Houston at Tampa Bay Pro Baseball Betting Pick & Preview

Posted by Michael Hunt on Friday,April 21, 2017 10:12, EST in

The Houston Astros haven’t had much success in St. Petersburg, Fla., in recent years but Houston is playing well this year and has good chance to take this weekend’s series. However, the Astros could be MLB betting underdogs in Saturday’s Game 2 against Tampa Bay.

Houston at Tampa Bay Pro Baseball Betting Pick & Preview

When: Saturday, April 22, 6:10 PM ET
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg
Probable pitchers (away/home): Charlie Morton/Blake Snell
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Stream: MLB.tv
RadioHouston / Tampa Bay
Opening MLB Lines: TBA

Why Bet On Houston?

The Astros have placed right-hander Jandel Gustave on the 10-day disabled list with right forearm tightness. There is no timetable for his return. Gustave had allowed four runs — three earned — on seven walks and five hits over five innings this season out of the Astros’ bullpen. The team recalled RHP James Hoyt from Triple-A Fresno. Hoyt posted a 4.50 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 28/9 K/BB ratio over his first 22 major league innings last season.

Houston welcomed back star shortstop Carlos Correa to the lineup Thursday. Correa took a pitch off his right hand Saturday, but X-ray and MRI results all turned up negative and he’s mostly over the swelling.

The Astros have already posted more wins this month than they did in April 2016 (7-17). Through 15 games last season, Houston was 5-10, whereas in 2015, the Astros last playoff season, Houston started 8-7 through 15 contests. OF George Springer, who ranks tied for first in the Majors in home runs, is the third player in Astros history to total seven home runs in the club’s first 15 games of a season. He joins Lance Berkman (eight in 2002) and Morgan Ensberg (seven in 2006).

It’s Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.81) on the mound. Morton) allowed five hits while walking two and striking out three over five scoreless innings in Monday’s 3-0 win over the Angels.

“He didn’t have it, but somehow found a way to put up zeros,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. Morton has held the opposition to three or fewer runs in all three of his starts, leading to a 2.81 ERA and 7.3 K/9 in 16 innings. An increase in velocity following a serious hamstring injury last year has helped his strikeout numbers. He worked six innings in his first start, but has lasted only five innings in his last two. Morton made four starts last year before injury.

Why Bet On Tampa Bay?

The Rays are without two projected starting outfielders. Colby Rasmus (hip) is scheduled to resume his minor-league rehab assignment Saturday with Double-A Montgomery. Rasmus aggravated his surgically-repaired hip two weeks ago in a rehab game with High-A Charlotte, but he’s beginning to feel much better. There’s some thought that he could be ready to join the Rays next weekend in Toronto. Tampa Bay signed Rasmus to a one-year, $5 million free agent contract in late January.

Mallex Smith (hamstring) took part in batting practice on Wednesday. Smith started running on Monday. He is in recovery mode from a strained right hamstring suffered this past Thursday. Smith managed one extra-base hit in 25 plate appearances prior to going down injured.

It’s lefty Blake Snell (0-2, 2.76) for Tampa, and he’s not getting much run support. Snell allowed four runs — just one earned — on seven hits and two walks while striking out five batters during Monday’s loss to the Red Sox. Some poor luck spoiled Snell’s outing Monday. Brad Miller botched what should have been the third out of the second inning, and then the Red Sox tacked on three runs before Snell struck out Xander Bogaerts to end the frame. The two walks Snell allowed Monday gave him 10 for the season in 161/3 innings, but he said overall he is pleased with his progress.

“Still some good, still some not so good,” manager Kevin Cash said. “The pitch count is the thing. He’s got to get the ball over the plate. We talk about it all the time. Like the fact he was able to make an adjustment and went to his off-speed pitches, and I think that allowed him to get to where he got in the game.”

Since Snell was called up for good last June, teams have scored 15 unearned runs when he’s on the mound, most in the AL. Overall, that’s 27 percent of the 55 runs he has allowed.

Houston at Tampa Bay Pro Baseball Betting Pick: Tampa Bay Rays

Houston’s lineup is better, but Snell is pitching well enough to be unbeaten and will get his first win here.