The Astros will face a tough matchup versus the Indians.
Tonight, the Astros begin a three-game series versus the Cleveland Indians. Normally, this would be just another matchup between two teams trying to get back to the World Series, but words by Trevor Bauer makes this matchup a little more.
In anticipation of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, I was able to speak with Buster Olney earlier today. The Astros will not face Bauer this weekend, but I did ask Olney what he thought of the situation. Olney believes that Bauer calling people out for having a foreign substance on the ball is like reporting a jaywalker to the police. It happens all the time. This is not the first time Bauer has gone after Gerrit Cole indirectly through tweets.
Olney said that most pitchers use some type of foreign substance to get a better grip on the ball. He stated that GMs and managers know that pitchers use a foreign substance. Pitchers sometimes use sunscreen or pine tar. He has talked to many hitters about this. He said they said they would rather them use it to get a better grip on the ball. For Bauer to bring this up makes no sense.
When asked about how he views the Astros from the outside, Olney compared the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox as the Ali, Frazier, and Foreman of baseball. Because of the dominance that they showed last year. Many people think they can be the first team since the Yankees to win back to back championships.
"This weekend’s edition of ESPN’s exclusive Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell features the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros and José Altuve, currently tied for first in the American League West, hosting the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians and Francisco Lindor at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Matt Vasgersian will have the call alongside analysts Alex Rodriguez and Jessica Mendoza with on-field reports from Buster Olney."
World Series hangover?
Olney started discussing the dreaded World Series hangover. Many people thought the Astros would take off offensively and be dominant to start off the season. He described the hangover as players trying to outdo what they did last year. We saw this last year with the Cubs, who were still good but struggled offensively at times.
When asked about the Astros rotation, Olney mentioned that this could be one of the best rotations ever. He mentioned that the Phillies rotation back with Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt and the 90’s Braves rotations were good, but this could be better. Every time Cole pitches, Olney said that he gets text messages from scouts and GM talking about how dominating he is.
We discussed how the Astros and Indians compare as they get ready for first pitch tonight. They are similar in the fact that they have some young, dynamic players and great rotations. The difference is that the Indians are still trying to find themselves. They went to the 2016 World Series behind a strong bullpen, but they have struggled this year. Olney stated that the Indians bullpen is 30th overall in ERA and the Astros are first. Once the Indians fix the bullpen, we will see more wins.
The Astros will hold a moment of silence at tonight’s game and fly the flag at half-staff in support of the events that happened in Santa Fe today. To all those affected, the community grieves with you. As a teacher, this is too close to home for me and many others. UTMB has asked for blood donors in response to today’s tragedy if you want to help out in some way.
The pitching matchups.
With the pitching that both sides will trot out this weekend, it’s safe to say there may not be much offense. The Astros have three pitchers in the top five ERAs in the AL, but only one of them will pitch versus the Indians. Justin Verlander and Cole will not pitch in the series.
Sunday’s Matchup on ESPN
The key to the series.
The Astros are 7-3 during the last ten games, while the Indians are 4-6. The Astros sit in first place in the AL West with a 28-17 record while the Indians lead the AL Central with a 21-21 record. Unfortunately, the AL West is more competitive with four teams at .500 or higher. With a weak AL Central, the Indians are the favorite to win.
The key for the Astros will be to do what they do best, limit the opposing offense. It wouldn’t hurt the score some runs. They sit ninth with runs scored at home with 85 runs, with only a .661 OPS. The Indians have scored 128 runs at home this year, but only 79 runs at home. The Astros have scored 125 runs on the road. If both offenses follow the trend this weekend, it will be low scoring. The Indians must get better results from the relievers.
Want more about Olney said? I will follow up with a few more posts this weekend. Tonight I will see you at the game. It’s Star Wars night.
***Stats from MLB.com and ESPN team stats***