The Houston Astros will be welcoming the boys from the Windy City as they open a three game series tonight with the Cubs. The Astros are coming off their best game of the season, a 7-2 win over the Marlins on Sunday where as the Cubs dropped two straight to the Brewers over the weekend. The key word for this game will be pitching as both teams will be looking to get pitchers on track in the early part of the season.
Game 1: April 11th, 8:05 PM (ET)
HOU: Nelson Figueroa vs. CHC: Ryan Dempster
This is an interesting match up between Figueroa and Dempster as both pitchers are looking to get on track after poor starts to the season but pitchers are in different positions on their teams. Ryan Dempster is the ace of the Cubs staff and one of the responsibilities of an ace is to pitch a strong game and put his team in a position to win and end a losing skid. The problem is that Dempster has given up 10 earned runs over his first two starts and has looked nothing like an ace. I expect him to be very focused tonight and get after Astros’ batters. Nelson Figueroa on the other hand is for the most part just keeping the seat warm for Jordan Lyles and if he keeps pitching like he did in his first start, Lyles will be here sooner rather than later. I expect a good performance from Figueroa tonight.
Game 2: April 12th, 8:05 PM (ET)
HOU: Brett Myers vs. CHC: James Russell
James Russell gets the ball in Game 2 as he steps into the rotation for injured Andrew Cashner, who went on the 15 day DL. Russell has two appearances so far this season, getting the win in one of them, and has not given up a run in his two innings of work. This sets up for a perfect game for the Astros to win as they get to give the ball to the star of their staff Brett Myers. Even though Myers doesn’t have a win yet this season, he has pitched very well as he has two quality starts and an ERA of 2.03 over both starts.
Game 3: April 13th, 8:05 PM (ET)
HOU: Wandy Rodriguez vs. CHC: Carlos Zambrano
This is not the dominating Zambrano some Astros’ fans remember but he still does have some good stuff and has pitched pretty well this season. It will be important for the Astros’ offense to get after him early and shake his confidence because that will give Houston their best chance to win because the Astros will be putting the Magic Wandy on the mound for this one. Wandy is still looking for his win in the season even though he had a great outing in the home opener against the Marlins, only giving up one run over seven innings of work.
Prediction: I expect the Astros to get their first series win of the season. They are coming off a win against the Marlins and have Myers and Wandy pitching two out of the three games. The offense is looking better as young players like Brett Wallace and Angel Sanchez are stepping up and Pence and Bourn are doing what Astros’ fans have expected over the years. I don’t know if the optimism is warranted but this is the most confident I have felt about these Astros entering a series. Enjoy the games!