Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
The Houston Astros open up their first season in the American League with their division rival the Texas Rangers on Sunday. The Rangers are -147 favorites over the Astros with an over/under run lines set at 8.5.
We all know what has been going on with Houston the past several years and it hasn’t been positive. Of course, that was in the National League so will the move to the AL improve things for the Astros? My guess is no because this game is all about hitting and pitching and the Astros haven’t been getting enough of either for quite awhile and that doesn’t appear to have changed. A new manager in Bo Porter and some youth might infuse some good things but the numbers from 2012 say a lot: 55 wins, last or next to last in most offensive categories and a pitching staff that needs run support but didn’t get it. Carlos Pena comes over from Tampa Bay and brings 19 homers with him and Justin Maxwell hit 18 bombs in 2012, while Jose Altuve hit .290 with 33 stolen bases so the cupboard not bare but it’s not fully stocked either. Right hander Bud Norris gets the opening day starting assignment and is looking to rebound from an injury plagued year in which his ERA ballooned from 3.77 in 2011 to 4.65.
Texas has more than a few things to prove after a September meltdown cost them the American League West before a loss in the Wild Card game ended their season. The Rangers dropped seven of nine including three in a row to Oakland to not only squander a 5 1/2 game lead they held on September 6th but to lose the division and be labeled as ‘chokers’ by some. Things might be even more trying for Texas with Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli plying their wares elsewhere. The team tried to soften the blow of theses losses with the acquisitions of AJ Pierzynski and Lance Berkman but replacing a talent like Hamilton is simply not going to happen that easily. The Rangers still will have a veteran laden, dangerous lineup but ultimately their fate could be decided by a rotation that was not consistent nor very deep with Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison needing huge seasons. Harrison gets the opening day nod after an 18 win campaign and 3.29 ERA got him a 5 year contract extension.
Even though Texas lost some talent that quite honestly can’t be replaced, they are not a pushover and Houston has a long way to go. If Norris is at the top of his game, the Astros have a shot but Harrison should keep the Houston lineup in check. I’m leanining Rangers.
Texas Rangers -147 Houston Astros