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September 15, 2015 (Posted at 2:00 PM ET)

There are two MLB picks tonight.

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1) Take Texas Rangers on the Money Line (-116) against Houston Astros risking 3.48% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Holland and McHugh must start for wager to have action)

The Texas Rangers have battled all season long and they are finally almost at their pinnacle as they have pulled just a half game back of the Houston Astros who have led the division nearly all season long. The Rangers last topped the division all the way back on April 11th while the Astros have held the top spot since July 28th. With 3 more meetings this week and six more in the next 13 days this is likely a series that could come down to the final few meetings to determine who takes the top spot in the division so each and every win is important from here on out.

The Rangers should certainly come into this game full of confidence after last night’s win and knowing that they have had their way with the Astros this season as they have now won 9 of 13 meetings this season including the last 4 straight. The Astros have been slumping recently as they are just 2-5 on their current road trip. They have one of the more impressive home records this season but they have been absolutely dreadful on the highway, going just 29-43 away from home this season. Part of their struggles is the fact that they are not a very good hitting team, at least when they need timely hits. They managed to leave18 men on base last night and they average just 8 hits per game which ranks 29th in the league. A big reason for their success this season has been because of their ability long ball, but they tend to rely too much on that aspect and not on picking up the key hits when needed.

Colin McHugh, while he has been on an impressive run recently has been hit by this Rangers team extremely hard. Active Texas batters who will feature tonight have hit McHugh extremely hard. As a team they have battered a combined .393 lifetime against him and could be in for a big night tonight. McHugh has pitched a total of 178 innings this year, which is the most ever in his career. He was hit hard last week in Oakland which could be a sure sign that his arm is becoming fatigued late in the season. Against a potent Rangers lineup, a strong showing against McHugh tonight is their best chance to pick up the win and once again claim the top of the division especially with the Astros Ace, Dallas Keuchel taking the mound tomorrow.. While it's unknown whether the Rangers will remain at the top for the remainder of the season, we don’t believe this is the ideal opportunity for them to at least take sole position of 1st place in the division.

Martin Perez was scratched from this contest and will start tomorrow. We're getting a better pitcher in this matchup with Derek Holland now taking the mound. Holland has been solid since returning off the disabled list with a 3-1 mark in five starts with a 2.97 ERA. He was hit hard in Seattle last week, but was nearly perfect in his two previous outings allowing only 1 run in 17 innings. The Rangers have seemingly owned the Astros this season and with this being arguably their most important games of the season; there is good value backing them since they are the club with several advantages in this contest.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Astros are just 15-36 in their last 51 road games.
  • Rangers are 18-5 in their last 23 home games!
  • Astros are 9-16 on the road with a money line of -100 to -125 this season.
     

2) Take San Francisco Giants on the Money Line (-152) against Cincinnati Reds risking 4.56% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Heston and Lamb must start for wager to have action)

The Giants still have an outside chance of making the post-season but need to continue piling up the wins. They've won 4 in a row entering this contest and now top the national league in batting average! The offense has come to life despite the absence of Hunter Pence and Joe Panik as Buster Posey and company give one last push in hopes that either the Cubs or the Dodgers slip up in the stretch run. The Reds on the other hand have long been eliminated and sit at the very bottom of the NL Central division! Some of the players have already thrown in the towel and speedy Billy Hamilton who leads the Majors in stolen bases was taken out of the game due to a shoulder injury yesterday. It remains to be seen if he'll play tonight or not but even if he does, he's not at 100% and that makes their defense and offense a bit weaker.

Bruce Bochy's squad has its own injuries woes but is used to winning games at AT&T Park and knows it can't let up now. There are no games to waste anymore and they simply can't afford to fall further behind. Having said that, the fact that they do still possess a slim chance of making the playoffs means the defending champions are a lot more motivated for battles like this than their Cincy counterparts. Bochy is arguably the smartest manager in baseball and gets the very best out of his bullpen! After surviving a late 9th inning scare in the series opener against these same Reds last night, we believe closer Santiago Casilla and the rest of the gang will have an easier time tonight.

Chris Heston will take the mound for San Fran and is likely to perform a lot better than in his last outing which was a short one against Arizona. That was his first start in quite awhile after dealing with injuries and it was understandable that he lasted only 4 innings and didn't have his sharpest apperance. The rookie is a talented hurler nonetheless and even threw a no-hitter earlier in the season! He's fared very well at AT&T Park this season where his ERA is just 2.93 in 14 starts! He's had a lot of quality performances and it has been on the road where his poorer outings have come.

He'll be opposed by Cincinnati rookie John Lamb who was very fortunate to record his first W in the Majors last time out despite walking 6 batters in just 5 innings! The southpaw has been a feast or famine type pitcher either striking out hitters or letting them get on base through free passes and hits. He's 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA and is still learning his trade in the big leagues. He's got a lot to improve on and we expect the offensively capable Giants to take advantage of his miscues. Bryan Price's club has struggled on the road all season long (26-43) record and has a lot less to gain from this matchup. We expect the home side to have the type of desire and urgency that should help them clinch this game.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Giants are 42-27 at home this season.
  • Giants ranke #1 in NL with a .269 batting average!
  • Reds are just 14-37 as a road underdog of +125 to +150 over the last 3 seasons!



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