Houston (Fister) -125 at Oakland (Mengden) O/U 8.5
The Houston Astros will try to avoid the three-game sweep this afternoon in Oakland with sinkerballer Doug Fister on the hill. There is a lot not to like about Fister's body of work this season with only 69 strikeouts in 111.1 innings to go with a fortunate .257 BABIP and 78.5% left-on-base rate. His ERA (3.64) to FIP (4.72) differential is one of the highest in the league among qualified starters. But what Fister does is keep the ball on the ground and churn out quality starts. In 18 starts, Fister has allowed three runs or fewer 15 times. The markets may not like him but as opposed to laying -180 like bettors were forced to last night with Dallas Keuchel, we're instead getting a far cheaper price of -125. Oakland's Daniel Mengden has the potential to be a back-of-the-rotation arm but he isn't there yet. He's managed to fan a batter per inning but has already shown signs of wearing down having allowed 16 earned runs over his last three starts. Also note that four of Mengden's seven starts came against National League teams. When asked to step up in class against Toronto and today's opponent, Houston, Mengden lasted only eight combined innings and surrendered 12 runs. Command or reluctance to come in the zone is also a concern with 18 walks in 39 innings. Play is warranted on the short road favorite.