John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Astros Go to ChiTown to Face Lovable Losers


HOUSTON ASTROS (28-46) VS CHICAGO CUBS (29-42)
WRIGLEY FIELD IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS


The Houston Astros as coming off of a 5-2 homestand, taking consecutive series from the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. Their starting pitching has been outstanding over the last thirty days, posting an American League best 2.90 ERA during that time. The team is really starting to show some promise, and if the bats could be more consistent then the Astros could go on quite a run. Now that they are going back to a National League ballpark, the Astros will have to find a way to fit both Chris Carter and Carlos Pena into the lineup.

Fresh off of a series loss to the best team in baseball (the St. Louis Cardinals), the Chicago Cubs hope to get things going against a familiar opponent from the past. These two teams had battled it out for the fifth position in the NL Central the past couple seasons, and now they are on similar rebuilding paths. The Cubs have lost nine of their last 15 games and are currently tied for last in the Central, and 17 games back of the Cardinals.

Game 1: Friday, June 21st at 1:20 CT
Dallas Keuchel (4-3, 4.23 ERA) vs Matt Garza (1-1, 4.98 ERA)

Dallas Keuchel was able to continue his recent string of success against a struggling White Sox lineup. Sunday afternoon, Keuchel threw 6.1 innings and allowed just four hits and two earned runs in a winning effort. Over his last four outings he is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA.

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Matt Garza was solid in his last start versus the New York Mets. He threw seven shutout innings and allowed just three hits, but that was not good enough to get his team a win. The start before that, Garza was hammered by the Cincinnati Reds for nine runs at Wrigley. Over the last three seasons Garza has made five starts against the Astros, going 1-2 with a 4.45 ERA.

Game 2: Saturday, June 22nd at 3:05 CT
Bud Norris (5-7, 3.64 ERA) vs Travis Wood (5-6, 2.74 ERA)

Amidst heavy trade rumors, Bud Norris is having a solid season. His career home/road splits are well-documented, and Wrigley has not been too kind to Norris. In four starts at Wrigley, Norris is 1-3 with an ERA of 4.57 and has allowed eight home runs. This is a new and improved Norris that the Cubs will be seeing, however, as he has been able to keep the ball on the ground more this year. He has also shown a heavy dosage of changeups compared to years past.

While his win-loss record doesn’t show it, Travis Wood has had a strong month of June. This month he has made three starts against the top three teams in the NL Central, and has gone 0-3 with a 2.70 ERA. Of his 14 starts this year, all but one have been of the “quality” variety. Wood is 3-2 with a 1.89 ERA lifetime against the Astros.

Game 3: Sunday, June 23rd at 1:20 CT
Jordan Lyles (4-1, 3.22 ERA) vs Jeff Samardzija (4-7, 3.35 ERA)

Jordan Lyles continues to blow my mind with how well he’s pitched lately — and this is coming from a guy that predicted his 2013 success way back in February (see it here)! In his last seven starts, Lyles has gone 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA and allowed just ten walks during that span.

Jeff Samardzija dominated the Cardinals in his last start, pitching 8.1 innings and allowing just two runs while striking out six. He is currently third in the NL in strikeouts per nine innings, averaging nearly ten Ks/9. Samardzija is holding right-handed hitters to a .213 average and a .591 OPS this season.

WORTH NOTING:

  • According to their Pythagorean expectation, the Cubs should be just five games below .500 at 33-38.
  • Matt Dominguez‘s 0.18 BB/K ratio is the lowest among third basemen and fourth lowest in all of baseball.
  • Jordan Lyles’ 1.59 ERA over the last 30 days is third among AL starters during that time.

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Tags: Bud Norris Chicago Cubs Houston Astros Jordan Lyles