A whole season of work has officially boiled down to just one game for the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. Perhaps it’s fitting, for two teams from the same division who each won exactly 90 games; back in previous formats, there would have been a one-game winner-take-all playoff to decide a division winner, and that’s where we are, it just took a few extra steps to get here. Let’s take a look at the odds for this thrilling game seven matchup, where my prediction is for the Astros to win and reach a third straight World Series.
Rangers Vs. Astros Prediction
It’s been a truly bizarre series to this point, as the home teams are 0-6 after a huge Rangers win in game six to stave off elimination. Nathan Eovaldi moved to 4-0 this postseason with another nice performance, while the Rangers lineup was able to erase an early 1-0 deficit by chipping away against Framber Valdez and then opening things up in a big way against the bullpen, capped off by an Adolis García grand slam.
The Astros actually had a losing record at home this year, so it’s not too crazy that the Rangers have flipped home field advantage in this way, although their three straight losses in Arlington were very disappointing. They’ll have a chance to make things right in this “win or go home” scenario against by far the best postseason team of the past decade, and they’ll need the help of someone who’s been in nearly this exact spot before.
That would be legendary righty Max Scherzer, who is now 39 years old and pitching through an injury. He started game seven of the 2019 World Series, in Houston, and capped off a series in which home teams went 0-7. Mad Max received a cortisone shot before that game too, another eerie similarity to this game, where he will be pitching through the pain once again after an injury to his throwing shoulder. Scherzer will be looking for redemption, as he surrendered five runs in just four innings of work in game three of this series, which was his first start in around a month in the wake of that injury.
He’ll once again be facing Cristian Javier, who had a rough regular season but is inexplicably yet unsurprisingly turning it up in the postseason. After an awful August and September, he’s allowed just two earned runs, both to Texas, in 10.2 innings of work across these playoffs, and Houston will be looking for another strong performance from him tonight.
They’re likely to get just that; Javier’s postseason record is undeniable, with a career playoff ERA of 2.08, 60 strikeouts, and a record of 16-4 across 43.1 innings of work. Scherzer held a similar standard in October throughout the decade of the 2010s, but the last few years have been different; perhaps he gave his all for that ring in 2019, as Father Time seems to finally be catching up to the future Hall of Famer.
I’d like to lean towards the under at this high number, but with Javier’s form throughout the year and the uncertainty around Scherzer’s health and ability to perform at this stage, we can’t fully invest in either of them, nor can we trust the bullpens, which have routinely imploded in this series. Instead, let’s bet the most predictable outcome for any key postseason game over the past seven or so years; an Astros win, and a chance to secure back-to-back titles by beating either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Philadelphia Phillies.
Rangers Vs. Astros Prediction: Astros ML (-125)
Rangers Vs. Astros Odds
Oct. 23, 7:03 PM Spread Total Odds updated October 23rd, 2023, at 10:23 pm
TEX @ HOU
Oct. 23, 7:03 PM
Odds updated October 23rd, 2023, at 10:23 pm
The Astros are narrow home favorites, with -125 odds on the moneyline and just +155 to cover a spread of -1.5. The Rangers are +105 and -190 on the opposite sides of those two lines, while the over is -105 and the under -115 for a scoring total of 9.
Rangers Vs. Astros Key Matchups
After the last Scherzer-Javier clash was a total non-contest, let’s see how things might unfold in the all-important rematch between these two highly accomplished postseason arms.
Max Scherzer Vs. Astros Power Hitters
Mad Max gave up 1.7 homers per nine innings of work this year, a far cry from his usual standard. He struggled with big hits in his game three appearance as well, as he surrendered just five hits and one walk, but was really sunk by a José Abreu double and one of many José Altuve playoff homers. His ground ball percentage this year was near the league’s lowest, and he struggled a bit with allowing barrels as well, so this pitfall shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for the aging legend.
In addition to Abreu and Altuve, the team’s biggest power threat is undoubtedly Yordan Álvarez, who has crushed six homers this postseason, as well as a pair of doubles, and is hitting .436 after an excellent but abbreviated regular season. Kyle Tucker had a good regular season at the plate as he slugged .517, while Alex Bregman was quieter than usual but as always, has been a threat in October.
Cristian Javier Vs. Rangers Power Hitters
Yes, we’re looking at the same matchup here, although the issue hasn’t been quite as glaring for Javier, one of the main reasons I’m sticking with his side in my Astros vs. Rangers prediction. Javier only gave up three hits in game three, one of which was a homer to rookie Josh Jung, and the other a double to September call-up Evan Carter.
Texas’s total of 233 homers was third in the majors this regular season, as was their slugging percentage of .452. García led the way with 39 homers, and he is again in the playoffs with five, while Corey Seager smacked 33 in just 119 games while slugging .623, better than even his impressive postseason mark.
Rangers Vs. Astros Starting Lineups
Rangers Starting Lineup
2B Marcus Semien R
SS Corey Seager L
DH Mitch Garver R
RF Adolis Garcia R
LF Evan Carter L
C Jonah Heim S
1B Nate Lowe L
3B Josh Jung R
CF Leody Taveras S
Astros Starting Lineup
2B Jose Altuve R
3B Alex Bregman R
DH Yordan Álvarez L
RF Kyle Tucker L
1B Jose Abreu R
LF Michael Brantley L
LF Chas McCormick R
SS Jeremy Pena R
C Martin Maldonado R