Best MLB player prop bets for today 10/18: Houston's offense spoils Max Scherzer's return
The Texas Rangers won both Game 1 and Game 2 of the ALCS in Houston and will now return home to play in front of their fired-up home crowd. Max Scherzer will return from the IL for Game 3, marking his first competitive action since September 12. His level of effectiveness will be tested against a potent Astros offense, one that has had success against him this season and in the past. This article covers my favorite betting angles for Game 3’s matchup. Let’s dive in!
Check out our Houston Astros vs Texas Rangers predictions
Houston Astros first 3 innings team total over 1.5 (+135) (risk 0.5u)
Odds available at DraftKings sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to +110 odds.
Houston Astros first 5 innings team total over 2.5 (+124) (risk 0.5u)
Odds available at DraftKings sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to +100 odds.
I am splitting my unit on 2 plus-money stabs at the same angle: fading Max Scherzer in his return to a competitive setting Wednesday night. The leash for the future Hall-of-Famer is unknown given he hasn’t seen an MLB mound in 35 days, but we do know that he threw 68 pitches in his last live batting practice on Wednesday before throwing a bullpen on Friday. If pitching well, I would assume we see 4 or 5 innings from the right-hander, but pitching well is no guarantee in this tough matchup.
The Houston Astros handled business against the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS, winning that series 3-1 with 9 and 6 run outburts in 2 of those wins. Their offense was extremely productive once again this season, especially when together as a healthy unit in the 2nd half. They were shutout in Game 1 of the ALCS against Texas before scoring only 4 runs in a Game 2 loss yesterday, but offensive struggles have been a theme at home this year for the club. Houston averaged just 4.44 runs at home this year, ranking 17th in MLB, while scoring 5.71 runs on the road which ranked 2nd highest behind the Dodgers. Trailing 2-0 with the series now in Texas, Houston will look to lean on their offense against a veteran arm they have had success against.
Scherzer’s 2nd to last start before hitting the IL was against these Astros in a game that Justin Verlander started for Houston. In the matchup of former Tigers and Mets teammates, Scherzer was roughed up, allowing 2 walks, 6 hits, 3 home runs, and 7 earned runs in only 3 innings of work. He entered that game in good form with back-to-back starts against Minnesota combining for 13 innings of 2-run ball, but Houston hit him hard regardless. In that start, the right-hander generated just a 25% GB% while allowing a 50% hard-hit%. His 5 batted ball events allowed on his 4-seamer and cutter combined for an average exit velocity of over 98 MPH in that outing. This makes sense with Houston ranking 1st in both AVG and wOBA against right-handed 4-seamers and cutters since the all-star break.
In 168 combined PA against Scherzer all time, active Astros batters have a .287 batting average and .830 OPS. Supplementary pieces like Michael Brantley and Jose Abreu have had success that stands out in that sample, and they should have runners on base given their positioning in the order and the batters typically ahead of them. Scherzer saw a significant increase in his BB% and decrease in his K% when facing left-handed batters this season. Brantley is the 3rd toughest lefty to get out in the Astros order with Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker producing as some of the best left-handed bats in the sport this season. Alvarez in particular has maintained his hot hitting throughout the postseason, posting a 1.701 OPS with 8 extra-base hits in his first 25 PA these playoffs. Scherzer allowed more power to right-handed batters this season, however, and that brings the rest of the lineup into play.
It will be interesting to see if Martin Maldonado starts for Houston in Game 3 given the team’s deficit in the series and their need for offensive production. He started 28 of Cristian Javier’s 31 regular season starts this year, but we could see him pinch-hit for early on due to his lack of offensive production, and the fantastic production of their other option. Rookie Yainer Diaz could see a pinch-hit opportunity early again in Game 3, seeing an at-bat within the first 5 innings like he did in Game 2. Diaz clubbed 23 home runs in only 356 PA this season and his power could come into play if Houston finds themselves with runners on and Maldonado at the plate. Overall, the Astros have more than enough offensive firepower to get the job done in this spot.
I decided to split the first 3 and first 5 innings for this angle, as I don’t know exactly how short Scherzer’s leash is. If only betting one of them, I do favor the first 3 innings angle slightly. If both of these markets are unavailable to you, I would towards the full game team total over 4 for the Astros or the under on Scherzer’s 4.5 strikeout prop. The pricing on these team totals is what I would expect to see if Scherzer was in good form, but without seeing him pitch in so long, I doubt we see prime Mad Max. I will tip my cap to the all-time great if he can shut down this Houston lineup in Game 3, but with these prices, I am willing to bet against him in this spot. Look for the Houston offense to rebound from 2 down outings and give their team a chance at a Game 3 win.
Don’t miss our Houston Astros vs Texas Rangers Same Game Parlay at +710 odds