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Houston Astros: Silver Boot Preview

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Sep 26, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) runs past Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) after hitting a home run in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park. Astros won 9 to 7. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) runs past Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) after hitting a home run in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park. Astros won 9 to 7. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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GAME 2 – Doug Fister (1-1, 7.59) vs Cole Hamels (2-0, 2.95)

Apr 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

This will be an important start for Fister. With Lance McCullers set to come back very soon from the DL, Fister and Feldman seem to be competing for the final rotation spot. As it stands, Feldman has the upper hand, and Fister could be relegated to a long-relief role.  Historically, Fister is 4-4 in 10 starts against Texas, and has an absurd 11.85 ERA in Arlington, giving up five home runs in 13.2 innings.

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Fister, like Feldman, will need to focus on getting more ground balls. Over the past two seasons, Fister has seen steep declines in both ground ball percentage and velocity. He can get away with a decrease in one of those categories, but not both. This could be a quick outing if Fister cannot keep the ball down against the potent Texas lineup.

The Rangers ace, Cole Hamels, will look to go 3-0 on the season in the middle game of the series. He has pitched well enough for the Rangers to win in all three of his early season starts, although his last start, versus Baltimore, wasn’t pretty. Against the Orioles, Hamels only went 5.1 innings and gave up seven hits and two walks. In 10 career starts in Arlington, Hamels is yet to record a loss, going 6-0.

He has been effective against the Houston lineup, but not untouchable. Evan Gattis has two home runs against him, and Altuve and Colby Rasmus have also fared well.  Look for Hamels to try to use his nasty change-up to keep the Astros off-balance, and produce some ground ball outs.

Prediction: Rangers 7 – Astros 4

Next: Game 3 Prediction

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