The 2021 MLS Cup is preparing to begin and there are set to be 14 teams competing for the honor of being crowned champions at the end of a long season. But who is likely to be involved in the running for the title? Let's take a look at the betting picks.
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Thursday Night Baseball: Houston Astros Vs. Texas Rangers
Pitching Matchup: Lance McCullers Jr. (5-5, 3.10 ERA) vs. Colby Lewis (15-8, 4.45 ERA)
Lance McCullers: After crossing the 100 innings threshold over his last start, it is officially time to call Lance McCullers' rookie season a swinging success – no pun intended. To go with his strong ERA, McCullers has been striking out batters at a rate of 9 per 9 innings and has only allowed 5 home runs this entire season. McCullers has one start against the Rangers in his career, posting an ERA of 162.00 – that is not a typo that is 6 runs given up over a third of an inning. This game cannot be overly analysed but it was a start in Texas, as is tonight’s game and the Rangers have been on a roll dating back to beginning of August, when McCullers first pitched against them.
Colby Lewis: A reasonable argument can be made that this is Colby Lewis’ best Major League season. His win total is already a career best and he is close to setting a new career high in innings. He is not striking out batters at the same clip as he was during Texas’ World Series years, but his walk rate and WHIP are close to personal bests. Lewis has been light outs against the Astros over his career going 8-1 with an ERA of 2.25 – and remember Houston only recently moved to the AL, so the majority of these starts have come in the past few years, including a 3-0 record - over four stars - this season.
The Youth Movement
Including McCullers, the Astros have had some great success with rookies. Joining McCullers, the Astros have relief pitcher Vincent Velasquez, left fielder Preston Tucker and shortstop Carlos Correa. As important as each player has been to the Astros success, Correa has been the largest contributor. Correa – a heavy favourite for American League Rookie of the Year- has legitimized himself as a multi-tool shortstop with a bright future. His 18 home runs, OPS of .847, 12 stolen bases and a .973 fielding percentage are just a few of his impressive stats.
The Team of Destiny is an Oddity
Not including Wednesday night’s game, the Rangers are 20-10 over the last 30 games, and 35-21 post All-Star break. This has allowed the Rangers to leap frog multiple teams to lead the second Wild Card, with the division lead right in their grasps – and actually lead it by a half game as of Wednesday night. The Rangers going against many baseball metrics which say they should be much worse than they are, but the Rangers players, managers and fans do not care and they just keep on winning.
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