Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve come to notice that the Houston Astros are on a bit of a winning streak, winners of ten in a row and five straight series. On Monday the team will welcome in the Texas Rangers for a three game set, with Dallas Keuchel taking the ball for Houston in the opener. The ‘Stros have yet to lose a game in which the bearded one has started, and he will be opposed by Ross Detwiler, who many in Texas are begging for to be removed from the rotation with his 0-3 record and 8.66 ERA.
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Game one doesn’t seem to be the issue in this series, yet it’ll be games two and three with Scott Feldman (2-2, 4.31) and fill-in Sam Deduno (0-0, 2.70) that will be put into question. The opposition on Tuesday with Feldman on the bump will be former Astro Wandy Rodriguez, who is 0-1 with a 4.82 mark in two starts. In his first start of the season against the Halos, he went five innings, giving up just one run on five hits and three walks, while his second start saw the lefty last just 4 1/3 innings of four-run ball against Seattle.
Regardless of how Wandy is pitching, the Ranger bullpen will be put in the game relatively early according to those inning totals, so let’s compare the two relief corps. Houston ranks fifth in baseball with a cumulative 2.21 bullpen ERA, while Texas is ranked 24th at 4.38. During this streak, Houston has done a number on opposing team’s bullpens, with Seattle (15th), Oakland (28th) and San Diego (29th) among the worst in the league. With Texas’ ‘pen acting more like kerosene this season, Tuesday looks to be another winnable game, especially against a team that ranks 25th in runs scored with 88.
The third game of the series will see Rangers righty Colby Lewis (1-2, 3.00) taking on Deduno. Lewis has already made one start against the Astros this season, on April 12th, where he went 7 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits while striking out five. Lewis has been dominant over the Oakland Athletics this season, which has lowered his ERA dramatically, but in games not against Oakland, he has totaled 18 innings and 9 runs allowed, for an ERA of 4.50. Now that seems like another winnable game, no?
For a little insurance, let’s look at how some of the Houston Astros hitters have fared against these two. Jose Altuve is 5-for-14 against Lewis (.357), and while Jason Castro is hitless in eleven at-bats, Hank Conger is 5-for-17 (.294). Home runs have been hit by Jake Marisnick (.667), Colby Rasmus (.444) and Luis Valbuena (.200), so the team has had some success in their careers off of the 35-year old.
Experience against Wandy Rodriguez has been limited, but as you may have guessed, Altuve has had success against him, too. Our second baseman is 3-for-7 against the southpaw (.429) while Valbuena is 1-for-3, accounting for the only career hits off of Rodriguez. Rasmus is 0-for-12 lifetime, so this could be a game that Robbie Grossman gets a look in left.
All in all, it feels like nothing can stop the Houston Astros right now; certainly not the team with the 29th best record in baseball (8-16). Yet, baseball is a funny sport where you play the percentages, and sometimes those percentages are wrong. Funny things happen, like on Saturday when a game ended with a baserunner being hit with a batted ball–twice–and both with games involving teams residing in the NL West. That was a new game ending for me, and it happened twice in one day. But that’s baseball for ya.
While I think that the Astros will sweep the Rangers to start the week and improve to a franchise record 13th consecutive victory, if it doesn’t happen I wouldn’t be surprised either. What about you Astros fans? Will the Rangers take a game this week? How long will the streak live on?