Game 42 Preview: Astros at Pirates

USA TODAY Sports

Astros return to old NL Central stopping grounds for the first time as a member of the AL.

Houston vs. Pittsburgh, 6:05 PM CT

TV: CSN Houston
Radio: KBME 790 AM
Pirates SBNation Blog: Bucs Dugout

Pitching Match

RHP Jordan Lyles (1-1, 8.36 ERA / 1.93 WHIP) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (2-0 / 2.28 ERA / 1.16 WHIP)

Preview

The Astros return to Pittsburgh for their first taste of the senior circuit, as a member of the American League. There has been much uproar about Houston affecting the integrity of the game after making the switch to the "more competitive" AL West. As noted by Pirates beat writer Rob Biertempfel, the Rangers are the only team over .500 in the AL West, while the top three win-loss records in the National League are in the NL Central. This includes the Pirates; they are 7 games over .500 and have won 7 of their last 10 games. Leading the way for Pittsburgh is the pitching staff, ranking in the top 3 in ERA, strikeouts, and batting average against. The Bucs lead the NL in K/9 rate (8.23), but rank near the bottom in K/BB rate (2.34). It will be interesting to see how the Kstros attack the Pittsburg rotation this series.

Taking the hill for Houston is Jordan Lyles. Lyles has had an up and down start to his 2013 campaign. He allowed only 5 runs over 2 starts against the Tigers and Angels, but was destroyed by the Rangers in last start. The Astros right-hander gave up 8 ERs on 11 hits, over 4 innings of work. Lyles struggled with runners on base, in the 3 innings that the Rangers scored - the leadoff hitter reached base to start the inning. I admit I'm over simplifying, but Lyles cannot afford to put himself in a hole early each inning. Lyles is 0-4 against Pittsburgh lifetime, which may relate to the fact that Andrew McCutchen (.615) and Garrett Jones (.500) are batting around .500 against him.

In 2012, Jeanmar Gómez made 17 starts for Cleveland - collecting a 5.96 ERA. At the beginning of 2013, was traded from Cleveland to Pittsburgh for Quincy Latimore. Since arriving in the steel city, Gómez has turned it around. In 13 2/3 innings out of the bullpen to start the season, he gave up only 4 runs. In May, he returned to the rotation, making three starts and posting a 1.93 ERA. Gómez is still stretching out his arm, and hasn't pitched more then 80 pitches in a game thus far. Gómez's best pitch is his sinker and he mixes in a changeup and slider to change speeds. In his one start in Houston as Indian, Gómez gave up 5 runs over 5 2/3 innings. In that game, J.D. Martinez was 1 of 2 with a homerun and 2 RBIs. Frankly, the Pittsburgh right-hander's track record and the 2013 version are complete opposites - it's a puzzle the Astros will have to figure out tonight.


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