Astros Series Preview: Time to head to the land of Angels
By Cody Poage
The Astros have played well in their past two series against the A’s and Rangers. Will the winning ways continue in Anaheim?
Are the Astros ready for Round 2 against Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and the Angels? Well, they should be. The Angels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon if their level of play continues.
The Astros have been on a bit of a roll themselves as of late. After all, the team did just win five of their past six games. Sure, those wins came courtesy of the A’s and Rangers, but winning baseball games isn’t always an easy matter. But the Astros will need to continue this hot streak if they want to pad their one-game lead over the Angels in the AL West.
Game 1: RHP Lance McCullers (5-1, 3.72 ERA) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.78 ERA)
Game 2: RHP Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.43 ERA) vs. RHP Jaime Barria (3-1, 2.45 ERA)
Game 3: RHP Justin Verlander (4-2, 1.21 ERA) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (4-1, 4.08 ERA)
So, no Ohtani as a starting pitcher this time around. Of course, this absence means the Astros will likely see Ohtani as a hitter. Oh, he is pretty good at that aspect of the game. Unless something unexpected occurs, this series will be Ohtani’s first chance at facing the Astros’ pitching staff. In case you haven’t heard, the Astros’ pitching is also pretty good.
Like the first series against the Angels not too long ago, it is difficult to place too much importance on an early season series. Sure, the Angels and Astros have traded spots atop of the AL West a few times. But if the teams do not start to create separation as we head into the summer, well, these series will start becoming more important.
The key to this series will likely come down to the Astros’ lineup.
The pitching staff has continued to perform quite admirably. But the lineup has to back up its staff. To their credit, the lineup has shown more life lately with a 140 wRC+ in the last seven days. It would be nice to see Verlander pick up a win following his latest string of strong starts. In fact, Verlander in his previous three starts has allowed only two earned runs — three total runs — over 22 innings. Alas, two of those starts resulted in losses as the Astros’ offense scored a combined one run. Um, yeah, not good.
Next: Astros play first games in 2018 without George Springer
Looking back, the Astros appear to be picking up steam. This is good development for a team that has appeared inconsistent at times. Let’s hope this series serves as more fuel towards their ascent towards AL West supremacy.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs**