Cincinnati is officially the best team in the National League as their 56 wins cement their position at the top of the leaderboard. A three games series against the worst team in the conference should boost their chances of winning the division and the Reds took advantage of the opening game. Houston might be a pushover in most of the games, but tonight the Astros have a good chance of causing a major upset.
Bet: Houston Astros
Odds: bwin 2.30
Many expect the series to go in a single direction, as the leading Reds meet the team with the fewest wins in MLB, but at Minute Maid Park, the Astros are a force to be reckoned with. Compared to their dismal record away from home, they perform much better in front of their fans and starting pitcher Lucas Harrell is a living example. He allowed no more than one run in four of his last games and he conceded less than two runs per game in all his matches played at Minute Maid Park.
The fact that he lost 7 decisions out of 14, despite of an ERA of just 4.24 says a great deal about how supportive the offensive was when Lucas was sent to the mound. For the time being Harrell can do nothing more than play his best game and hope that his teammates will rise to the occasion. His opponent will be Mike Leake who has an identical earned runs average but lost 6 out of 9 decisions, and is by no means the better pitcher tonight.
Watch out for the bullpen
Houston have lost the opening match of the series and it isn’t the starting pitcher to blame, but the bullpen. The relievers conceded 5 runs over 2 innings and again it is going to be the game’s final to keep Astros fans at the edge of their chairs. Lucas Harrell will probably be kept on the mount for as long as possible and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pitch well into the eight inning.
I’m confident in his ability and so is manager Brad Mills who praised Lucas after his last outing, and he will probably give him the chance to go for a full game. On the bright side, Cincinnati is still without their star slugger as Joey Votto has to shake off a knee injury before returning to the rotation. Without him, the Reds are still a formidable team but one less dangerous in the offense.
It is not often that punters get the chance of backing a home team at such high odds, especially when they have a great starting pitcher. Bwin offers 2.30 for those willing to back the Astros, despite the seven game losing streak and this is simply an offer too good to turn down.