Astros Series Preview: Time to carry the winning streak into Oakland
At 42-25, the Astros head back to Coliseum to take on the Athletics. Specifically the O.Co Coliseum.
As part of their current ten-game road trip, the Astros travel from Arlington to Oakland to play the Athletics. If you’re curious, the team will then fly to Kansas City for a weekend series to finish out the road trip.
Wait, what? Hold on.
- Houston, TX to Arlington, TX.
- Arlington, TX to Oakland, CA.
- Oakland, CA to Kansas City, KS.
- Kansas City, KS to Houston, TX.
Three states over ten days. Roughly 4,517 miles round trip from Houston to Arlington to Oakland to Kansas City then back to Houston. I realize this is long road trip, but I do consider it interesting that the Astros travel all the way out to Oakland from Arlington then head to Kansas City. There isn’t another stop on this brief West Coast trip. You know, like Anaheim or Seattle?
Oh, well. I am probably making too big a deal of the travel arrangement. At least this trip is not as strange as flying from Seattle to Chicago like the Astros did earlier this season back in late April. At least there wasn’t a third city tacked on to the schedule.
Back to baseball.
The Astros are 5-1 against the A’s this season with a+27 run differential with a 7.5 game lead in the AL West. Not bad.
Game 1: RHP Lance McCullers (7-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. RHP Daniel Mengden (6-5, 3.45 ERA)
Game 2: RHP Gerrit Cole (7-1, 2.16 ERA) vs. RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Game 3: RHP Justin Verlander (8-2, 1.45 ERA) vs. RHP Frankie Montas (3-0, 1.25 ERA)
McCullers’ performance has been like a roller coaster as of late. On May 26th, he surrendered seven earned runs to the Indians in Cleveland followed up by solid start against the Red Sox then another so-so start against the Mariners at home.
Cole has been amazing nearly all season long. The former Pirate has yet to surrender more than three earned runs as an Astro. But the home run has been a bit of an issue as of late. Over the previous 31 innings, or five starts, Cole has allowed six home runs and 12 total earned runs. His ERA of this stretch of games has been 3.48.
Verlander, like Cole, has been otherworldly this season. With Cole’s recent struggles with the home run, Verlander has been the Astros’ best starting pitcher this season. Not bad for a guy who appeared to be closing in on the twilight of his career the past few seasons. But Verlander has been rejuvenated by his time in Houston. And the proof is in the results. In 93.1 innings this year, the former Tiger has a 1.95 ERA with a 2.29 FIP over 14 starts. At this rate, Verlander could be the Astros’ second Cy Young winner in four seasons. Of course, there is still plenty of baseball left.
The Astros’ lineup has started to heat up again. Over the last seven days, Jose Altuve (227 wRC+), Alex Bregman (196 wRC+), and George Springer (193 wRC+) have led the charge. Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis, Tony Kemp, and Yuli Gurriel also posted a wRC+ of at least 131 in the last seven days. And Carlos Correa could be making his return following a short absence for a sore right side.
Next: Astros: Three players trending up after the brooms came out in North Texas
Following a rough stretch of games against fellow contenders to finish out May, the Astros’ schedule has eased up. But any team is capable on defeating another team on any given day. But Houston knows this truth. After all, baseball can sometimes be cruel, no matter the opponent.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, and MLB.com**