The Astros Take Their Act to Motown



After feeling good about a series win against the Los Angeles Angels, the Astros had the rug pulled out from under them versus the Texas Rangers. The Astros had no problem scoring runs against the Rangers pitching staff (averaging over five runs a game), but the Astros’ pitching staff decided to take the weekend off. Dallas Keuchel (6 inn. and 2 ER) and Erik Bedard (5 inn. and 2 ER) each gave the Astros solid outings in the first two games of the series, but the bullpen managed to come in and allow the Rangers offense to bowl over them. Jordan Lyles started Game 3 of the series and could not stop the Rangers from scoring, allowing eight runs in four innings. Now the Astros get the privilege of facing the same team that swept them in four games at Minute Maid Park earlier this month. The good news? No Justin Verlander this go-around.

Since their sweep over the Astros, the Tigers have gone 1-5 versus the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians and managed to squander their AL Central lead. Despite their recent struggles, the Tigers lead all of baseball in team Average (.285) and OBP (.351) and are second in Slugging Percentage (.441). Meanwhile, their pitching staff has managed baseball’s highest K/9 with 9.92 while surrendering the fewest HR/9 and are hanging onto the lowest FIP (2.60). So far the Tigers have shown very little weakness, and I still hate Bud Selig for making the Astros switch leagues.

Game 1: Monday, May 13th at 6:08 CT
Bud Norris (4-3, 3.40 ERA) vs Anibal Sanchez (3-3, 1.97 ERA)

Bud Norris is coming off of one of the best starts of his career. Against the Angels on May 8th, Bud threw eight innings and allowed just one run. While he only managed to strikeout two hitters, he was incredibly efficient during that start and threw just 84 pitches. The start before that was when he faced off against the Tigers and threw seven innings, striking out seven and allowing just two runs. As all Astros’ fans know, Bud’s home/road splits have been extremely dramatic. So far this season that holds true as Norris is just 1-2 with a 5.93 ERA in three road starts.

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Anibal Sanchez is off to a very strong start to the 2013 campaign. So far this month, Sanchez is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings against the Nationals and Minnesota Twins. Sanchez can thank his good fastball/changeup combination for his hot start. He also mixes in an average sinker, cutter, slider and curveball. There are a few Astros’ hitters with some success against Sanchez, including: Jose Altuve (.286 in 7 ABs), Ronny Cedeno (1-3 with a HR) and Carlos Pena (.300 in 10 ABs with 1 HR).

Game 2: Tuesday, May 14th at 6:08 CT
Lucas Harrell (3-3, 4.67 ERA) vs Doug Fister (4-1, 3.14 ERA)

In Lucas Harrell’s last start, he worked himself in and out of trouble for five innings against the Angels. He ended up walking six hitters in just five innings, but came out of it allowing only one earned run. Harrell faced the Tigers on May 4th, in a game that he probably wishes he could forget. In just 4.1 innings, he allowed ten hits and eight runs. That was the second time that he had allowed eight runs in 4.1 innings this season. The Astros are hoping that Harrell can correct his control issues soon as he is allowing 1.66 more BB/9 innings than he did last season.

Doug Fister is coming into this series off of his worst start of the season. In Thursday’s game against the Nationals, Fister was only able to go three innings and allowed eight hits and four runs. He faced the Astros on May 3rd and received a No-Decision after going six innings and allowing nine hits and two earned runs. Chris Carter is 2-5 in his career against Fister with a homer and two RBI.

Game 3: Wednesday, May 15th at 12:08 CT
Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.43 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (5-0, 3.61 ERA)

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Dallas Keuchel will be making his second start of the season on Wednesday. Friday he faced the potent Rangers lineup, and was able to contain them for a majority of the game (other than the Nelson Cruz missile). Keuchel went six innings and allowed just two runs while striking out three. The soft-throwing lefty faced the Tigers’ offense in relief on May 2nd and gave up seven hits and four runs in 4.1 innings. If Keuchel can give the Astros another quality start against the Tigers, you have to think his confidence would be at an all-time high.

Max Scherzer continues to dominate opposing lineups. So far this year he is recording over 11.5 K/9 innings and has put up an incredibly low 1.88 FIP. In his last start against the Astros, Scherzer threw eight innings and allowed three hits and one run while striking out eight. I would call that a successful day for the Astros. On the bright side of things, Scherzer has not been near as good at home as he has been on the road. This season at Comerica Park, Scherzer is 4-0 but has a 5.68 ERA in four starts. Maybe the Astros will manage two or three runs on this day!

Worth Noting:

  • According to the Astros Pythagorean W-L, they should have two more wins than they currently have this season (12-25).
  • In the last series between these two teams, the Tigers managed to outscore the Astros 37-8.
  • Over the past week, Chris Carter has hit three homeruns and put up a .375 average and a 1.438 OPS