TOM STRYKER’S FREE BASEBALL SELECTION THURSDAY, AUGUST 6TH
#919 HOUSTON with Bielak (-110) over Arizona with Gallen at 7:07 PM EST
After getting hammered by the Diamondbacks last night in the desert, the Astros will bounce back with a solid effort on Thursday. Houston is 1.5-games behind Oakland in the AL West standings and the ‘Stros need this victory in order to keep pace with the A’s.
Taking the mound for the Astros will be rookie right-hander (from Notre Dame) Brandon Bielak. So far this year, No. 64 has appeared in two game against the Angels and Mariners (both in relief) and was touched for one earned run and four hits in 5.1 innings of work. Bielak fanned six and walked three en route to a 2-0 record and a powerful 1.69 ERA. Zack Greinke was scheduled to get the nod. But, manager Dusty Baker rewarded Bielak with the start based on his two solid outings in relief.
Countering for the Diamondbacks will be righty Zac Gallen. So far this season, No. 23 has made two starts for ‘Zona against San Diego and the LA Dodgers and was popped for three earned runs and seven hits in 10.0 frames. Gallen whiffed 15 and walked six but failed to earn a decision in either game on his way to a 2.70 ERA. This will be Zac’s first career start against the ‘Stros and he will have his hands full with a high-octane Houston offense that is ranked first in Major League Baseball averaging 6.09 runs per game.
There are a number of solid angles that support this Best Bet. Houston has tasted victory in 43 of its last 60 when battling a foe that owns a team won/loss percentage less than .400, 15 of its last 21 coming off a loss, 48 of its last 69 against NL West foes and 160 of its last 236 when priced as road chalk. On the other side of the chalk, Arizona has slipped in 16 of its last 21 as an underdog and five of its last seven was fighting an opponent that owns a team won/loss percentage greater than .500.
With a massive AL West battle on the road against the Athletics on deck, the Astros understand the importance of this victory. Take Houston with Bielak. Thanks and best of luck, Tom.
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