Houston vs. Detroit, 7:10 PM CT
The Astros return battered and bruised after their first swing through the American League East, a tough 1-6 trek through Boston and New York. Only to have the American League champions waiting for them when they return to the "Juice Box". This will also be the eighth game in a row by the Astros, by the end of the weekend series -eleven games in row. This has been and will continue be a tough stretch of the calendar, to say the least.
Jordan Lyles return to the show tonight to face Rick Porcello. Lyles had a terrible stint in Spring Training, collecting a 17.74 ERA and a 3.17 WHIP in 11 2/3 innings pitched. As a result, he was sent to AAA Oklahoma City to work out he kinks. In OKC, Lyles allowed 14 earned runs over 23 2/3 innings. By no means is he blowing things out of the water, but 2.93 Grounball/Flyball ratio is nice. Lynes' attempt to work on specific pitches in Spring Training, may have hurt his chances to make the opening day roster. On the other hand, it may have helped him to continue working on the velocity differential between his fastball and sinker.
Rick Porcello entered Spring Training as a possible candidate for the vacant closer position; in the end, he returned to the rotation. The closer position has fallen back to Jose Valverde (remember him?), while Porcello has struggled thus far. In four starts, he has given up nineteen runs, while only giving up three homeruns and walking two. Porcello hasn't hurt himself with poor pitches, but he is being hit all over the place. The fielding behind Porcello may have just as much control over his hit total as Porcello. Porcello won't bring out the "Kstros" but he should keep the ball out of the Crawford Boxes.
The Tigers bring the best middle of the lineup in baseball to Houston, four former Silver Slugger winners batting in order. Detroit has a triple-crown winner in the three hole, how often can you say that? Prince Fielder is two-for-four with a homerun of Lyles. On the other side of the coin, once again the young Astros have no experience against Porcello. The few veterans that have, Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno are batting a collective .333 and each have a homerun.