Following their off-day on Thursday, the Astros welcome the Rangers into the Minute Maid Park for a three-game series this weekend.
The Astros are 9-4. Yes, the team recently dropped two out of three games to the Twins in Minneapolis earlier this week. But a 9-4 start remains a good one.
Regardless of the results earlier in the week, the Astros return home to warmer weather. Hopefully, the weather inspires the Astros against the in-state rivals.
Game #1: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (1-2, 5.06 ERA)
Early on this season, Cole has arguably been the Astros’ best starting pitcher. The former Pirate has back-to-back eleven strikeout games in his first two starts with Houston. What a debut, right?!
The first of those eleven strikeout games came against the Rangers in the Opening Series finale in Arlington. The Astros came out victorious in that particular meeting.
This series will be Houston’s second time in facing Hamels this season. He was the Opening Day starter for the Rangers opposite of Justin Verlander for the Astros. In 5.2 innings, the Texas left-hander surrendered three runs on five hits and four walks.
Game #2: RHP Charlie Morton (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Mike Minor (1-1, 2.53 ERA)
Like Cole, Morton has a claim as the Astros’ best starting pitcher thus far. While Morton hasn’t posted the gaudy strikeout numbers like Cole, the Game 7 hero has yet to allow an earned run in 12 innings. He has yet to face the Rangers this season, but Morton did post a 3.09 ERA In 11.2 innings against Texas last year. Let’s hope the success continues.
Minor gets another crack at the Astros as, like Hamels, this will be his second start of the season against Houston. In his first start against the Astros, the left-hander threw 4.2 innings of two-run ball while allowing three hits and two walks. The question with Minor is how will hold up over multiple innings, yet he did pitch six innings in his second start against the Blue Jays.
Game #3: RHP Justin Verlander (2-0, 1.45 ERA) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (0-0, 1.64 ERA)
There have been 928 games and 5,890 innings thrown between the two veteran pitchers. Of course, Colon got his first break in the majors during the 1997 season while Verlander didn’t burst on to the scene until the 2005 season.
That is old news, though.
Verlander will be looking for his third win of the season while Colon makes his second start for the Rangers. In all, this start will be Colon’s 14th against the Astros. Out of those previous 13 meetings, Colon owns an 8-4 record with a 4.09 ERA. He is one of the few major league players who played against the Astros in the Astrodome. Rangers’ teammate Adrian Beltre is the only other player that immediately comes to mind in this regard.
Thanks to the upstart Angels, the Astros will need a series win to keep pace on Los Angeles. Of course, it is still way too early to be overly concerned. And baseball will be baseball. But another series win would be an acceptable goal this weekend.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and MLB.com**