The Astros dropped the opening game of their series in Miami on Monday, but can the Marlins hold down a loaded lineup on back-to-back days? Johnny Cueto will get the honors for Miami, while Cristian Javier is set to start for the Astros. Houston is a slight road favorite at -130 on the moneyline.
Let’s make predictions for Tuesday’s matchup and break down why the Astros are unlikely to drop this series so quickly.
Astros vs. Marlins Prediction
The Marlins’ offense has come to life with the arrivals of Josh Bell and Jake Burger, but this is still a Miami team that thrives on its pitching. They may not have the pitching advantage on Tuesday. On one hand, Cueto has done a nice job of limiting hits since returning from the IL.
On the other hand, a low opponents’ BABIP is a sign some of that is due to luck, and his numbers haven’t been spectacular even with so few hits allowed. An Astros lineup that has Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker red hot plus Yordan Alvarez rounding back into form appears poised to pounce and bring Cueto back to reality.
Cristian Javier’s home run issues are a concern as well, but he hasn’t allowed more than four hits in a start over his last five outings. That’s a sign of progress, even if he’s not missing bats like he did last season.
The Astros haven’t lost back-to-back games since July 26 and 27. It’s simply not easy to beat a Houston team that has been in postseason races like this one and has its lineup as close to full health as it’s been all year. It would be surprising if Houston’s offense didn’t break out at least a little bit on Tuesday, and that should be enough for a win in this game.
Astros vs. Marlins Prediction: Astros Moneyline (-130)
Astros vs. Marlins Odds
The Astros enter as slight road favorites at -130 on the moneyline. The over/under is 8.5 runs.
The Marlins have started to regain their momentum, but the Astros have been playing some of their best baseball and have two scorching hot hitters in Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker. With the pitching matchup favoring Houston, it’s almost a surprise the line doesn’t tilt more toward Dusty Baker’s squad.
Astros vs. Marlins Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Astros vs. Marlins.
Jose Altuve vs. Johnny Cueto
Kyle Tucker has earned his way into the mix to be an MVP finalist behind Shohei Ohtani, but the hottest hitter on this Astros team right now is Jose Altuve.
The former MVP missed about half of the first four months with injuries, but he’s looking like the elite contact hitter he’s been for the past decade. Altuve hit .520 last week alone, and he came out with three hits, a walk, and a stolen base in the Astros’ loss on Monday.
It’s going to be tough for Cueto to work around him, especially given the strength of the hitters behind Altuve. Luckily, Cueto has done a pretty nice job of limiting hits since returning from the IL. Opposing hitters are batting just .187 against him since his return, and he hasn’t allowed more than five hits in any start.
A .191 BABIP against Cueto indicates some of that might be luck, however, and if anyone can turn that luck around, it’s Altuve.
Marlins’ Power vs. Cristian Javier
The Marlins are near the bottom of the league with only 0.94 home runs per game, but don’t be fooled. Miami already has 18 home runs in 13 games this month, one more than they hit in the entire month of July (24 games).
Luis Arraez’s mini home run binge isn’t sustainable, but the arrivals of Bell and Burger have meaningfully upgraded a Marlins lineup that already had a premier power hitter in Jorge Soler. The Marlins were able to hit two home runs off of ground ball pitcher Framber Valdez on Monday, and they added another off of Hector Neris later on.
Is Cristian Javier in trouble? He has not had the season the Astros thought he’d have, and allowing 1.4 home runs per nine innings is a major reason why. With nine home runs allowed in his last seven starts, Javier needs a bounce-back effort – if he doesn’t get it, the Marlins are in position to pounce.
Astros vs. Marlins Starting Lineups
Astros Starting Lineup
2B Jose Altuve R
3B Alex Bregman R
DH Yordan Alvarez L
RF Kyle Tucker L
DH Yainer Diaz R
1B Jon Singleton L
LF Chas McCormick R
SS Jeremy Pena R
C Martin Maldonado R
Marlins Starting Lineup
DH Jorge Soler R
2B Luis Arraez L
1B Josh Bell S
CF Jazz Chisholm L
LF Bryan De La Cruz R
RF Jesus Sanchez L
3B Jake Burger R
SS Joey Wendle L
C Jacob Stallings R