The Astros and Rangers renew their in-state rivalry with three games at Minute maid Park this week. Both teams were 2-5 last week. The Astros continue to occupy the A.L. West cellar and the Rangers now stand at an even .500 on the season.
Starting pitching could prove to be the key to this 3-game set. Both of these rotations have gone through some recent changes. And, as luck would have it, the Astros should miss the Rangers’ top two starters this time around.
Martin Perez, the Rangers leader with four wins, is sidelined by elbow inflammation and appears to be headed to the disabled list. Yu Darvish, fresh off his 126-pitch near no-hitter, has been pushed back to get a couple of days extra rest. Nick Tepesch has been called up from AAA and is scheduled to start in Yu’s normal spot on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Astros starters have been on a bit of a hot streak. Brad Peacock will try to extend the team’s five game streak of quality starts when he takes the mound tonight. Peacock started the streak with a 6 & 2/3 inning performance in his last outing. In that outing, against Detroit, a bad first inning ended up costing Peacock the game. After walking the leadoff hitter and surrendering a 2-run homer to Miguel Cabrera, Peacock settled down nicely. His final line included 3 runs scored on a total of 3 hits and 4 walks.
Peacock will be opposed by Colby Lewis in tonight’s series opener. After missing a year-and-a-half with hip and elbow injuries, Lewis has made five starts for the Rangers this season. The 34-year old has yet to get back on track, allowing a .355 BAA in 25 innings. His last start came Wednesday against Colorado and was his worst of the year. The Rockies knocked Lewis out of the game early, scoring seven runs on 12 hits in his 3 & 2/3 innings pitched.
Tomorrow’s game is a matchup between lefties Matt Harrison and Dallas Keuchel. Like Lewis, Harrison also recently returned from a lengthy battle with injuries. Matt is 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA in three starts this year. Keuchel has been a pleasant surprise out of the #5 spot in the Astros rotation, leading the team with three wins and 40 strikeouts.
Wednesday’s finale pits Nick Tepesch against former Ranger Scott Feldman. Tepesch has been outstanding at AAA Round Rock, going 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA in seven starts. The big right-hander didn’t fare as well in 19 appearances with the Rangers last year, posting an ERA+ of 85 in 93 innings. Feldman is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in five starts with the Astros and looked fully recovered from a bout with shoulder tendinitis in his last start.
Both teams have been struggling to score runs lately. The Rangers have scored three runs or less in six of their last nine games and the Astros are near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories. After getting of to a slow start through the month of April, Elvis Andrus is currently enjoying an 8-game hitting streak. Adrian Beltre has 15 career homeruns against Houston and is 1 for 4 with a homer against tonight’s starter, Peacock.