Astros Series Preview: The Long Trek to Seattle
It is too early to call this early week road series in Seattle a crucial one for the Astros.
Did you know the distance between Minute Maid Park and Safeco Field is roughly 2,335 miles? The Astros have a heck of a trip in front of them. At least they didn’t have to drive 35 hours like Google Maps is showing me today.
Anyway, the Astros are traveling to Seattle to play the Mariners. No surprise there as both teams are division members of the AL West. Only a half game separates the two in the standings entering Monday. The season is still young, though, so I would not start worrying about the standings quite yet.
The biggest storyline heading into the series will be the Astros€™ sudden lack of offense. In fact, the Astros are stuck in the middle of the pack when it comes to lineup productivity. Or, unproductivity, if I may.
611 plate appearances
.240 batting average
.323 on-base percentage
.371 slugging percentage
10.1% walk rate
24.2% strikeout rate
That said, the Astros have not received the quality of production one would expect from this lineup. It is telling when the top two hitters in terms of wRC+ are Josh Reddick (188 wRC+) and Max Stassi (170 wRC+). Jose Altuve (131 wRC+) has been quite good, yet the 2017 AL MVP does not have a home run in 2018. Carlos Correa has been fairly decent. George Springer, though, only hits home runs off of Cole Hamels. Alex Bregman and Marwin Gonzalez have been below average at the plate thus far. And don’t get me started on Derek Fisher and Jake Marisnick.
So, yeah, it would be nice if the Astrosâ€™ offense decides to show up in Seattle. While it hasn’t been like the Rays-level of putrid, the talent in the lineup should be in the top-five. Alas, the season is still young, so it would not be wise to jump to wild accusations. However, regression is slippery slope and the Astros may have been do a bit following a historic 2017 season.
Without further adieu, here are the starting pitcher matchups this week in Seattle.
Game #1: LHP Dallas Keuchel (0-2, 4.20 ERA) vs. LHP James Paxton (0-1, 5.74 ERA)
Game #2: RHP Lance McCullers (1-1, 7.71 ERA) vs. LHP Ariel Miranda (2017: 8-7, 5.12 ERA)
Game #3: RHP Gerrit Cole (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Leake (2-0, 3.50 ERA)
Game #4: RHP Charlie Morton (2-0, 1.00 ERA) vs. LHP Marco Gonzales (1-1, 8.25 ERA)
Looking ahead, the Astros have to feel confident about their chances this week. Seattle has a solid, yet top heavy roster. But the Mariners have received quality production from Mike Leake. And James Paxton, much like Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers for the Astros, could be one start away from righting the ship this season. Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton have been lifesavers for the Astros, despite both receiving no-decisions in their valiant efforts over the weekend against the Rangers.
Next: Astros could face Shohei Ohtani at home on April 24th
Unfortunately, the AL Player of the Week, Justin Verlander will not be starting a game on this trip to Seattle.
**Statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs and MLB.com**