Astros: Previewing three-game series against Rangers
Here’s what you need to know about the Houston Astros series against the Texas Rangers.
After enjoying a rest in five out of the last six days, the Houston Astros are set to open a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park today. There was some initial concern about whether tonight’s game would happen due to the team awaiting its results from Sunday’s COVID-19 tests, but that appears to have been settled and the game will go on as planned.
The Rangers are 12-21 on the season and don’t look to improve much after having traded away a few veterans. They’re only 2-8 in their last 10 games and have the worst run differential in the game at minus-58. In short, this isn’t a good team.
The Astros are 19-14 with a plus-23 run differential. They’re also 14-5 at home this season, while the Rangers are just 3-11 on the road. One would think this has all the makings of a series in which Houston will be licking its chops, but of course things don’t always work out that way when the games are played.
As things currently stand, tonight’s game is set to begin at 7:10 p.m. CT, with Wednesday’s game coming at the same time. Thursday’s finale is set for 1:10. All three games are broadcast locally on ATT SportsNet SW, while Tuesday’s and Thursday’s game are shown out of market on MLB Network.
Framber Valdez is set to take the mound tonight for the Astros, with Luis Garcia opposing him as an opener. Valdez has a 2.35 ERA this season and struck out 11 batters in his last start on Aug. 24. Garcia is in his eighth season in the majors but is making just his third start, and his first of the season. He’s allowed five runs (three earned) in five innings of work this season.
The Rangers are sending Kolby Allard to the hill on Wednesday. The 23-year-old lefthander is 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA in five starts this season. The Astros are countering with Cristian Javier, who’s 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA on the season. He gave up three runs in 5.2 innings in his last start.
Lance Lynn will take the ball for the Rangers on Thursday, and he’s in the midst of a great season with a 1.93 ERA in eight starts. The Astros have not named a starter here yet, but it would be Lance McCullers Jr’s turn in the rotation, although Zack Greinke could also start here on normal rest.
Players to Watch
The Rangers offense is bad, but keep an eye on first baseman Ronald Guzman. A door has been opened for him after the trade of Todd Frazier, and he’s notched five hits in four games this season and was just recently recalled. Most everyone else in their lineup is struggling or hurt, so they’ll be hoping Guzman can make a difference.
For the Astros, of course keep an eye on Kyle Tucker. This guy is arguably the hottest hitter in the game right now and has really picked up the slack in the absence of Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. Can the Rangers’ lackluster pitching slow him down? I wouldn’t bet on it.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to hope for a sweep here given the Rangers struggles. At least a series win should be expected, as you never know how things will break. This is also a rivalry, if not as passionate a rivalry as in years past due to the Rangers’ lack of competitiveness.
But the bottom line is the Rangers are just a bad team, and the Astros, despite their injuries and the inexperience on the pitching staff, should be able to handle them. This is the first meeting between the in-state rivals this season, so we’ll see how things go.