The Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers wouldn't be considered historically low-scoring clubs with strong pitching, yet that's been the story thus far in 2020 ahead of Sunday's showdown in the Lone Star State.
These teams have split the first two games to begin the shortened MLB season, scoring a combined six runs. While the vast majority across the sport are facing division rivals right now, this Rockies-Rangers interleague matchup creates an added level of intrigue.
Read on for abe Insights' betting preview, which features a breakdown of where the majority of action on wagers is bound to go, along with the best odds available and advanced statistics that could well decide who takes this series.
Date: Sunday, July 26
Time: 2:35 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Implied Probabilities: Rockies 42%; Rangers 58%
Spread: COL +1.5 (-145); TEX -1.5 (+135)
Moneyline: COL +138; TEX -140
In light of the Rangers' pitching woes of years past, their fanbase and clubhouse must be jazzed with the 2020 rotation. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is on the bump Sunday for his Texas debut, although he is coming off an injury-riddled final year in Cleveland.
Underwhelming pitching is as much a function of Colorado's high altitude as anything else, and can quickly deflate any thrower's confidence. Just ask Rockies southpaw Kyle Freeland, who'll try to pick up the pieces after collapsing in 2019.
.319 vs. 313: To further illustrate how sluggish Colorado and Texas starters have been on the mound of late, these figures are opponents' batting average on balls in play from last season. That put the Rangers second-worst in the big leagues, with the Rockies yielding the fifth-highest average.
131 vs. 71: A simple but potentially significant statistic is the comparison between stolen bases from a year ago. Texas led everyone in base-swiping, while Colorado placed 14th in the category.
70.4 vs. 66.0: In terms of plate discipline, the Rockies' batters across the board know how to pick their spots better. During the 2019 campaign, they were sixth in percentage of swings on pitches in the strike zone; the Rangers were 29th out of 30 teams.
Based on the given numbers, expect the Rangers to enact small-ball tactics and be as aggressive as they can be on the base paths. The hosts do need to enact some discretion, however, since runs have been at such a premium in this series.
Colorado's tremendous triumvirate of Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon have combined for only two hits and zero RBI through two games. It wouldn't be a surprise to see those studs break out of a collective funk and put Kluber to the test the first couple times through the order.
It's probably a good thing for Freeland that this contest is away from Coors Field. He finished last year with a 3-11 record, including a mind-numbing 9.25 home ERA. In any event, he's a shell of the 17-game winner he was from 2018.
The good news for the troubled lefty is there's not a ton to love about Texas' batting order. Second baseman Danny Santana is the only power threat who hits with stellar average (.283/.324/.534 slash line in 2019).
If the Rangers can't offer more run support to their much-improved pitching staff, they won't be able to challenge Houston or stay relevant in a competitive AL West division.
Road warriors the Rockies are not, if the previous year is any indication. Per TeamRankings.com, they posted a 21-46 mark as away underdogs. Despite Colorado's undeniable top-heavy hitting talent, it begs the question: how much does the team benefit from home cooking?
The Rangers are coming off a season where they had the seventh-best mark as home favorites. So despite lots of analysis to the contrary, bettors are likely to skew action toward Texas' -140 moneyline.
For those who like the explosiveness of the Rockies lineup against Kluber — who's something of an unknown commodity at the moment with a 5.80 ERA in his last seven starts — it may be wise to hedge with Colorado's +1.5 spread, and wagers should favor that side of the run line; the -145 odds are a solid bargain.
Regarding the run total, bets are bound to lean toward the Over 8.5. Taking into account Freeland's tenuous status, the two prior duels being so low-scoring and the potential awakening of Story, Arenado and Blackmon, it all makes sense for the score to go higher Sunday.
Note: Odds current as of 11:20 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 26.
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