After a much deserved day off on Monday, the Astros return to Minute Maid Park for a three game series with the Kansas City Royals. It’s a matchup of two teams that are off to slow starts — mostly due to an inability to put runs on the board.
The Astros were shutout twice in Arlington over the weekend but managed to win the middle game of the 3-game series in extra innings. The Royals, coming off three straight losses in Minnesota at the hands of the Twins, are the only team in the league with fewer runs scored than the Astros. In a battle of anemic offensive attacks, something has to give.
Kansas City Royals (4-7) vs. Houston Astros (5-8)
Game 1 Tues. 4/15 @ 7:10 CDT
Yordano Ventura (Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
On paper, this one looks like a mismatch. Neither team has been able to score runs — and with Ventura on the mound that trend is likely to continue for the ‘Stros. This Houston team has a history of struggling against pitchers they are facing for the first time.
Harrell has struggled to keep the ball down and, at this point, could be pitching for his big league life. If Lucas doesn’t get his mojo back soon, he could be on his way out of town. A scuffling Royals offense could be just what the doctor ordered for Harrell. This could prove to be another low scoring affair.
Game 2 Wed. 4/16 @ 7:10 CDT
Alex Gordon (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
Guthrie won a career high 15 games for the Royals last season and is off to another good start. The 11-year veteran is 6-0 in his last eight starts during the month of April dating back to 2012. Guthrie is 2-1 with an ERA of 5.00 in four career starts against the Astros.
Keuchel is coming off a strong 7-inning performance against Toronto. But the lefty has struggled to find consistency from start to start during his career as an Astro. Coming into the series, Alex Gordon has the Royals’ only homerun of the season. If Keuchel can keep the ball in the park the home team could have a fighting chance in this one.
Game 3 Thurs. 4/17 @ 7:10 CDT
K.C. – Bruce Chen (0-1, 6.30 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) vs. TBD (Houston has not yet named a starter for this game)
Bruce Chen (Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)
The Royals close out the series with another veteran on the mound. Lefty Bruce Chen, a 16-year vet, is a 4-pitch pitcher whose fastball tops out in the mid-80’s. This is the type of pitcher that the Astros could have some success against if they are patient.
Houston has yet to announce a starter for the finale. It is Scott Feldman‘s turn in the rotation but the Astros ace is on the bereavement list mourning the recent passing of his father. If Feldman isn’t activated by game time the Astros could go with Jarred Cosart, who would be pitching on regular rest since Monday was an off day. The club could also decide to go another direction. Jerome Williams and Brad Peacock could factor into the equation.
The Royals were a popular pick this preseason to be a surprise team that could contend for a post-season berth. So far, they have been a disappointment. The team that gets the offense on track will be the one that wins this series.