A couple of American League West foes will do battle in Oakland to open their 2021 season tonight. The Oakland Athletics won the division last season for the first time since 2013. The Houston Astros finished seven games back of the A’s but then knocked them out of the playoffs in the divisional round. Houston would go on to fall one win short of a World Series appearance, losing the ALCS in seven games to the Tampa Bay Rays. The A’s will be without their new closer, Trevor Rosenthal, who was placed on the injured list Thursday morning because of shoulder inflammation.
Astros vs. A’s, 10:07 p.m. ET, ESPN
ML Pick: Houston -114
The Astros underachieved during the shortened 2020 season, but they are still loaded with productive bats such as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. That trio was in a collective slump last year. We shouldn’t expect that to continue, and it helps that power-hitting DH Yordan Alvarez is back and fairly healthy after a lost 2020. Outfielder Kyle Tucker is a star in the making. Astros pitcher Zack Greinke will be making his fifth Opening Day start and although he hasn’t had much success in such outings throughout his career, he is still a better pitcher than A’s starter Chris Bassitt. This should be a close game, so Oakland’s shorthanded bullpen might play a prominent role in the result.
Player Prop: Jose Altuve O0.5 runs (+100)
Despite hitting only .219 with a .286 on-base percentage, Altuve still scored 32 runs in 48 games last year, good enough for third-most on the Astros. He will be leading off for Houston and has a bevy of run producers behind him if he can get on base in a favorable matchup versus Bassitt.
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