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Pick: Rangers to Win
One of Friday’s most intriguing MLB games is potentially an unexpected World Series preview between the Miami Marlins and the Texas Rangers. Both teams have playoff hopes heading down the stretch but find themselves in tight races. Needless to say, every game is important for both teams, making Friday’s series opener a big game that both the Marlins and Rangers will be eager to win.
For all intents and purposes, the Marlins are out of the NL East race. However, they are neck and neck with the Brewers for the final Wild Card spot while also not far behind the Giants and Phillies for the other two Wild Card spots. Of course, the Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Padres are also close behind in the Wild Card race. With four losses in their last six games, Miami can’t afford to keep slipping, especially with the team’s next 15 games against teams with a winning record.
As for the Rangers, they welcome the Marlins to town fresh off a three-game sweep of the White Sox. That appears to have them back on track after a 2-7 stretch at the end of July. As it stands, Texas is just barely holding off the Astros at the top of the AL West standings. That doesn’t give the Rangers much margin for error if they want to hold off Houston for the division lead.
Naturally, there are tight odds for Friday’s game with the Rangers favored with a moneyline of -155. Meanwhile, DraftKings lists Miami’s moneyline at +130. There is also an over/under of 8.5 runs.
Lefty Jesus Luzardo will get the start for Miami on Friday. He’s been a big reason why the Marlins are in a position to compete for a playoff spot. Luzardo is 8-5 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. More importantly, the Marlins are 15-7 in his starts this year. Luzardo is also coming off a strong July in which he pitched to a 2.89 ERA over five starts. The caveat is that he’s failed to get through the fifth inning in two of his last three starts. But with the Marlins winning five of his last six starts, they’ll be confident with him on the mound, especially after adding Jorge Lopez and David Robertson as bullpen reinforcements at the trade deadline.
With Luzardo on the mound, the Marlins may not need a lot of run support, although they’re likely to need some against the Rangers. Miami failed to add a catcher at the deadline, although Josh Bell and Jake Burger are welcomed additions to a lineup that includes the presumptive batting champ in Luis Arraez and power hitter Jorge Soler.
Arraez has been hot lately, hitting better than .400 over the past week, while Soler is up to 26 home runs. At the same time, Jesus Sanchez and Yuli Gurriel have also come alive lately to give the Marlins even more depth. While erratic offensively at times, the Marlins have scored at least six runs in four of their last eight games. With the additions they acquired at the deadline, the Miami lineup is capable of doing some damage.
The Rangers will debut one of their trade-deadline additions on Friday with lefty Jordan Montgomery set to make his Texas debut. Montgomery made 21 starts for the Cardinals before being traded, going 6-9 with a 3.42 ERA. After enduring a rough patch in May, Montgomery posted a 1.71 ERA in June and pitched to a 3.10 ERA in July. That includes a July 18 start against the Marlins in which he allowed just one run on six hits over six innings. However, outside of Soler and Joey Wendle, who are both 0 for 9 against him in their careers, a few members of the Marlins have had some success against Montgomery in limited at-bats against him.
The good news for Montgomery is he can expect a lot more run support in Texas than what he was getting in St. Louis. The Rangers sent five position players to the All-Star Game, including four starters, giving Texas one of the most dynamic lineups in baseball. The caveat is that Jonah Heim is on the IL, taking away some of the team’s depth. However, Mitch Garver has proven to be a more than adequate backup.
The Rangers also experienced a team-wide slump toward the end of July with Marcus Semien, Josh Jung, and others cooling off. The good news is that Corey Seager returned from the IL on Wednesday, coinciding with an 11-run output by Texas that could help to get them going. With the Texas offense coming alive and a trustworthy pitcher like Montgomery on the mound, the Rangers are poised to win their fourth straight game on Friday night.
With two quality pitchers like Luzardo and Montgomery on the mound, taking the under is tempting in this game. However, the Rangers are 32-18-6 O/U at home this season, hitting over 64% of the time. While the Marlins hit the under more often than the over, Miami hits the over a little more often on the road. Now that the Rangers are starting to heat up offensively and the Marlins added to their lineup at the trade deadline, both teams are capable of scoring runs in this game. Regardless of who’s on the mound, the over on 8.5 runs is the best bet.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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