After passing the Houston Astros (77-69) in the American League West, the Texas Rangers (78-67) padded their lead with a crushing 14-3 victory in Game 3 of this four-game set. With Colby Lewis on the mound for the Rangers later tonight, will Texas push the Astros further behind? Or will Houston stop the Rangers from doing any more damage?
Read on for our preview of this big AL West showdown. And over in the NFL, check out our preview of the big AFC West showdown this Thursday night between the Chiefs and Broncos here.[sc:MLBArticles ]
Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers Preview
Where: Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington
When: Thursday, September 17, 2015, 8:05 PM ET
Line: Houston Astros (-108) at Texas Rangers (-102); total: 9.0 – view all MLB lines
Betting on the Houston Astros
[sc:MLB240banner ]Lance McCullers (5-5, 3.10 ERA) is still searching for his first win since late July. He’ll give it a go again later tonight when the Astros give him the ball for the closing act of this four-game series against Texas.
McCullers, however, has pitched better than what his 0-2 record and a 4.97 ERA over his last five starts suggest. His ERA during that stretch in particular is largely skewed by a bad outing against Texas (a 12-9 loss) on August 3, when the Rangers crushed him for six earned runs on seven hits in just under an inning of work.
Following that loss, McCullers allowed just two runs or less in three of four starts, including in Houston’s 3-2 loss to the Angels on September 12. Against the Halos, McCullers also didn’t have a fine performance, as he yielded two runs on seven hits, while striking out just one batter and walking two. Nevertheless McCullers’ FIP (2.96) is lower than his season ERA, pointing to a pitcher that can cripple any given offense on any given night. McCullers, however, needs Houston’s offense to back him up, too.
Jose Altuve is 7-for-24 (.292) with a double in his career against Texas starter, Colby Lewis. Colby Rasmus, meanwhile, is 5-for-18 (.278) with a triple and a homer in the same matchup.
The under is 3-1 in McCullers’ last four starts.
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Betting on the Texas Rangers
The Rangers offense has often had Colby Lewis’ back this season. In fact, Lewis is among the “luckiest” pitchers in the majors, as he’s been getting an average of 6.31 of run support per nine innings pitched—fifth most among qualified starters in MLB—thus largely explaining why he has a 15-8 record despite a 4.45 ERA.
That wasn’t the case for Lewis’ last five starts, though, as the Rangers averaged just 2.0 runs during that stretch. That includes Texas’ zero-run outputs in Lewis’ back-to-back starts against the Padres (August 31) and Angels (September 6) with the Rangers losing 7-0 in both games. Lewis, however, was sterling in his most recent outing, shutting down Oakland in a complete-game two-hitter 4-0 win on September 11.
Those kind of performances for Lewis are few and far in between, meaning he has a long way to go before the Rangers get less reliant on their offense whenever the right-hander in on the mound. With that said, the Rangers will look to replicate the punishment they administered to McCullers the last time they faced him.
Overall, the current Rangers lineup is 9-for-10 with two homers and seven RBIs against McCullers.
The Rangers are 4-1 in the last five home starts of Lewis, who is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA across 14 starts in Arlington.
Houston (-108) wins, 7-4.[sc:MLB490banner ]
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