Bud Norris will be making the Saturday start for the Astros. Lucas Harrell has been pushed to Sunday and Erik Bedard will pitch Tuesday in his old stomping grounds, Seattle.
Game 3: RHP Lucas Harrell (0-1 / 1.50 ERA / 1.33 WHIP) vs. LHP Brett Anderson ( 0-1 / 2.57 / 1.14 WHIP)
Houston, get ready for the madness. The Oakland circus is coming to town. The Athletics, 2012 AL West Champions, finished the season 33-13. The A's Stole the AL West crown from the Rangers and forced the Angels out of the playoffs. Moneyball doesn't exactly look the same as it did with the famous 2002 Athletics run by Brad Pitt. (I mean Billy Beane. It's so hard to tell them apart) The face of the Athletics baseball is pitching and defense, their defensive efficiency ranked third best in baseball. At the same time, the young Oakland staff was second in ERA in the American League last year. The Athletics batters set an AL record for strikeouts in 2012, but still had the most pitches per bate of any team. Their change of fortune came with the return of the long ball. Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes lead the way as the Athletics posted 195 homeruns last year. Oakland is the blueprint for Houston to follow; at this moment are they are kindred spirits. So much so, it appears Billy Beane and Jeff Luhnow are trading players back and forth like Ed Wade and the Phillies. Old faces, Nate Freiman and Jed Lowrie return to Houston, while Chris Carter and Brad Peacock will be looking to make impression on their old team. I can't hate Oakland like I do the "Dallas" Rangers, so I look forward to embracing the madness.
Game 1: RHP Brad Peacock (2012 AAA SAC: 12-9 / 6.01 ERA / 1.59 WHIP) vs. RHP Dan Straily (2012: 2-1 / 3.89 ERA / 1.322 WHIP)
Game 3: RHP Bud Norris (1-0 / 3.18 ERA / 1.41 WHIP) vs. LHP Brett Anderson ( 0-1 / 2.57 / 1.14 WHIP)
Oakland SBNation Blog: Athletics Nation
Dan Straily will take the mound in game one, Straily came out of nowhere to help solidify the Oakland rotation this past season. Straily has solid fastball command and a sharp slider to keep batters off balance. In 2012, Straily was 6-3 with 2.03 ERA and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings rate with AAA Sacramento. To steal line from Matthew Berry, "Big Fat" Bartolo Colon will be next in line against the Astros. Colon has survived this late in his career with an AL-best walk rate and a fastball that still tops over 90+ MPH. This all maybe a result of synthetic testosterone that Colon was banded 50 games for last year. Opening Day starter Brett Anderson will face the Astros' Opening Day starter Bud Norris in the Sunday matinee. Anderson is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2011, is looking to claim the spot as the Athletics' ace before being traded way for prospects.
The Athletics just finished a four game series against the Mariners at home, closing the series with two wins and 14 runs. The Astros have managed zero runs in their last two games. Josh Reddick leads this merry band; he became the first Athletics player to hit 30 homeruns since 2008. Reddick has seen his walk rate and pitches per plate appearance rise each year. A Gold Glove winner in 2012, Reddick had an astounding 15 assists in 2012 - third best in the Major League baseball. Yoenis Cespedes is building a Babe Ruth-like legend in Cuba. The Athletics were 82-47 with Cesedes in the lineup last year. CoCo Crisp is the warden of this madhouse, creating the team's identity with the "Bernie Lean". Crisp is around league average for OBP (.325) but his 90 percent success on stolen-base attempts sets him apart. I have to admit, my Oakland preview was incorrect - Josh Donaldson is starting at third base over Jed Lowrie. That said, Lowrie is still starting at shortstop. I didn't expect Hiroyuki Nakajima to get injured at the end of Spring Training. Lowrie is too useful to keep out of the lineup, 16 homeruns in 2012 and .244/.311/.438 slash line. Oakland had invested too much in Lowrie and Nakajima ($6.5 million over two years) to not have them both not in the lineup on a daily basis. Speaking of Mr. Lowrie he has been on a bit of hot streak - four hits and three RBIs over the past two games. One of the hardest cuts this spring training for the Astros was Nate Freiman. Frieman got the start Wednesday at first, getting two hits and an RBI. Is it time for everyone to freak-out and loose faith in Luhnow, right? Wrong.
Former Athletics farmhand, Brad Peacock will make the start Friday. Peacock was part of the Jed Lowrie trade, and won a starting job over Alex White this Spring Training. Peacock is a bulldog of pitcher, fighting to shake off his bust status after a rough 2012 campaign in Sacramento. Peacock was solid in Florida with a record of 0-1 record and a 2.78 ERA. Erik Bedard is getting his last chance with the Astros, after a rough 2012 campaign riddled with back spasms down the stretch with Pittsburg. The Canadian has been excellent thus far in 2012, working 3.1 scoreless innings against the Rangers on Opening Day with 2 strikeouts and a save. Bud Norris will make the Sunday start after a winning Opening Day. Norris seems to have had a drop in his velocity and struggled to keep the ball around the plate (or at least that's what it looked like from my Bob Uecker seats).
Outside Opening , the Astros offense has been terrible, plain and simple terrible. The only bright point - the Game Breaker. Marwin Gonzalez is my new hero. My every attempt to jinx Darvish on twitter came up short until Gonzalez's glorious hit. Jose Altuve is leading the way thus far with a.417 batting average thus far. While Justin Maxwell, Carlos Pena, Rick Ankiel, Brett Wallace, and Chris Carter all have 5+ strikeouts already in this young season. Of Wallace's ten at-bats, eight have ended in strikeouts. Hopefully, Christ Carter will be motivated to get his first hit of the season against his old team.
Break out the orange uniforms and lets get the first weekend series going, hope to see everyone at the ballpark.