The Boston Red Sox are closing in on the top spot in the American League East, just a game back of the New York Yankees. On the other hand, the Houston Astros are sitting firmly atop the AL West, with an 11 game lead for the division lead. More impressively, the Astros also boast the best record in the MLB. However, they have cooled off of late. With David Price having spent the first month-and-a-half of the season on the disabled list, the Red Sox are hoping that he can earn his third quality start of the season. Houston’s Joe Musgrove has been wildly inconsistent in his last three starts and the Astros will be hoping he can dial it in tonight for Sunday Night Baseball.
Taking a look at recent trends, the Red Sox lost on Saturday and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. As for the Astros, they got the win but are just 4-6 in their last 10.
Date – Sunday June 18th, 2017
Time – 8:00PM ET
Line – Houston -120
Why The Red Sox Might Win
David Price has been plagued with inconsistent performances since being reinstalled from the disabled list. The issue for him has really two-fold: walks and home runs. He has given up at least one home run in every start this season (five in total). That’s a lot. He’s also had trouble with walks of late as he’s given up eight in his last two outings (four in each start).
However, in seven career starts against Houston, Price is 4-2 with a 2.68 ERA, 61 strikeouts, and 0.93 WHIP in 50 1/3 innings. Additionally, Price has been able to contain Houston’s batters in the past for the most part, with the exception of Brian McCann, who has a .345/.367/.655 slash line against Price. Boston’s bullpen is also tops in the MLB and will be able to provide relief to Price should he struggle early. With Boston neck-in-neck with the Yankees for the AL East crown (due in part to the Yankees’ current five-game losing streak), the Red Sox should have a bit of extra motivation to win against an inferior pitcher.
Why The Astros Might Win
Tonight’s game will be the first career start for Joe Musgrove against the Boston Red Sox. However, Musgrove will likely be limited and worked back slowly after returning from the 10-day disabled list, which means that Houston’s bullpen must eat up a few solid innings. The only Boston batter with plate appearances against Musgrove is Mitch Moreland, who went 2/5 with a double and 2 RBIs. While Houston is 23-15 in home games, Musgrove hasn’t fared as well on his part, with a 2-5 record and a 5.05 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and eight home runs allowed in just 41 innings pitched. He’s allowing opponent batters to slash .280/.341/.510. However, it helps that Musgrove induces his fair share of ground balls, which should allow Houston’s defense to turn these batted balls into outs. If the Houston offense can produce against Price, it will help Houston’s chances of winning this game immensely. The Astros boast a +107 run differential, second in the MLB only to the Yankees.
With Musgrove recently coming off the disabled list and Price having had four starts after coming off the disabled list himself, Musgrove may have the tougher time in terms of stamina. Additionally, Musgrove’s lack of overpowering stuff leaves a lot to be desired, as he only has a swinging strike percentage of 6.9 while allowing batters to make contact 86 percent of the time, which should provide Boston’s offense with plenty of opportunities. Simply put, Musgrove has not been able to fool opposing batters, and this trend will likely carry on into tonight’s game as well.
You also have to factor the Price/LHP situation here. The Astros are 46-23 on the year but are 37-15 against righties and just 9-8 against lefties. That leaves you with a 17.4 unit profit if you’ve been betting them against RHP and a -2.8 loss if you’ve been betting them against lefties. That’s a concern here. Oddly enough, the Astros have the sixth-best on-base percentage against left-handed pitching but for whatever reason, it’s not translating into wins for them.
Pick: Boston +111
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