Milwaukee Brewers vs. Houston Astros Pick
Milwaukee Brewers (38-29) at Houston Astros (46-22)
When: 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Where: Minute Maid Park
Line: MIL +125/HOU -135
Runline: Brewers +1.5/Astros -1.5 (MyBookie)
Starting Pitchers: Brandon Woodruff (8-1, 3.87 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) vs. Justin Verlander (9-2, 2.31 ERA, 0. 74 WHIP)
Something lit a fire under Brandon Woodruff in May, and it’s been a big help for the Brew Crew, as the Milwaukee hurler has been incredibly consistent for most of the past five weeks. Other than a 12-10 win at Pittsburgh, where he couldn’t get out of the sixth inning, each of the rest of his past eight starts have seen him go five innings or more, hold the opponent to three runs or less and allow the Brewers to walk off the field winners. In fact, the Brewers have now won eight in a row when Woodruff takes the mound.
But are there cracks starting to show for him, or do the Pirates simply have him figured out better than the rest of the National League? Of the 15 earned runs that Woodruff has allowed in his past eight starts, nine of them belonged to Pittsburgh. Given that both of his last two starts were against the Pirates, it’s tough to say whether things aren’t going to be so rosy for Woodruff moving forward, or if he just needs to stay away from Pittsburgh for the time being.
When Justin Verlander is on the mound, you usually feel pretty good about your chances of winning that game if he’s on your side. The Astros have been able to count on Verlander as usual this year, as he’s gone through seven innings in seven of his past 10 starts and hasn’t given up more than five hits in a game since a 4-3 win over the Yankees on April 8. That win was 12 starts ago, which underscores just how steady Verlander has been over the past two months.
But as great as the Astros’ pitcher is, he has had one flaw this season that could be exploited. In all but two of his starts this season, he’s given up at least one home run. He’s conceded 14 on the season in 14 starts, and if the Brewers are able to get men on base when the big fly comes, they could do serious damage. That’s especially true in Milwaukee’s case, because the Brewers are third in the majors and tops in the National League at home runs, hitting 124 on the season.
The Brewers might be third in the majors in home runs, but right behind them are the Astros, who have hit 106 on the season and have actually outscored Milwaukee by 10 runs this year. While Milwaukee’s success comes via the long ball, the Astros are just good hitters in general. Houston has 604 hits this year, ranking third behind Arizona and Minnesota, and only the Twins hit for a higher batting average than the Stros do. Milwaukee either has to keep Houston off the basepaths or step it up on hitting the ball out of the park.
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Once upon a time, these were divisional rivals competing 19 times a season, but they have played just twice since the Astros’ move to the American League in 2013. Prior to that, the teams were seldom competitive at the same time, as they occasionally took turns challenging the Cardinals and Cubs for superiority in the NL Central but were rarely able to string together long-term success. Going even further back, the teams were in opposite situations in 1997, with the Brewers playing in the AL to the Astros’ NL.
- The Brewers are 7-1 in Woodruff’s past eight road starts against a team with a winning record.
- The Brewers are 1-8 in their past nine interleague road games.
- The Astros are 5-1 in their past six against a team above .500.
- The Astros have won Verlander’s past seven Wednesday starts.
- The over is 8-2 in the Brewers’ past 10 against the AL West.
- The under is 4-1 in the Astros’ past 5 home games.
With the weather at 88 degrees at first pitch for Wednesday, don’t be surprised if the Astros opt to play the game under the roof.
Woodruff has pitched very well this season, but Verlander at home is one of those things that you just don’t bet against unless you have a darn good reason, such as the price being so poor that it’s not even worth it. Well, that’s not the case here. In fact, this is about as good a price as you’ll find for the Astros with Verlander on the hill.
It’s a testament to the respect shown to the Brewers and how strong a team they have, but the reality is that they’re only .500 away from home, while the Astros are 25-9 in southeastern Texas. I can’t ignore those numbers, and having Verlander on the hill only makes it easier to take Houston in this matchup. As good as Milwaukee is, I see the Astros taking this game.
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