TOM STRYKER’S FREE BASEBALL SELECTION MONDAY, MAY 23rd
#928 HOUSTON RUN-LINE with Verlander (-1′ +100) over Seattle with Gilbert at 3:37 PM EST
Well rested and off a pair of home wins over the Phillies to close the regular season, the Astros will get out of the gate in the postseason with a solid victory in game one of the American League Division Series. The M’s check into this contest off a pair of huge upset road wins over the Blue Jays and manager Scott Servais and his boys will struggle in this spot.
Hitting the hill for the home team will be ace right-hander Justin Verlander. With 28 starts in the books this season, No. 35 has been at his best allowing only 34 earned runs and 116 hits in 175.0 innings of work. Verlander struck out 185 and walked 29 on his way to a solid 18-4 mark with an elite 1.75 ERA. Justin’s efforts inside Minute Maid Park were outstanding. In his own backyard, Verlander was nicked for just 16 earned runs and 65 hits in 88.0 frames. That’s good enough for a 10-1 record with a powerful 1.64 ERA.
Young righty Logan Gilbert will counter for the visitors. So far this year, No. 36 had his number called 32 times in a starting role and was tapped for 66 earned runs and 170 hits in 185.2 innings. Gilbert whiffed 174 and walked 49 on his way to a 13-6 tally with a 3.20 ERA. Logan’s last two starts against the ‘Stros were average at best. With 12.0 frames completed, Gilbert was gashed for four earned runs and 10 hits. That shakes down to an 0-1 tally with a 3.00 ERA.
Several quality team trends support this Best Bet. Houston has won 14 of its last 17 as a host in the Divisional Playoffs, 74 of its last 102 when rested, 46 of its last 65 versus teams from the AL West, and 62 of its last 90 in the first game of a series. On the other side of field, Seattle has slipped in four of its last five following an off day and eight of its last 10 in the first game of a series.
The Astros are playoff-tested, and they’ll be sure to give the Mariners the respect they deserve especially after watching the M’s storm back to defeat the Blue Jays the way they did. Take Houston on the run-line with Verlander. Thanks and best of luck, Tom.
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