There is one team with a playoff spot locked up and another fighting for a spot in this Labor Day series opener between the Houston Astros and the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite playing in different division—and different leagues—these two teams have plenty in common as they get set to face each other. After all, the Brewers’ organization is being headed by an Astros’ alum. Can David Stearns and the Brewers upset the Astros in this one?
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- Date and Time: Monday, September 2, 2019, 4:10 p.m. ET
- Location: Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- 2019 MLB Betting Odds at Betcris: (Check Back Later)
- Astros vs. Brewers 2019 MLB TV Coverage: ESPN
Monday would be Adrian Houser’s turn in the rotation for the Brewers though he is still a question mark after leaving his last start due to hip discomfort.
If Houser is available, he’ll bring a string of four straight games allowing just a single earned run to the table. The 26-year old right-hander started the MLB season in the bullpen but has pitched well since joining the rotation.
Overall, he’s 6-5 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.276 WHIP in 87 innings of work. His 4.18 FIP and solid strikeout totals paint a picture of a starter who has good stuff to support that ERA.
If Houser does get the start, he will look to give the team five solid innings before turning the ball to the pen, but even that may not be enough given his counterpart for the Astros.
While Milwaukee has a young gun in line for the start—health permitting—the Astros have one of their aces in Gerrit Cole.
Cole is only a couple years older the Houser but has a lot more experience. He’s also dominated this season. After a 15-5 season a year ago with a 2.88 ERA, he’s followed that up by going 15-5 with a 2.85 ERA so far this season.
In 27 starts this year, Cole has thrown 170.1 innings and has a league leading 252 strikeouts, giving him a 13.3 K:9 ratio.
The All-Star has a 0.957 WHIP and 6.15 K:BB ratio. His 2.92 FIP and 157 ERA+ paint a picture of a starter who has truly dominated the competition. To make things worse, Cole got off to a slow start in April. His numbers have been even better since May.
The right-hander is coming off a less-than-stellar performance against the Rays where he allowed four runs though he did strikeout 14 in 6.2 innings. Prior to that, however, he went seven shutout innings against the Tigers.
The four runs allowed last time out was the most he’s given up since June and he’s allowed two runs or fewer in 14 of his last 16 baseball games. Overall, the Astros are 20-7 when he takes the mound including 7-0 in his last seven.
Josh Hader remains one of the most difficult at bats in the game. He’s got a 16.4 K:9 ratio this year with 109 strikeouts in his 59.2 innings. He strikes out nearly two-thirds of those he faces. That’s crazy.
Despite that, he’s had some issues this MLB season with the home run. While batters struggled to make contact when they do, it can go a long way. He’s allowed 13 home runs this year and has a 2.87 ERA as a result. Still, he’s a good closer.
Leading to him, Alex Claudio and Junior Guerra are solid options. Drew Pomeranz has looked good in the pen, too, but the Astros have more shutdown relievers, even with Ryan Pressly on the IL.
Roberto Osuna isn’t as dominant as Hader, but he also has been better about the home run ball. He’s got less swing and miss, but still has a 3.02 ERA and 31 saves. Meanwhile, Will Harris and Hector Rondon remain excellent set up options.
Joe Smith has only thrown 16 innings but has allowed just three earned runs. On top of that Collin McHugh has been strong as a reliever since going back to the pen.
The Astros have been one of the best offenses all season, but they’ve really stood out in the second half where they’ve eclipsed the Yankees for best offense in baseball.
Houston has scored 289 runs since the break and have posted a .894 OPS thanks in part to a .366 team OBP. This team can hit for power, but more than that, they put up good at bats and make the opposition work in every at bat.
Even with Carlos Correa on the IL, the Astros are deep one through nine in the order. Aledmys Diaz is more than adequate at shortstop. He’s got a 109 OPS+. Around him, Alex Bregman leads the team in homers with 32 though there are six others with at last 19 bombs.
The Astros have six players on the active roster with an OPS+ of at least 134. Amongst the most prolific hitters is Yordan Alvarez who has made the Major Leagues look so easy since his promotion. He’s batting .329 with a .421 OBP and 1.120 OPS. In just 61 games, he has 21 home runs and 62 RBI.
In addition to Alvarez, George Springer has a .941 OPS. Amongst the .300 hitters on the roster are Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, and Michael Brantley. This team is stacked.
The Brewers aren’t nearly as deep. Christian Yelich stands out and may be the best player on the field for either team. He���s got a .330/.425/.673 slash line with 41 homers and 89 RBI, but he doesn’t have as much support as those for the Astros.
Mike Moustakas has had a nice season with 31 homers and Keston Hiura has been great since his promotion to the Majors. He hasn’t been quite as good offensively as Alvarez, but a 140 OPS+ and solid defense at second base make him a huge part of this team.
With the likes of Eric Thames, Yasmani Grandal, and Ryan Braun, there’s power on this team, but the average and OBP isn’t there like it is for Houston save for Yelich and Hiura.
At 40-games over-.500, the Astros are one of the big three favorites to win it all this season along with the Yankees and Dodgers.
Houston is rolling and while they’re nearly unbeatable at home, they hold their own on the road with a .537 winning percentage.
The Astros are 30-14 in the second half and going into Thursday had won six games in a row and nine of their last 10. Houston also has a +213 run differential.
On the other side of this matchup, the Brewers have a -39 run differential despite a 68-65 record. They’re in the playoff picture but have been little more than a .500 team all season. They’re 21-21 in the second half of the season and 6-9 in their last 15 games.
Even if Houser is healthy enough to go, he doesn’t match up well against Cole who is a Cy Young contender and All-Star.
While Houser has had a good season, look for him to allow a few runs and get the team into the sixth. That won’t be enough, particularly with the Astros having the seeming advantage in the bullpen and offensively.
Yelich and company should scratch across a couple runs but look for Cole to bounce back from his last start and limit the Brewers to a couple runs over six or more innings. From there, the Astros’ bullpen has the depth and talent to close the door.
Houston Astros vs. Milwaukee Brewers Pick: Look for the road team to come out on top in this one.
Houston Astros vs. Milwaukee Brewers Score Prediction: Astros 6, Brewers 3