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Astros Need Innings From Keuchel

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Updated: .August 2, 2017

By Charles Jay

The Houston Astros may have the best record in the American League, but there could be some trouble on the horizon. That is because no matter how well they can hit the ball, they face diminished chances of winning the World Series – which is the ultimate goal – if their pitching can’t hold up. Wednesday night’s starter is not necessarily where the problem lies, but you have to wonder how long Dallas Keuchel will be allowed to go in only his second start off the disabled list as they square off against the Tampa Bay Rays in action that is set to begin at 8:10 PM ET at Minute Maid Park.

Remember that if you are an America’s Bookie customer, you can take advantage of two different “Live Betting” options that are in your sportsbook interface, as a way of keeping up with all the action.

The story with the Astros is that they have done a very good job, from the front office on down, of managing a situation in which they have been very banged up in the pitching department. A lot of people have gone down, and that now includes Lance McCullers, who was put back on the disabled list the other day. Dallas Keuchel spent more than a month and a half on the DL with neck problems, and he looked very much on his way to winning his second Cy Young Award in three seasons.

He’ll start on Wednesday, as he takes his 9-0 record and 1.94 ERA into action against Austin Pruitt (5-2, 6.63 ERA).

Houston Astros (Keuchel) -200
Tampa Bay Rays (Pruitt) +170

Under 8.5 Runs -115
Over 8.5 Runs -105

Astros -1.5 Runs +110
Rays +1.5 Runs -130

Keuchel’s first start back, which was five days ago, lasted only three innings against Detroit, as he let three runs score and nine batters reach base. Yeah, there was probably some rust, but this affects the start he’s making now. Keuchel threw 79 pitches in that outing, and you wonder how far manager AJ Hinch is going to let him go here.

That, in turn, is a big concern because Houston’s bullpen has suddenly become a weak spot. Will Harris (2.86 ERA) was on the DL, came off, and then went back on. Now Michael Feliz, who had been called up to replace McCullers on the roster, and Tony Sipp are on the 10-day DL. Those guys had high ERA’s, but they were live bodies, and they combined to make 80 appearances.

Francisco Liriano was picked up in a trade, but he’s not going to be of much use in the bullpen, by virtue of the fact that he didn’t seem to get out of the gate all that quickly as a starter. So the word is that the Astros players are a little unhappy that management, led by GM Jeff Lunhow, did not go out and get a pitcher who could have made an impact.

Look, the proof is in the pudding – the Astros’ bullpen has allowed 42 runs over its last 39-2/3 innings, so help is needed. Will they get it?

Pruitt came out of the bullpen against the Astros on April 22, and retired seven straight batters. But in the starter’s role, he’s been unsure of himself, giving up three homers in eight innings.

We think the Astros are going to need to turn to this bullpen, and it’s just a roll of the dice at that point. So our best call here, despite the presence of Keuchel, is to go OVER the total of 8.5 runs, as the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge continues on Wednesday night.

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