Astros: Previewing the first road series against Angels

Here’s what to look for in the Houston Astros series against the Los Angeles Angels.

After a much-needed day off following a difficult series against the Dodgers, the Houston Astros are hitting the road to face that other team from Los Angeles. In their first road series of the year, they’ll play three games against the Angels starting tonight.

After getting swept by the Dodgers, the Astros are 3-3 on the young season. Their offense struggled to score runs in the previous series, going 4-for-24 with runners in scoring position over the course of those two games. George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are particularly slumping at the plate.

The pitching, on the other hand, was largely better than expected despite the presence of several rookies. There were still some rough spots, which comes with the territory at this point, so we’ll see how things go moving forward.

The Angels are just 2-5 on the season, having lost three of four to the A’s to open the year and then losing two of three to the Mariners, ending with last night’s 8-5 loss. Their pitching hasn’t done particularly well in the early going, so this could be a high-scoring series.

The first game will take place tonight at 8:10 p.m. CT. Saturday’s matchup will start at 6:07 p.m. CT, while Sunday’s finale will begin at 3:10 p.m. CT. Friday and Sunday’s games will air on ATT SportsNet SW, while Saturday’s game will be broadcast nationally on Fox.

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Pitching Matchups

The Astros will send Lance McCullers to the mound tonight against Matt Andriese. McCullers had a strong first outing, allowing two runs in six innings of work. Andriese is making his first start of the season after throwing 5.2 scoreless innings in relief of Shohei Ohtani on July 26. It’s also his first start since 2018, as he spent all of 2019 pitching in relief for the Diamondbacks.

The remaining matchups haven’t been announced, but if the Astros keep their rotation in order, it’ll be Zack Greinke pitching on Saturday and Josh James on Sunday. Greinke briefly pitched for the Angels back in 2012, making 13 starts following a trade deadline deal. Both he and James struggled in their first starts this season, so they’ll be looking to turn things around.

For the Angels, we know we won’t see Dylan Bundy and Andrew Heaney, who started the last two games. They’ve been utilizing a six-man rotation with the intent of keeping Ohtani’s starts limited to Sundays, so it’s entirely possible we’ll see Ohtani pitch in the series finale. Notably, he did not record an out in his first start this season after not pitching at all in 2019 due to Tommy John surgery.

24-year-old right-hander Griffin Canning appears the most likely pitcher to start on Saturday for the Angels. He last pitched on July 27 when he allowed three runs in 4.2 innings to take the loss. He put up a 4.58 ERA in 17 starts and one relief appearance in his rookie year of 2019.

Players to Watch

Aside from Mike Trout, the easy one is Ohtani. His presumed performance on the mound will certainly be worth watching, as will his bat. He’s hitting only .174 on the season with no walks and seven strikeouts, but he does have two home runs. Also keep an eye on 2019 World Series nemesis Anthony Rendon, who has just one hit (a home run) this season after missing the first four games due to an oblique injury.

For the Astros, keep an eye on the aforementioned trio of Springer, Altuve and Bregman to see if they come out of their slumps. Greinke and James will also be worth noting to see if they can rebound from poor season debuts.

Astros Expectations

The Angels pitching staff has been knocked around a bit this season, so the Astros offense should hopefully break out of its Dodger-induced funk. What we’ll get from our pitching staff is still a little uncertain, and the Angels do have several big hitters in their lineup. This could be a high-scoring series.

The Astros should, of course, be looking to win this series, so taking two of three would be a satisfying result. In their first road trip of this crazy season, we’ll just have to see how things go.