Astros: Previewing the three-game series at Arizona
The Houston Astros will be taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks for three games.
After a hard-fought series win in Anaheim, the Houston Astros are 5-4 and taking a trip to the desert. They’re opening up a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and putting up who, at least at this juncture, appear to be their three best starting pitchers.
That, combined with the D’backs’ struggles, could help the Astros win some games in this series. Arizona is only 3-7 on the season, having lost three of four to each of the Dodgers and Padres while splitting a two-game set with the Rangers. They’ve struggled at both scoring runs and preventing them.
Notably, this series will be the first time that Zack Greinke will face his former team after they traded him to Houston at the 2019 trade deadline. He went 55-29 with a 3.40 ERA for the Snakes in about three and a half seasons, making three All-Star teams, winning four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger.
The Astros, however, do not appear slated to face any of the players they gave up for Greinke. Pitcher Corbin Martin is on the IL after having Tommy John surgery last year, and infielder Josh Rojas was just optioned off the major league roster. Infielder Seth Beer and pitcher J.B. Bukauskas are not on the team’s 40-man roster.
There is one former Astro who they could face, and that’s reliever Hector Rondon. He pitched to a 3.46 ERA over the past two seasons in Houston before signing with Arizona as a free agent in the offseason. The Astros might like to face him considering over his three appearances this season, he’s recorded four outs and allowed four runs.
Both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games will have 8:10 p.m. CT start times, while Thursday’s game will begin at 6:07 p.m. CT and be broadcast nationally on FOX. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games will be shown on ATT SportsNet SW, with Wednesday’s game also shown out-of-market on MLB Network.
Tuesday’s opener will feature veteran Madison Bumgarner pitching against Astros rookie Cristian Javier. Bumgarner is still one of the tougher pitchers in the game and is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in his first two starts this season. He gave up two runs in 5.1 innings against the Rangers last time out. Javier is coming off a brilliant first career start last week, striking out eight Dodgers in 5.2 innings of one-run ball.
The Astros will send Lance McCullers Jr to the hill on Wednesday to face left-hander Robbie Ray. McCullers has a 5.40 ERA over his first two games after giving up four runs in four innings of work in his last start. Ray is 0-2 with an 8.64 ERA in his first two starts, allowing five runs on five hits and six walks in 4.2 innings in his last outing.
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In Thursday’s series finale, Greinke will take on his former team and be opposed by 25-year-old righty Zac Gallen. Greinke took a perfect game into the sixth inning in his last start, so the main thing to watch will be how deep he can go. Gallen has posted a 2.70 ERA in his first two starts, striking out nine Dodgers in six innings of two-run ball last time out.
Players to Watch
Keep an eye on second baseman Ketel Marte, who broke out in a big way in 2019 with a .329/.389/.592 line and 32 home runs. He’s been one of their betters hitters in the earlygoing, which is important considering many of their hitters have struggled. Also watch out for relievers Stefan Crichton and Junior Guerra, both of whom have yet to allow a run this season.
For the Astros, the easy choice here is Jose Altuve. He’s been mired in a season-opening slump, hitting only .158 so far, which of course pleases the haters who think, against all evidence, that he wore a buzzer last year. There’s no better way to shut them up than to start spraying baseballs all over the field.
Even though the Diamondbacks are in last place in their division, this is still a team with plenty of talent. I wouldn’t expect them to finish in the basement, so don’t let that early win-loss record fool you. The Astros will have to play some good baseball if the want to come out of the desert with a series win.
In the end, that’s what the Astros should be expecting. Taking two out of three games in this series would be a satisfying result, especially considering the rash of injuries that have plagued Houston’s pitching staff.