Astros Series Preview: The Hope of Heating Up in the Desert

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 29: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros reacts in the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on April 29, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 29: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros reacts in the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on April 29, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Astros face the Diamondbacks this weekend in Phoenix. Let’s take a look at what’s to come in the three-game interleague set.

Did you know that the Astros are facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, is the series of the two literally hottest major league baseball cities?

Thank god the Diamondbacks play indoors because the average high in the Phoenix summer is roughly around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Jeez. In Houston comparatively, we’re kind of lucky. The city of the champions average summer high is around a mere 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Though Houston does have humidity levels that are over forty percent higher than Phoenix, it’s still not so simple to fry an egg while in line at Minute Maid Park. By Chase Field, it is almost a guarantee that you will get a tan while in the ticket line.

Now let’s talk baseball:

Earlier in the week against the Yankees, the Astros offense struggled. The Astros did score five runs on Thursday. However, they went over twenty-four inning without scoring a run. This weekend, the Astros have to face the Diamondbacks and will try to slow down a team which almost no-one has beaten more than once. They have yet to lose a series this season and have not lost any games back to back. Pretty tough team to face in the first weekend of May.

In April, Diamondback’s manager Torey Lovullo has had to wiggle through some tough injuries on his squad. On April 14, they lost starting pitcher Taijuan Walker with an elbow injury, resulting in needing Tommy John surgery. They have also lost several other key players for extended periods. All-star Jake Lamb, Steven Sauza Jr., and most recently All-star ace Robbie Ray, have all missed significant playing time. Somehow, Arizona has still managed their way into first place in a tough National League division.

Former National League MVP runner-up, Paul Goldschmidt, has led the team offensively while Arizona’s bullpen has been able to hide their lack of pitching depth while leading in ERA.

It is a series of two solid teams, each trying to pave their way into October.

The Astros lead the league in starting pitching era, while the Diamondbacks lead in bullpen era. Despite the Astros offensive struggles, it’s just a matter of time before the young dynasty in the making, consistently torches opposing pitching. However, even though Arizona does have some offensive studs, they could still use another solid bat in the lineup to be in serious playoff contention.

Let’s look at the starting pitchers for both teams.

Game 1:

RHP Gerrit Cole (2-1, 1.73 ERA) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (Note: First start since May 10, 2016)

Game 2:

RHP Charlie Morton (4-0, 1.72 ERA) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (3-2, 4.50 ERA)

Game 3:

RHP Justin Verlander (4-0, 1.13 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Koch (1-0, 2.37 ERA)

The Astros have their three hottest pitchers on the mound over the weekend.

Cole, Morton, and Verlander all went at least seven innings, allowing no runs in their earlier appearances. In their career, they have surrendered nine runs total, against the Diamondbacks. The Astros have only scored two runs against Arizona’s rotation.

While the Astros offense has struggled, they were able to fish out five runs late in the fourth game of the Yankees series. The bullpen has been terrible in the past ten games, giving up fifteen runs in just under twenty-two innings. On the positive note, we can not ask for more from the Astros starting pitching, which has led the league so far in many categories.

Next: Astros Observations: The General Lack of Offense

So far this season the Astros are 9-5 when this author wrote the series previews. Hopefully, the Astros can add to the tally this weekend, and consistently produce on both sides of the ball. I hope next weeks series preview, only consists of praise for Astros, when they face the Rangers next weekend in Houston.

**Statistics and information courtesy of**