MLB MLB Picks — 31 May 2013

Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Predictions and MLB Picks (Friday, May 31, 10:05 pm ET)

I don’t know when I will get used to this being a divisional contest, but it sure hasn’t happened yet. Houston just isn’t an American League team in my eyes. Given how bad they are, they are only barely a major league team in my eyes. They might be more comfortable most nights in Single-A.

This is the seventh game played between these new rivals. Houston played three games in Anaheim to close out the second week of the season, winning the first and dropping the next two. Houston played host in Early May, winning two before dropping the getaway game. This game now opens a four-game series. Houston comes from playing a split four-game series against the Rockies — two at home then two in Denver. The Angels are also off a split series, though the travel was hardly vigorous — they were at the Dodgers then at home.

Astros at Angels Betting Storylines

It took a very long time, but the Angels are finally playing like the team we thought they were. They have won nine of their last 11 and finally seem willing to play at something close to their potential. It would be far too easy to give them too much credit, though. While any win is a good win, they haven’t exactly beaten the elite of the league. They won two from the White Sox and Mariners, swept the Royals in four games, and most recently split four with the Dodgers, winning the two home games and losing the two on the road. That’s far from the hardest schedule a team could play. After these four against the Astros, they play two against the Cubs, so it won’t be until early June when they play three each against the Red Sox, Orioles and Yankees that we will really get a sense of whether this resurgence is for real or an illusion. Until then I refuse to get excited.

Friday marks the return to action for Los Angeles starter Tommy Hanson. He has had a very rough month. His younger step-brother died late in April. He took a bit of time off before returning for two starts. While his results weren’t bad, his head wasn’t in it, and he needed more time to deal with his personal issues. His last start was at home on May 4, so it has been a day short of four weeks since we have seen him. He’s been open about what he has been going through recently, and he says that he is dealing better. Needless to say, though, this unique situation has created some uncertainty.

The Astros have a more straight-forward pitching situation, but not a particularly inspiring one. Dallas Keuchel, a second-year pro, is making his 11th appearance and fifth start of the year. His numbers are pedestrian at best — a 5.09 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. Things aren’t quite as bad as they seem, though — at least potentially. Three of his four starts have come against the Rangers, Tigers, and A’s — three of the better offenses in the American League. He hasn’t played well, but it has been a trial by fire. Unfortunately, the Angels have some major bats and have found their stride recently as well, so things don’t get any easier for Keuchel here.

Though things are going better for the Angels lately, the biggest concern there is about them right now is the bullpen. They are in the bottom third of the American League in most stats and have really struggled with injuries. Closer Ryan Madson has been slow to recover from Tommy John surgery, and Ernesto Frieri has been lousy replacing him. Late innings are always an adventure for this team.

Astros at Angels MLB Odds and Betting Trends

5Dimes has the Angels very heavily favored at home at -238, with the Astros a hefty +228 underdog. The total sits at 8.5.

The Astros are just 22-68 in their last 90 road games and 39-101 in their last 140 overall. They just aren’t very good. The Angels have won seven of their last eight when they have been favorites.

Astros at Angels Predictions

This is a prime underdog play, and it has little to do with the Astros. Houston actually just took three of four against the Rockies, so they are playing reasonably well. They have won three of six against the Angels this year, too. What matters here, though, is Tommy Hanson. He’s going to be rusty after a month off, and I just don’t trust his mental toughness right now given what he has been through. I also don’t trust the bullpen to bail him out if they are called on for a lot of action. The Angels are clearly the better team right now, but this price is far too high, and there is good value in the Astros.

Note: Doc’s Sports has been recognized as one of the leaders and most trusted names in sports handicapping since 1971.  Their 42 year reputation for excellent service is unmatched.  You can get $60 worth of their member picks for FREE – with no obligation  – click here

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Kevin heads the MLB news section of MLBSoup.com. You can find more of his work over at NFLSoup.com and NBASoup.com.

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