’ve notched 22 doubles on the season. But that also serves as a further indictment: the Diamondbacks have only knocked in 40 runs on the season despite having 22 of their runners start out halfway home.
It’s rare to get a matchup where the starting pitcher has never faced anyone in the opposing team’s lineup, but that’s the situation that we’ve got here, as none of Houston’s hitters have ever faced Zac Gallen. That isn’t just in the starting lineup, either: nobody in blue and orange has ever gone up against Gallen in a major-league game.
That creates an interesting dynamic in a game that involves what might be the most potent offense in the American League. The Twins and Yankees might make an argument in terms of sheer power at the plate, but Houston brings the total package, leading the American League in runs and excelling at not getting itself out. With a team average of .254 and 15 home runs, the Astros can hit for both average and for power, and they’re the most patient team in the majors. Houston leads the majors in walks with 55 and is one of 14 teams with fewer than 100 strikeouts on the season. In short, the Astros don’t try to do too much at the plate and will take whatever the opposition is willing to give them.
That could make for a tough matchup for Gallen, a young pitcher who has missed bats this season but also had problems with his control. In his first start against San Diego, Gallen walked five, and a team like Houston can make him pay if those mistakes occur again.
Anyone hoping to see Zach Greinke against his former team (which Fox was probably hoping would be the case) will be disappointed here, as the Astros have instead opted to give the ball to Brandon Bielak and save Greinke for Oakland later in the week. How the Astros plan to use Bielak is uncertain. He’s never started a game before but has picked up a pair of wins in relief, going two innings in one appearance and 3.1 in another. Houston could opt for an opener strategy, or the Astros could choose to ride Bielak as long as they can and hope that either he gets the job done or the offense can give him enough support for it not to matter.
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- The Astros are 15-6 in their past 21 games where they were coming off a loss.
- The Astros are 1-5 in their past six interleague games.
- The Diamondbacks are 11-4 in their past 15 interleague games.
- The Diamondbacks are 2-5 in their past seven games.
- The over is 5-1-1 in the Astros’ past seven road games.
- The over is 12-2-2 in the Astros’ past 16 games as a favorite.
- The over has hit in the teams’ past four meetings.
The roof might open up on Thursday, as the temperature is supposed to be 85 degrees at the first pitch in Phoenix.
To me, the best bet on the table is the “Over.” I think a bullpen game is the wrong call for the Astros given that they used four pitchers on Wednesday, and I think they care a lot more about the weekend series with division rival Oakland than they do about beating Arizona. Throw in the Astros’ offense and a relatively low total, and I can see these teams hitting the over as a pretty likely proposition. If you plan on betting baseball all summer, it’s imperative that you’re taking advantage of betting at a shop that offers dime lines. Otherwise, you’re wasting a ton of money!