TOM STRYKER’S FREE BASKETBALL SELECTION THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH
#920 HOUSTON with McCullers (-145) over Tampa Bay with McHugh at 7:10 PM EST
In a bad mood off last night’s 7-0 shutout home loss to the Rays and with blemishes in five of their last six overall, the Astros will dig deep and grab this important victory. Thanks to last night’s dub, Tampa Bay owns the best record in the American League, and they now know the road to the World Series must go through Tropicana Field. After accomplishing that goal, the Devil Rays will take a breather here.
Hitting the hill for the home team will be right-hander Lance McCullers. Since August 31st, No. 43 has made five starts and been nicked for only eight earned runs and 20 hits in 29.0 innings of work. McCullers whiffed 30 and walked 15 on his way to a 2-1 tally and a strong 2.48 ERA. Lance has been at his best under the lights too. At night, McCullers has surrendered only 31 earned runs and 66 hits in 92.1 frames. That’s good enough for a 9-2 mark with an elite 3.02 ERA.
Veteran righty Collin McHugh will counter for the Rays in this bullpen game. So far this season, No. 31 has appeared in 35 games (six starts) and been slapped for only 11 earned runs and 47 hits in 62.0 innings. McHugh has struck out 73 and walked 12 on his way to a 6-1 tally with a powerful 1.60 ERA. After McHugh, southpaw Ryan Yarbrough will take the pearl. In four September performances against the Marlins, Tigers, Blue Jays and Red Sox, No. 48 was spanked for 18 earned runs and 25 hits in 16.1 frames. That’s bad enough for a 1-2 record with a lofty 9.92 ERA. The ‘Stros struggling offense will certainly plate a few runs against Ryan.
There are a few trends that support this Best Bet too. Houston has won four of its last five in the third game of a series, 142 of its last 208 when priced as a home favorite, and 137 of its last 204 in their own backyard fighting a right-handed starter. On the other side of Minute Maid Park, Tampa Bay has slipped in nine of its last 12 as a guest in this series.
The ‘Stros still have a magic number of one in order to clinch the AL West. With a quality arm on the bump, manager Dusty Baker’s boys will finally get to pop the champagne corks. Take Houston with McCullers. Thanks and best of luck, Tom.
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