The Houston Astros Face a Challenge Against L.A. Dodgers’ Aces
By Eric Huysman
I will come out and say it, the Saturday and Sunday games could be ugly for the Houston Astros. The Astros are already struggling to score runs, especially last night when Chris Archer pitched a complete game shutout versus the Astros lineup. Most people would complain about losing games like this, but others will say, “look who pitched against them, he’s an ace.” Yes, Archer is now considered an ace after his slow start to his career, but the Astros offense has been limited by other non-aces as well.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are coming into Minute Maid Park with their patchwork rotation following the trade deadline. However, we will face their top two pitchers in that rotation this weekend, and one of them won the CY Young and MVP in 2014.
Let’s look at the pitching matchups for the series.
Brett Anderson (7-7, 3.48 ERA) versus Mike Fiers (5-9, 3.87).
Zack Greinke (13-2, 1.58 ERA) versus Scott Kazmir (6-8, 2.43 ERA).
Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.34 ERA) versus Lance McCullers Jr. (5-4, 3.17 ERA).
The highest ERA is Fiers, who had to come in relief in his first game as an Astros player. Otherwise, he would have had better ERA on the season. This series should be a well-pitched series, but will the Astros be able to score on Greinke and Kershaw? No, matter what the answer is to that question, the Astros need to win tonight.
For the season, the Astros have struggled a little more against the lefties than the righties.
Astros versus lefties .230/ 32 HR/ 382 strikeouts.
Astros versus righties: .247/ 67/ 551 strikeouts.
Both Anderson and Kershaw are left-handed pitchers while Greinke is one of the most dominating right-handed pitchers in the game. This series could show national and local media, as well as Astros fans, that the Astros can beat the top notched pitchers in the playoffs.
While I am not predicting that the Astros will win the series versus the Dodgers, the Astros can not get swept at this point of the season. The Astros pitching staff has the best ERA as a team in the American League with a 3.41 ERA; they rank fourth overall in the Major Leagues in ERA. The Dodgers have a slightly higher ERA than they Astros, with a 3.54 ERA as a team.
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The Astros pitchers should match up well versus the Dodgers lineup, and the Astros crowd should give the Astros the 10th man support needed to win this series. A series win would mean wonders for this young team because they would have shown that the can get to the other team’s best pitcher.
All of the sudden the Astros have a feel like the 2005 Astros team did, they were built around their pitching with a weak offense. No, the Astros have not had a weak offense all year, but they have been in a funk recently. If the Astros pitching and defense keep them in the games this series, hopefully, the offense will step up and provide some offense.
Next: Houston Astros 25-man roster prediction for August 31st