Stephen Nover Free Saturday Play

On July 15, 2017, in Free Picks, MLB, by Stephen

Twins plus $1.41 at Astros

I’d rather go shark diving without a cage than play against the Houston Astros this season.

But sometimes you just have to step out of your element. This is one of those rare times when the Astros should be faded – especially at this nice underdog price – in a pitching matchup of Ervin Santana versus Joe Musgrove.

Maybe the 34-year-old Santana is due for some regression being 10-6 with a 2.99 ERA. He probably is. But facts are facts and they show Santana to be 6-2 with a 2.19 ERA and 1.03 WHIP on the road this season. He’s also 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA in five career appearances against Houston.

The Twins have the second-fewest road losses in the majors. Minnesota has dropped seven of its past nine away games, though. They are 0-4 versus the Astros this year. The Twins were swept at home by the Astros in embarrassing fashion at the end of May and lost 10-5 in the opening game of this series last night.

Minnesota is highly motivated to defeat the Astros at least once. This is the Twins’ best chance. They were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position Friday night. So they opportunities. Now they get Musgrove. He’s the weak link in the Astros’ rotation with a 4-7 mark and 6.04 ERA. Musgrove isn’t likely to stay in Houston’s starting rotation with Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh set to return.

The right-handed Musgrove is 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in his last three starts giving up 18 runs – including six homers – in his last 15 innings during this three-game span. Musgrove is 2-6 with a 5.40 ERA in nine home starts this season.

The Twins are 20-6 the past 26 times they’ve gone against a righty starter on the road. Minnesota also could get a boost with the expected return from the DL of Joe Mauer.

While the Twins can’t match the Astros’ power, they are the better fielding team (ranking only behind Kansas City in the American League for fewest errors) and have the vastly superior pitcher going backed by All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler.


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