The Oakland Athletics will look to stay relevant in the AL West standings when they begin a three-game series against the Houston Astros Tuesday night. Houston has taken five of six head-to-head meetings against Oakland this season. The Houston Astros are -135 over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday.
The Astros will begin Tuesday half a game behind the Seattle Mariners in the AL West. Even on the heels of a five-game winning streak, the Astros are behind Seattle in the standings, so a division title won’t come as easy as it did last season.
Oakland, meanwhile, has been one of the more surprising teams in baseball this season, although few have taken notice because they’re still in fourth place in the AL West. The A’s begin Tuesday two games over .500, which is a significant improvement over last year. Alas, they are eight games behind Mariners, so it’ll be a challenge for them to stay competitive all season.
Steady As She Goes
Lance McCullers will get the start for the Astros on Tuesday. While he’s not performed at the level of Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole this season, McCullers has given the Astros a steady and consistent presence in their rotation. He enters Tuesday’s start 7-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 13 starts. McCullers has had a couple rough starts the season, but most of the time he puts his team in a good position to win the game.
McCullers has made two starts against Oakland this season, earning the win in both outings. In those two starts, he’s allowed two runs in 12 innings of work. More importantly, he has good career numbers against most of the A’s best hitters. Jed Lowrie is just 1 for 12 in his career against McCullers while Khris Davis is a modest 4 for 14. The player to watch for Oakland is Marcus Semien, who is not having a great season but is 6 for 11 against McCullers.
One To Watch
Opposing McCullers and the Astros for Oakland will be young righty Daniel Mengden. The 25-year old is in the midst of what could be his breakout season. In 13 starts, Mengden is 6-5 with a 3.45 ERA, helping to anchor Oakland’s rotation alongside Sean Manaea. He’s not an overpowering pitcher and doesn’t have gaudy strikeout numbers. But he has good control and doesn’t hurt himself with walks.
Of course, he’ll be facing the same Astros lineup that knocked him out after 2.1 innings back in April. Mengden did better the next time he faced the Astros in March, but he still took the loss after giving up two runs over 6.2 innings. The trio of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa have all had their way with Mengden, combining to go 18 for 34 against him. The Astros are also averaging over six runs per game in their last five games, so nearly everyone in their lineup is swinging a good bat right now.
Too Much To Overcome
The A’s are legitimately solid, so this is far from a slam-dunk for the Astros. That being said, Mengden’s lack of success against Altuve, Bregman, and Correa is too much to ignore. Combine that with the consistency McCullers brings and it’s hard to go against Houston in this game. Take the Houston Astros -135 over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday.