Astros: Important West Coast swing begins Monday
By Colin Gay
The Astros have had no problem against the American League West.
In 32 games against division opponents this season, the Houston Astros have won 22 games. The closest team to them in the AL West is the Texas Rangers who are 11 games back. Even though they seem to already have a lock on the division in the middle of June, the Astros have not been on a West Coast swing since early April. Being on the road has not been an issue, with the Astros winning 23 of 31 games away from Minute Maid Park. However, these next seven games against the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will be important to determine the staying power of this team.
Astros start with Peacock
The pitcher that will set the tone for the Astros to begin this road trip against the A’s will be the resurgent right-hander Brad Peacock. After starting the season as a lights out long man out of the bullpen, his numbers have come back down to earth when he moved into the starting rotation. In five starts, he has a 4.37 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP with 36 strikeouts in 22.2 innings of work.
The main problem with Peacock, especially as of late, has been his control. In his last two starts, a total of 7.2 innings of work, he has walked eight batters. To put that into perspective, he only gave up six walks in 14 innings of work in the month of May. However, he has kept the ball in the ballpark though, giving up only one home run in his 39 innings this season, a solo shot by Rougned Odor in his June 4th win over Texas.
The A’s have a powerful lineup
The Oakland A’s have an offense that could potentially cause Peacock some trouble. Despite being tied for last in the AL with a .242 team batting average and 10th with a .741 OPS, the A’s have some sneaky pop on their roster. They are fifth in the AL with 98 home runs and have a team slugging percentage of .431. The A’s have three players, designated hitter Ryon Healy, first baseman Yonder Alonso and left fielder Khris Davis, that have over 15 home runs this season.
Even though it is a relatively small sample size, the A’s have been able to hit Peacock well so far in 2017. The A’s have three hits in eight at bats against the 29-year-old right-hander with two doubles. Also, they have walked three times already against him.
Astros have a chance to do damage
However, the Astros do have a chance to give Peacock some run support in the first game of the road trip facing Daniel Gossett. A 24-year-old right-hander, Gossett made his major league debut June 14th against the Miami Marlins. He struggled, giving up six earned runs on six hits, including two home runs, and a walk in only 3.1 innings of work.
Gossett normally throws a fastball in the low nineties combined with a curveball and a change up in the low-eighties. The Marlins were able to generate hard contact 56.3 percent of the time against the young right-hander in his debut. Now, he will have to face an Astros team who is first in the AL with a .279 batting average and a .820 OPS.
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The Astros have a great opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the road trip against the A’s Monday night.
***Stats provided by ESPN.com, MLB.com and FanGraphs***