TOM STRYKER’S FREE BASKETBALL SELECTION FRIDAY, JUNE 16TH
#974 HOUSTON RUN-LINE with France (-1′ +105) over Cincinnati with Abbott at 8:10 PM EST
Off yesterday’s surprising 4-1 home loss to the Nationals, the Astros will have no trouble extending the margin in this interleague matchup. Houston’s deficit in the AL West rests at 3.5-games behind Texas and manager Dusty Baker’s crew needs to pick up the pace at home (20-15 in their last 35 games).
Rookie right-hander J.P. France will toe the rubber for the ‘Stros. In his last three starts versus the Guardians, Angels, and Twins, No. 68 was tapped for eight earned runs and 17 hits in 19.2 innings. J.P. struck out 17 and walked 10 on his way to a 1-0 record and a reliable 3.66 ERA. Overall, with seven starts in the books, France has surrendered just 16 earned runs and 37 hits in 40.2 frames. That shakes down to a 2-1 mark with a solid 3.54 ERA.
Greenhorn southpaw Andrew Abbott will hit the hump and make his third career start for the Big Red Machine. Matched up against the Cardinals and Brewers in his first two outings, No. 41 allowed no earned runs and six hits in 11.2 innings of work. Andrew fanned 10 and issued seven free passes on his way to a 2-0 tally with an elite 0.00 ERA. With 10 minor league outings in the bank this year (seven at AAA Louisville and three at AA Chattanooga), Abbott was tapped for 15 earned runs and 33 hits in 54.0 frames. That shakes down to a 4-1 record with a 2.50 ERA.
With both young arms capable, a number of solid team trends will be the difference in this contest. Houston has won 41 of its last 53 when facing a left-handed starter, 54 of its last 77 when coming off a loss, and 46 of its last 66 when facing a foe that scored five runs or more last. On the other side of the field, Cincinnati has dropped 66 of its last 98 on the road facing an American League opponent that holds a team won/loss percentage greater than .500 and 11 of its last 16 coming off a day of rest.
The Astros next six games are inside the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park, and they need to make them count. Take Houston on the run-line with France. Thanks and best of luck, Tom.
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