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Despite being heavy favorites to reach the postseason once again, the two-time defending AL West division champion Houston Astros are off to a bit of an inauspicious start in 2019.

Entering Tuesday’s action, Houston has scored just 11 runs in its first five games, going 2-3 in the process. The under has hit in every game.

After racking up 100 wins in each of the last two seasons, it’s fair to wonder if the rest of the division is catching up. The Athletics were their biggest competition a year ago, breaking through into the postseason as a Wild Card team, so we’ll get an early answer to that when the two clubs meet for the first time this weekend.

It’s interesting to note that just like Houston, the A’s have been accumulating plenty of unders, with six of their first seven games finishing on the low side. However, last year, when the two clubs played each other, the over went 12-6-1. Let’s see if a similar result can play out.

Frankie Montas vs. Collin McHugh (Friday): It’s been a couple of years since he was last a member of Houston’s starting pitching staff but McHugh showed in his season debut that perhaps he should’ve never been in the bullpen in the first place.

After stifling the Rays over five sharp innings, the former Met will be in a position to succeed in the series opener. He owns 31-13 record to go with a desirable 3.33 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 76 career games (48 starts) at Minute Maid Park.

Montas was arguably more impressive in his season debut, stringing together six innings of one-run ball vs. the Angels and yielding only three baserunners. He’s proving right away that he was worthy of a rotation spot and looks like a good bet to keep building off last year’s success. UNDER

Aaron Brooks vs Wade Miley (Saturday): Through his nine years in the big leagues, Miley has proven to be a steady middle-of-the-rotation presence. In his Astros debut, the veteran southpaw lived up to that billing, twirling a quality start in Tampa Bay. However, he may have a difficult time here vs. a powerful A’s lineup that finished tied for the fifth-most homers off left-handed pitching last year.

His counterpart, Brooks, doesn’t figure to play much of a role in preventing a potential over. While he did shine Monday in his season debut and beat the Red Sox, the fact remains that Brooks’ only lengthy season in the majors (2015) saw the former ninth-round draft pick post a 6.71 ERA and .321 batting average against in 11 games. OVER

Mike Fiers vs Brad Peacock (Sunday): The case can be made that two of the AL’s most underappreciated starters will be going at it in the series finale.

Fiers, for instance, played a role in his teams getting to the postseason in each of the last two years, but was left off the postseason roster both times. One of those teams leaving him off was Houston. On Sunday, he returns to Minute Maid Park, where he owns a 3.72 ERA in 36 career starts.

Peacock has certainly been underrated as well, finally making it back into the rotation after spending all of last year in the bullpen. When he was last a full-time starter two seasons ago, the 31-year-old right-hander went 10-2 in 21 starts with a 3.22 ERA. UNDER

Last week: 1-2

Season: 1-2

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