Wednesday night will feature an interleague battle of West teams as the Houston Astros (6-4) travel to Chase Field to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks (3-8). This is the second of a three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 9:10 pm ET.
In the first game of the series, the Astros were victorious by a final score of 8-2. Houston was able to chase Madison Bumgarner relatively early as he gave up eight runs (seven earned) in 4 1/3 innings. For the Astros, both Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa homered in the win.
The pitching matchup for Wednesday’s contest features Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 5.40 ERA) taking the mound for the Astros against the Diamondbacks’ Robbie Ray (0-2, 8.64 ERA).
According to FanDuel, the moneyline for this one comes in with the Astros as the favorites, despite playing on the road, at -162. The Diamondbacks sit at +140. The over/under for total runs scored sits at 9.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Astros have been the better team early this season. Houston currently ranks second in baseball, averaging 5.78 runs per game. For the Diamondbacks, they come in at 29th averaging 2.70 runs.
Defensively, the Astros once again come out ahead. Their pitching ranks eighth overall in earned run average at 3.49. Arizona comes into this one with a team ERA of 5.44.
Astros Hope McCullers Can Stay In The Zone
After losing Gerrit Cole in the offseason and with Justin Verlander currently shelved with a forearm strain, the Astros are in dire need of good starting pitching. Despite missing all of last year after Tommy John surgery, Lance McCullers Jr. is being tasked to be one of the Astros’ main starters this season.
While he has shown signs of brilliance in his first two games, he really has to rein in his command. In his last game, a 9-6 win over the Angels, McCullers got a no-decision after going four innings and allowing six hits, four earned runs and walking four. In fact, in his first two outings, he has walked seven.
With a bullpen comprised of almost all rookies (Ryan Pressly is the only one with more than a year of service time), the Astros need McCullers to work deeper into this game.
Carlos Correa has been scorching hot to start the season. In Tuesday’s contest, he went 3-for-3 with a home run and reached base all five times he came to the plate. On the season, he is hitting .389/.488/.639 with two home runs, six runs batted in and four runs scored.
Diamondbacks Need Ray To Perform
At 3-8, this is not the start that the Diamondbacks envisioned for the season, especially after acquiring ace Madison Bumgarner. If they are going to turn it around, though, they have to be better in all areas of the game.
That starts, in part, with Wednesday’s starter, Robbie Ray. After looking solid in summer camp, he has had a miserable two starts. In those games, he has gone 8 1/3 innings, allowing eight earned runs and walking nine (equates to an 8.64 ERA and 2.16 WHIP).
Ray has a track record of pitching better than he has, but the Diamondbacks need him to turn it around quickly.
The Diamondbacks have struggled to score runs and need some of their stars to step up. Ketel Marte (.286) and Starling Marte (.281) have hit for decent averages, but the two only have one home run and four runs batted in combined. For two of the team’s bigger stars, that isn’t going to cut it.
The Diamondbacks as a whole only have two home runs this season. If they can’t score and their pitching continues to struggle, it could mean for a long season ahead of them.
Taking The Astros To Win
At +140, I really want to take the Diamondbacks in this one, but Robbie Ray has just not inspired a lot of confidence early on. Throw on top of that the fact that the Astros have already shown they can hit lefty pitching after roughing up Madison Bumgarner, and it could be a long night for Ray.
Granted, there are no certainties with Lance McCullers Jr. or the Astros bullpen, either, but at this point, I like the Astros chances a little better. For my money, I am taking Houston at -162.