The Astros are beginning to count the days until they clinch their sixth consecutive postseason berth, but the Twins find themselves on the outside-looking-in after a recent slide and badly need a win to close out their series in Houston. Minnesota will put Chris Archer on the mound in the series finale Thursday, facing scuffling Houston righty Luis Garcia.
Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Thursday’s matchup.
Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros Betting Odds
The Astros enter as -155 home favorites on the moneyline, with the over/under set at 8 runs. Despite a sluggish offensive month for the Twins (and the rest of the sport), 8 runs seems low. Luis Garcia is coming off some tough outings, and the Astros’ lineup is healthy enough to do some damage against Chris Archer and the Twins’ bullpen. There is also some value in the Twins at +135. If they’re going to win one game in this series, Thursday might give them the best chance.
Minnesota Twins Starting Lineup
1B L. Arraez L
SS C. Correa R
DH J. Miranda R
2B J. Polanco S
RF M. Kepler L
LF N. Gordon L
3B G. Urshela R
CF G. Celestino R
C G. Sanchez R
Minnesota Twins vs. Luis Garcia
Luis Garcia might be pitching his way out of a spot in the Astros’ postseason rotation, as he’s been the weak link lately in an otherwise strong group. Garcia has a 4.98 ERA dating back to the start of July, including a 5.25 mark in August. He’s still been able to give the Astros length, but strikeouts have been down while hits are up considerably this month.
Across 22 starts this season, Garcia has a 4.09 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, and 9.3 K/9 rate. Aside from an elevated ERA and FIP, Garcia’s raw numbers are mostly on par with last season, with a slightly higher home run rate the cause of some of his problems.
The Twins are 4th in the AL with 1.19 HR/game, but they’re missing Byron Buxton, who went on the IL with a hip injury. Minnesota is also sporting a season-low .673 OPS in August and has only 5 home runs in its last 9 games. Two of those home runs came from rookie Jose Miranda, who is hitting .322 since June 17 and is a major threat to do some damage along with Luis Arraez. Gio Urshela and former Astros star Carlos Correa have been hitting the ball well of late. If the Twins can take advantage of a short left field and ensure Garcia’s home run issues persist, they have a real chance to come away with a win.
Houston Astros Starting Lineup
2B J. Altuve R
1B Y. Gurriel R
LF Y. Alvarez L
3B A. Bregman R
RF K. Tucker L
DH T. Mancini R
SS J. Pena R
CF J. Meyers R
C M. Maldonado R
Houston Astros vs. Chris Archer
Chris Archer has been one of the best stories in baseball this season, if only because he’s been able to give the Twins 21 starts after struggling with major injuries over the last three years. That comes with its limitations, of course. Archer has only thrown 80+ pitches once this season, so his starts have become a project for a Twins bullpen that sits 10th in the AL in ERA.
Archer has a respectable 4.02 ERA over 87.1 IP this season, with a 4.26 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, and 7.8 K/9. Walks have been a bit of an issue for Archer all year, and it’s been tough sledding lately for the right-hander with a 6.23 ERA over his last six outings.
Archer has done a nice job of limiting the damage from his control issues, keeping hits and home runs low. The Astros have an offense built to make pitchers pay for mistakes, though. High on power and low on strikeouts, the Astros are batting .275 as a team in August – easily their best mark of the season.
While the home runs haven’t been as frequent as they once were, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker have both been hitting like all-stars this month and taken the pressure off Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve; Bregman is hitting .368 with 4 home runs in his last 9 games. Houston’s lineup is so deep that a semi-bullpen game from the Twins should be a concern for Minnesota bettors. All it takes is one or two pitchers to have an off day against this offense.
Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros Picks & Prediction
My pick: Over 8 Runs (-115)
Maybe Luis Garcia takes this opportunity to deliver a bounce-back performance, but both he and Chris Archer have been too unsteady this month to ignore the over. The Twins should show some signs of life after facing Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez back-to-back, while Houston’s offense is probably too talented to get shut down by Archer and the Minnesota bullpen. Twins +1.5 may also be a solid bet if more money is on the Astros’ side – this is the most winnable game of the series for Minnesota.