The Houston Astros continue their West Coast swing as they kick off a key three-game set with the divisional rival Los Angeles Angels on Monday night. First pitch from Angel Stadium is set for 9:38 p.m. ET. AL Rookie of the Year frontrunner Hunter Brown (3-1, 2.60 ERA) gets the ball for Houston while the Halos counter with lefty Patrick Sandoval (3-1, 2.93).
The Astros enter as -125 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Angels listed as narrow +105 underdogs. The run total is set at 9.
Astros-Angels picks: Monday, May 8
Day to day: OF Chas McCormick (back)
Out: SP Luis Garcia (elbow), SP Jose Urquidy (shoulder), 2B Jose Altuve (thumb), RP Parker Mushinski (back), SP Lance McCullers Jr. (forearm), OF Michael Brantley (shoulder)
Out: C Max Stassi (hip, personal), 1B Jared Walsh (head), RP Aaron Loup (hamstring), RP Austin Warren (elbow), RP Jose Quijada (elbow)
Hunter Brown vs. Patrick Sandoval
Brown’s been largely sensational in his first taste of the Majors, although he did struggle a bit last time out against the San Francisco Giants when he gave up two runs on four hits and an ugly five walks in just 4.1 innings. The command is definitely a concern, largely because he’s so dependent on his slider and curve — throwing them 65 percent of the time. When he lands them in the zone, he can be devastating, as evidenced by Brown’s three starts already in which he went seven innings while allowing no earned runs.
Sandoval sports an ugly 1.27 WHIP, largely because of command issues that have plagued the lefty his whole career (his 11.2% walk rate ranks in the 25th percentile of all pitchers). When he’s not handing out free passes, though, he induces tons of weak contact thanks to a solid changeup and slider that he throws a combined 60 percent of the time. Sandoval’s allowed more than two runs just once in six starts this year, but he’s struggled in his career against the Astros, with an ERA over 8 in eight appearances.
Both of these pitchers could be undone by command issues, but they’ve also largely kept runs off the board this year and are good bets to do so again on Monday night. The Angels have been scoring in bunches recently, but I’m betting on Brown’s slider to carve up a righty-heavy L.A. lineup and keep this one under the total.
Pick: Under 9
Houston is struggling offensively, but they’ve been a bit better against lefties than righties, and I think that — combined with Sandoval’s struggles against them in the recent past — will tilt game one toward the Astros.