Astros News

Astros: Previewing the four-game series against the Angels

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 19: Starting pitcher Framber Valdez #59 of the Houston Astros delivers to home plate during the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 19, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. The Astros defeated the Rockies for the third straight game, winning 13-6. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 19: Starting pitcher Framber Valdez #59 of the Houston Astros delivers to home plate during the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 19, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. The Astros defeated the Rockies for the third straight game, winning 13-6. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros are set to take on the Los Angeles Angels for four games.

The Houston Astros are returning home to lick their wounds following a sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres. Hopefully the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park and a four-game set against the last-place Los Angeles Angels will help them get back on track.

Despite the sweep, the Astros are 15-13 on the season, 4.5 games behind Oakland for first place and 4.5 games ahead of the Rangers for second place. The Angels, meanwhile, are just 9-20 on the season. Houston is 7-3 in its last 10 games, while the Halos are just 2-8. Houston is 2-1 against the Angels so far this season, having played them in Los Angeles from July 31 to Aug. 2.

The Astros have a plus-15 run differential on the season, while the Angels are at minus-31. The primary culprit for Los Angeles has been the pitching, which has allowed 162 runs this season, which is tied for the second-most in the American League. Only the Red Sox have allowed more runs.

Schedule Changes

There’s been a last-minute change in the schedule due to the impending arrival of Tropical Storm Laura. Tonight’s opener will begin at 8:10 p.m. CT as expected, but Thursday’s game has been moved to Tuesday as part of a doubleheader. The first game will start at 3:10 p.m., with the second starting immediately thereafter. Both games will be seven innings.

Wednesday’s game, which will now be the finale, has been moved up to a 12:10 p.m. start time after originally being scheduled to start at 8:10. The Astros will then have Thursday off and are scheduled to host the A’s beginning Friday, though the schedule could be changed further if needed.

Pitching Matchups

Tonight’s opener will see a pair of lefthanders as Framber Valdez takes the mound against Patrick Sandoval. Valdez owns a 1.72 ERA on the season after allowing just one earned run in 7.2 innings in his last start. Sandoval is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts after allowing five runs in four innings against the Giants last Wednesday.

Cristian Javier will get the ball in the first game on Tuesday and square off against 22-year-old lefty Jose Suarez. Overall, Javier has a 3.55 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance, though two of his past three outings have been clunkers. Suarez is making just his second start of the year and was tagged for five runs in 1.1 innings his first time out.

Starters have not been announced for the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it appears the Astros will make it a bullpen game. They can call up an extra player for the doubleheader, so they’ll be adding Humberto Castellanos. They also have Chase De Jong on hand, who’s worked as a starter previously and could likely go multiple innings.

The Astros will send Lance McCullers Jr. to the hill on Wednesday to oppose lefty Andrew Heaney. McCullers has a 5.74 ERA in six starts after giving up four runs in five innings against the Padres. Heaney is 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA in six starts after surrendering five runs in 4.2 innings against Oakland in his last start.

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Players to Watch

For the Angels, I’m going with Anthony Rendon. Mike Trout may lead the team in home runs, but Rendon leads in OPS thanks to a better batting average and a far superior on-base percentage. He’s walked more than he’s struck out this year and is second on the team in homers and RBIs.

For the Astros, keep an eye on George Springer. He really struggled against the Padres as his batting average has dropped back down to .200 for the year. If he can get going, this offense can still be dangerous, but it’ll be much more difficult for them if he continues to struggle.

Astros Expectations

Houston needs to bounce back in a big way, and this is a good team to do it against. In a normal scenario, expecting to win three of four would be reasonable, as the Angels only have a few players who are hitting well and their best starting pitcher (Dylan Bundy) won’t be pitching in this series.

But of course this isn’t going to be a typical series thanks to the impending tropical storm. The Astros bullpen is still a work in progress, though the Angels may well have the same problem. There’s no way to tell if a seven-inning doubleheader will help or hurt the team more, so there are plenty of unknowns here.

Plus it’s a little difficult to get a handle on how this Astros team will be doing after getting swept. They looked great during their eight-game winning streak, but that all came crashing down in San Diego. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond to that and to the weather-induced adversity that’s coming their way.

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