MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Arizona Diamondbacks at Houston Astros

Date/Time: July 31, 8:10 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Rubby De La Rosa (8-5, 4.52) vs. Scott Feldman (4-5, 4.54)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Houston -130

Total: 8

Playing spoiler isn’t a big deal in baseball until September, but the Arizona Diamondbacks have a good chance at being a team that can impact a lot of races over the last two months of the season. They’ll have the chance to do that, on a small scale, this weekend against the Houston Astros. The Diamondbacks swept the Seattle Mariners prior to this series, so they come in hot against an Astros team that has been terrific since the All-Star Break. Friday’s pitching matchup could yield some offensive fireworks as Rubby De La Rosa takes on Scott Feldman.

It’s interesting that both the Diamondbacks and Astros limped into the All-Star Break. The Diamondbacks got all the way up to .500 after a 15-21 start and then got swept by the Mets just before the Break. The Astros dropped eight of nine to let the Angels sneak into first place. Out of the Break, however, both of these young teams seem rejuvenated and reenergized. That should make for a good series this weekend.

Rubby de la Rosa is a polarizing figure in baseball circles. People want to believe in the stuff. They want to believe in the swings and misses. They want to believe in the velocity. And then the results aren’t there and they want to stop believing. Initially, it was control that completely evaded de la Rosa and now it’s command. He has made some significant strides with throwing strikes and pitching ahead in the count. But, too many of those pitches have been center cut, leading to 22 home runs allowed in 125.1 innings of work.

A big reason why de la Rosa can’t find success is because his splits are staggering. This season, righties are batting just .215/.266/.317 with a 64/15 K/BB ratio. Lefties are feasting with a .298/.357/.575 slash and a 42/21 K/BB ratio. For reference purposes, the .399 wOBA that lefties have against de la Rosa is on par with Nelson Cruz’s season-to-date performance. After giving up 12 runs and failing to get through six innings in each of his last three starts before the break, de la Rosa has allowed one run on nine hits over his last 15 innings. He has allowed two or fewer runs in nine of his 20 starts and four or more runs in nine of his 20 starts. You just never know what to expect.

You basically know what to expect from Scott Feldman and it’s not very good. The Astros have been in search of another starting pitcher because Feldman is the weak link in their rotation. In 12 starts covering 73.1 innings of work, Feldman has allowed a 4.54 ERA with a 4.25 FIP and a 3.80 xFIP. His high rate of contact makes him pretty hit or miss on a regular basis and he has missed more than he has hit. Poor command hasn’t made anything easier with a 15 percent HR/FB% rate. His 26.3 percent line drive rate against is also one of the highest among starters with at least 70 innings pitched.

Feldman is what he is, a fifth starter that can munch some innings if his command is average that day. He doesn’t miss a whole lot of bats and only his cutter rates above average. Fortunately, Feldman’s heaviest usage is on the cutter, which is why he has been able to post decent peripherals, even if his ERA is rather unpleasant. Feldman missed time from May 26 to July 18. He threw 7.2 great innings against the Royals his last time out, so maybe he can build off of that success.

MLB Prediction: Houston Astros

Rubby de la Rosa’s command problems are way too much to overlook against a powerful lineup like the Astros. Feldman isn’t great, but he’s serviceable more often than not and should get quite a bit of assistance from the Astros. The best play on this game may be the over, since Feldman is very reliant on batted ball luck and his defense to not give up a lot of runs. The Diamondbacks have a good offensive team. They have been a good bet in interleague games in AL parks because of their ability to put the best defensive team on the field, but Minute Maid Park’s short dimensions to left and right may neutralize some of that advantage.