Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros: Predictions, Odds, Best Bets, Starting Lineups for ALDS Game 1 (10/7/23)
The Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins are set to square in a best-of-five ALDS series beginning Saturday night (10/7/23) at 4:45pm. Astros ace Justin Verlander takes the mound against the Twins’ Bailey Ober.
The Astros are the favorites to win the series at -160 and they are also -160 on the moneyline in Game 1, while the over/under is set at 8 runs. This article provides Twins vs. Astros analysis, predictions and best bets including a recommendation to bet on the Astros moneyline.
Twins vs. Astros Prediction
Starting pitchers: RHP Bailey Ober (8-6, 3.43 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (13-8, 3.22 ERA)
How much does playoff experience matter? That is a key question entering this series, as the Astros have more playoff experience than any other team in this year’s postseason. They have played 92 postseason games since 2015 – more than any other team – and have been to the World Series 4 times since 2017 (with 2 rings).
Most of the Astros’ roster has been together for a large chunk of those postseason runs, with the notable exception being Carlos Correa, who is now a member of the Twins. On the other hand, Minnesota has made the playoffs just three times over that same span, and they had not won any playoff series since 2002 until dispatching the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card round this season.
On the point about a lack of experience, the Twins are relying heavily on a rookie in the middle of their lineup. Royce Lewis has been nothing short of sensational since joining the big league club on May 29. The 1st overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Lewis followed up a stellar regular season with home runs on his first two at-bats in the postseason, single-handedly providing all the runs the Twins needed to win Game 1 over Toronto. Can he keep that up as the stakes ratchet up even higher in the Divisional Series?
Royce Lewis: 3rd player in MLB history (and second Twins player!) to homer in each of his 1st two career postseason plate appearances.
Gary Gaetti (1987)
Evan Longoria (2008)
Royce Lewis (2023)
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) October 3, 2023
Lewis did that against Blue Jays ace Kevin Gausman, and now the Twins face Astros ace Justin Verlander, one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time. Verlander has pitched in 35 postseason games in his career (34 starts, 207-2/3 innings), and is 16-11 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in those appearances. Those 16 career playoff wins are the second-most all-time behind Andy Pettitte (19).
Since returning to the Astros at the trade deadline, Verlander logged a 3.57 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 11 starts (68 innings). Those numbers are far from vintage Verlander numbers, but he did finish the season strong in two high-leverage outings against playoff-contending teams in the Mariners and Diamondbacks. He pitched 8 innings of 1-run ball against Seattle and 5 scoreless innings against Arizona. Verlander has not faced the Twins this season.
In another stark contrast of experience vs. youth, Bailey Ober will make his first career postseason appearance opposite Verlander. The 6-9 righty was not as dominant as Sonny Gray or Pablo López this season, but he was arguably the Twins’ most consistent starting pitcher.
Ober pitched at least 5 innings in 24 of his 26 starts, and he had a 3.10 ERA in those outings. If he can eat up some innings for the Twins and keep pace with Verlander through roughly the first 5 innings, he will give the Twins a great chance to win this game.
As solid as Ober has been, the nod here certainly goes to Verlander, who will be the big difference in this game. The Twins have a great chance to win this series with Gray and López pitching the next two games, but they will have to come back from an 0-1 hole as the Astros will win Game 1.
Houston’s -160 moneyline odds don’t offer much value here, so the best bet we recommend is laying the -1.5 runs on the spread at +136 odds. We lean towards the over on a total of 7.5 runs, but we prefer to stay away from betting the total in this game.
Twins vs. Astros Prediction: Astros -1.5 (+135 at Caesars)
Twins vs. Astros Odds
The Astros the betting favorites at -160 on the moneyline, while the Twins’ moneyline odds are at +135.
At most sportsbooks, the Astros are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at around +135 odds, while the Twins are getting +1.5 runs at around -160. BetMGM has the spread at Astros -2.5 with +200 odds on the Astros and -250 odds on the Twins.
The over/under in this game is set at 8 runs, though it has been available at some sportsbooks at 7.5. Both the over and the under are listed at -110 odds.
Twins vs. Astros Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Twins vs. Astros.
Justin Verlander vs. Twins’ lefties
Our trust in Justin Verlander was the main reason we picked the Astros -1.5 against the spread in our Twins vs. Astros prediction for ALDS Game 1. For that trust to pay off, Verlander needs to care of business against the Twins’ left-handed hitters, which he has done very well throughout his career and especially this season.
Verlander’s career splits are slightly better against lefties than they are against righties, and this season his reverse splits were much more dramatic. He held lefties to just a .584 OPS and .257 wOBA while allowing a .708 OPS and .306 wOBA against righties.
Several of the Twins’ best hitters are left-handed, including Max Kepler, Alex Kiriloff, and Jorge Polanco (a switch-hitter with much better career numbers batting lefty). Those three hitters are a combined 3-for-40 (.075) lifetime against Verlander.
If Verlander shuts down the Twins’ lefties, that will put even more pressure on the Twins’ best righties, Lewis and Correa. Correa has good career numbers against his former teammate, with a .417 average (5-for-12) and a 1.283 OPS.
Both of these bullpens are well-rested and have plenty of quality arms to use in the late innings. The Astros finished 7th in bullpen ERA this season at 3.56, while the Twins finished 15th at 3.95. Both teams finished strong with top 10 bullpens over the final month, with the Astros posting a 2.84 ERA (5th) over that span and the Twins logging a 3.40 (9th).
A big factor late in this game could be the Astros’ lack of lefty relievers against the Twins’ lefty-heavy lineup, as nearly every Astros reliever is right-handed. That has not been an issue for the Astros for most of the season, but over the final month they were much better against righties than against lefties.
The Astros have a slight edge in the bullpen, especially considering the greater postseason experience, and that could be a big factor late in this game.
Twins vs. Astros Starting Lineups (Projected)
Twins Starting Lineup
2B Edouard Julien (L)
3B Jorge Polanco (S)
DH Royce Lewis (R)
RF Max Kepler (L)
1B Alex Kiriloff (L)
SS Carlos Correa (R)
LF Matt Wallner (L)
C Ryan Jeffers (R)
CF Michael A. Taylor (R)
Astros Starting Lineup
2B Jose Altuve (R)
3B Alex Bregman (R)
DH Yordan Alvarez (L)
RF Kyle Tucker (L)
1B Jose Abreu (R)
LF Chas McCormick (R)
SS Jeremy Pena (R)
CF Mauricia Dubon (R)
C Martin Maldonado (R)