Odds Astros vs. Nationals
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The Houston Astros have been among the top teams for some time now, and even with the departure of Carlos Correa this past offseason, not much has changed. They come tied for the third best record in the league.
Their opponent Friday has a very different franchise trajectory. Not so long ago, the Washington Nationals were at the top and perennial contenders. However, things can change quickly as the stars leave and injuries escalate.
This season should be the start of something new. The Nationals’ young talent was up, but they weren’t quite as developed as the higher ups had expected.
With that said, this line is a bit odd considering the circumstances surrounding each of these teams. Is this sentence too good to be true? Or are the Nats ready to steal the series opener? Let’s dive in to find out.
Expect Astro to Get to Gray
This may not come as a surprise, but the Astros lineup has been one of the best since its inception. They will enter their fifth fight in the league at wRC+ and seventh in above-average offensive strikes.
Their lineup is a mix of young stud talent and all-star caliber veterans, as the likes of Jordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker begin to lead the club offensively.
However, they will be without one key hitter in this game in rookie star Jeremy Peña. Peña is the odds-on favorite for AL Rookie of the Year and has filled the big shortstop positions quite well. While his presence will be missed, the Astros have plenty of bats to get to Josiah Gray.
Gray’s stuff has translated well to big league levels, and we’ve seen progress so far. The curveball and slider each have a smell rate of 48.5% and have helped it garner some quality events.
However, Gray runs into trouble when his command fails, and it has become a common occurrence this season. His running speed is among the bottom 20% of the league, and his lack of command also causes a lot of errors within the zone as well.
While Gray’s stuff might be great, if it’s not placed well, it’s going to take a hard hit. It shows in the underlying figures, as Gray will enter this start in the bottom 35% of all eligible pitchers in average allowable exit speed and hit rate.
This Astros lineup will cost him a fortune for every fault in the location.
Valdez to Silence Nats Bats
Framber Valdez is quietly one of the best pitchers in baseball, and this season is no different. He will enter this start with a 3.34 ERA through the starting six.
While that ERA may not be the most striking, Valdez excels at producing soft contact with his incredible ballast and elite curve ball.
He sits in the top 40% of the league in hit rate and average exit speed. In addition, he is in the top 4% of pitchers at barrel level. It was the most telling of how effective his armament was at producing poor contact.
Now, it’s not just the Valdez Show, as the Nationals have a threat in their ranks. Juan Soto has started to pick it up of late with two homers in his last three games. Josh Bell and Yadiel Hernandez have carried the club offensively but have started to settle down. And we can’t forget the old Nelson Cruz, who smashed his left-handed pitch during his career.
National is not ignored here. The fact is that Valdez’s arsenal is designed to hold ranks and limit damage. Nats only has a few threats Valdez needs to watch out for. He has the potential to set sail on this excursion.
All signs point to Houston’s victory in this match. Astros should give Valdez a lot of running support, as they will have a lot of traffic at bases around Gray.
Meanwhile, Valdez’s cunning stuff will make Washington’s young line-up fit for the night.
This line should be much higher, and I would happily support Houston at this price.
Choose: Astros -155
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