Maybe a quick trip to Florida will help turn the Astros fortune around?
There are now 100 games left in the Astros 2016 season so there is plenty of time for the team to improve upon its 29-33 record. However, this will require that the Astros avoid another road letdown like the one in Arlington as they head off to Tampa and St. Louis for the next five games.
As it stands entering Friday, the Astros are currently 9.0 games out of first place in the AL West and 5.5 games out of the top spot in the Wild Card. Needless to say, if the Astros truly intend to turn things around soon then taking care of business against the Rays and Cardinals will need to happen.
Tonight’s game against the Rays would be an excellent time for the Astros to restart their ascent up the standings. Before dropping three of four to the Texas Rangers earlier in the week, the Astros can start to make up ground by taking on a Rays squad that is roughly in the same boat. However, the team will be taking on a pitcher named Matt Andriese, who has been impressive in his six starts this season. Andriese, in his age-26 season, has arguably been the Rays best starting pitcher in 2016 with a 1.0 WAR and 2.87 FIP in just 39.1 innings pitched. So we will how the Astros lineup will do against the talented right-hander. Don’t forget that the Astros have face Andriese once before, but only over 1.2 innings of work.
McCullers will be making his sixth start of the season and the second of his career against the Rays. In his previous start against Tampa Bay last season, McCullers went six innings while allowing four runs in the loss. But that was last year, and the young right-hander has shown improvement since his initial start on May 13th in Boston. In his latest start, McCullers gave up only two runs in seven innings against the Oakland Athletics.
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Once again, the Astros lineup holds the key to the series. The pitching has done reasonably well as of late, but it seems to be the lack of offensive fire power has been the Achilles’ heel. And it doesn’t help matters that Carlos Correa is day-to-day with an ankle injury that occurred in the series finale with the Rangers yesterday. So it remains to be seen what will happen in the lineup without one of team’s best hitters.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference & MLB.com**