The Oakland Athletics are on fire of late and will seek to extend their six-game winning streak on Friday when they host the Houston Astros.
After a sluggish start to the 2020 campaign, it looked like Oakland would fall short of expectations. Instead, the A's are now 2.5 games in front of Houston in the AL West, with a chance to create further separation in this upcoming three-game series at home.
In this betting preview from abe Insights, you'll find analysis on how wagers for Astros-Athletics should trend, the best odds available across all major sportsbooks, advanced stats and other elements to consider before you bet.
Date: Friday, August 7
Time: 9:10 p.m. ET
TV: AT&T SportsNet Southwest; NBC Sports California
Implied Probabilities: Astros 47%; Athletics 55%
Spread: HOU +1.5 (-180); OAK -1.5 (+165)
Moneyline: HOU +114; OAK -120
One vital component working in the 'Stros' favor is the presence of Zack Greinke on the mound. The six-time All-Star has given up five runs in nine innings this season, but that probably means Greinke is due to show his best stuff on Friday.
Opposite Houston's ace is Chris Bassitt, whose role has steadily increased since his 2018 return from Tommy John surgery. In two 2020 starts, Bassitt has been excellent, with a 1-0 record, 0.93 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 9.2 innings of work.
4.12 vs. 2.07: This first stat shows Oakland's advantage in the bullpen, as the A's relievers have the second-lowest Fielding Independent Pitching, while the Astros rank a mediocre 15th in MLB in the category.
.339 vs. .300: Houston does have an edge in weighted on-base average, a metric that really aims to isolate how valuable each player's at bat is. The 'Stros have tons of batting talent in spite of any sign-stealing, and rank third to Oakland's 19th in this area.
26.9 vs. 20.4: Here's another stat the A's lead in — although it's not a good one. They have the fourth-highest strikeout percentage in baseball, whereas Houston has the fourth-lowest rate.
Perhaps this was intentional, perhaps it wasn't, but A's pitcher Mike Fiers won't pitch in this series after getting the win against Texas on Thursday. Fiers, an ex-Astro, was the one who blew the whistle on Houston's sign-stealing scandal.
"I think we all applaud him for standing up for what is right. He’s a great teammate, we love him here and we're very grateful for what he did," said Oakland outfielder Stephen Piscotty of Fiers, per The New York Times' Joe Drape.
This only adds fuel to the divisional rivalry — not to mention the fact that the A's have had to finish second to the Astros in the AL West the past two years. Friday is the first time Oakland and Houston meet since Fiers called his former team out. Don't be surprised if there's some bad blood on both sides, and potentially, some benches-clearing conflict.
Whether it's dealing with the aftermath of the cheating controversy, regression due to not having that unfair advantage, or simply a lack of cohesion, the Astros aren't the same dominant team as in previous years. There has to be a certain pressure in the clubhouse to live up to their reputation as an elite club without stealing signals from opponents.
Since the starting pitcher duel is a big storyline, let's close this preview with another personnel issue that could loom large: Houston closer Roberto Osuna went on the IL on Sunday and could miss the rest of the year, so if the A's trail late, a rally could well be in store.
Any divisional clash has a certain atmosphere of animosity about it. Friday's particular meeting should be especially charged in that regard, so if you must bet on a run line, the Athletics' +1.5 spread is a better value than you'd expect considering how tight the moneylines are.
Oakland is simply playing better baseball at the moment, so given a choice between outright winners, bettors are likely to go in the direction of the A's moneyline. Negative public sentiment for the Astros probably won't help their case to take action, either.
As for the run total, the pitchers are so good, which should cause wagers to trend in the Under direction.
Note: Odds current as of 12:45 p.m. ET on Friday, August 7.
Back to top