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Daily Sports Picks for Monday, July 31: Astros Host Tampa Bay

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Keep reading to see Oskeim’s Daily Sports Picks for Monday, July 31.


Houston takes the field with a potent lineup that is averaging 5.9 runs per game this season (.350 OBP; .836 OPS), including 5.8 runs per game versus right-handed starters (.834 OPS) and 5.7 runs per game at night (.836 OPS).  The Astros’ potent lineup will be challenged by Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb, who has produced eight quality starts over his past nine outings.

Over that span (64.3 IP), Cobb has posted a 5-1 record with a 2.24 ERA.  The 29-year-old also owns a 1.99 ERA and 0.83 WHIP over his last three starts.  However, Cobb’s underlying peripherals suggest that he’s not pitching quite as well as his surface numbers indicate.  For example, his 2.70 ERA in 36.2 July innings is undermined by a 4.76 FIP and a 4.14 xFIP.

Cobb’s surface statistics this month have been skewed by an unsustainable .164 BABIP and a lucky 83.3% strand rate.  The right-hander’s strikeout numbers have declined (4.91 K/9 in July), while his hard contact rate has spiked to 37.5% in the second-half.  Cobb also owns a 4.18 ERA, 4.32 FIP and a 4.76 xFIP away from home this season (compared to a 2.59 ERA and a 4.10 FIP at home).

That significant home/road split makes Cobb a dangerous proposition in Minute Maid Park tonight.  Houston flame thrower Charlie Morton is consistently hitting a career-high 98.4 mph on his sinker and owns an 18.8% whiff rate on his devastating curveball.  Opposing batters have just a .410 OPS against Morton’s curve this season, and he’s backed by baseball’s best offense.

Morton boasts a 3.69 ERA at home and a 3.28 ERA in July, together with 11.57 K/9 and 2.89 BB/9 rates in the second half.  The 33-year-old has done an excellent job in suppressing hard contact (17.5% Hard% in July) and continues to keep the ball on the ground (51.1% GB% in second half).  Morton’s impeccable control – has only issued 8 walks in his last four starts – will force Tampa Bay’s scuffling lineup to put the ball in play.

Tampa Bay is averaging just 4.4 runs per game on the road (.310 OBP) and 3.6 runs over its last seven games (.296 OBP).  I’m also hesitant to back a Tampa Bay bullpen that owns a 4.31 ERA in 2017, including a 4.39 ERA on the road and a 4.19 ERA at night.

From a technical standpoint, Houston is a profitable 53-22 versus right-handed starters (8-2 L/10 at home), 20-9 versus American League East foes, 37-17 following a loss and 4-1 in game 1 of a series.  The Astros are also 7-3 in Morton’s last ten starts, including 4-1 in Morton’s last five starts during game 1 of a series.  In contrast, Tampa Bay is 0-4 in its last four clashes with American League opponents, 1-6 in its last seven against right-handed starters and 3-8 in its last 11 games overall.

Finally, Houston applies to a contrarian 30-12 system of mine.  Takes Houston as one of my Daily Sports Picks for Monday, July 31.

Daily Sports Picks for Monday:

  • Houston Astros (-151) over Tampa Bay Rays
  • Seattle Mariners (+113) over Texas Rangers
  • Miami Marlins (+121) over Washington Nationals

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