AL Series Preview: Astros vs. White Sox, May 16-18, 2014

USA TODAY Sports

Queue up the 2005 World Series video packages....

Houston Astros (14-27) vs. Chicago White Sox (20-22)

TV: CSN Houston, MLB.TV
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
White Sox SBNation Blog: South Side Sox

The White Sox are in town, a team forever tied to the Astros. Of course there will be a few flashbacks to the 2005 World Series, I would assume less from the Astros side of the broadcast. I would venture to name this series after Geoff Blum, but with the recent history I might call it the Jose Abreu Series.

So, Jose Abreu has worked out...for the White Sox.

Jose Abreu has been tearing the cover off the ball in his brief time in the major leagues. A dreadful sight for some Astros fans since the team made a run at getting Abreu but wasn't able to stick the landing. He currently has 15 home runs and 41 RBIs in 42 games. Abreu has a 1.000 OPS with three home runs and six RBIs over the past seven days. 10 of his 24 most recent at-bats have resulted in a strikeout. He reminds me of Chris Carter in a perfect world.

The White Sox have two wins and five losses in their last seven games, and before that they swept their crosstown rivals the Cubs. They were outscored 26-42 in those seven games.The White Sox are currently tied for second in runs scored in the American league (205) and stand alone in second in total bases (610).

Conor Gillaspie returned from a stint on the disabled list earlier this month, and he brought his bat back with him. Over his last 17 at-bats, he has an .915 OPS with a double and three runs scored. Gordon Beckham leads the team in hits with eight over the last seven games, he 8-for-24 with home run and 2 RBIs during that time period. Two staples of the White Sox offense are in a bit of slump - Alexei Ramirez (4-21) and Adam Dunn (0-10).

A sliver of light at the end of the tunnel....

At some point the Astros will turn the corner, they have to - right? Right? The team's most recent recent series maybe an example of them doing just that. Houston took two of three from the Rangers for their first series win against Arlington since 2008. The Astros were also able to string together five-straight games with at-least 11 hits.

Over team's last six games, the Astros have seven players with an OPS over .800 - LJ Hoes, Jose Altuve, Marc Krauss, Dexter Fowler, Chris Carter, George Springer, and Matt Dominguez. Jose Altuve is leading the way for the Astros offense - batting .444 (12-27) with three doubles during that stretch. Dexter Fowler appears to be over his early stomach virus and rounding back into form - he was 3-for-3 with two walk in his last game.

The Astros rotation has been a bright spot of late, posting a 3.15 over the team's last ten starts.

Pitching Matchups

RHP Collin McHugh (2-1, 2.81 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (1-3, 3.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)

TCB has turned Collin McHugh into the Wizard Oz and a time-lord in his short time with the Astros. We wouldn't take the time to do that if he wasn't going something good on the mound. He has three quality starts in his first four outings this season. He has given up eight earned runs overs 25.2 innings, five of those runs coming in one start (4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, vs. SEA on May 4). His most recent start was a no decision on Baltimore, McHugh pitched 6.1 innings - 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO. McHugh will once again attempt to amaze against a lineup that doesn't have an active player with an at-bat against him.

Jose Quintana has been a rock for the White Sox with Chris Sale on the shelf. He has recorded a quality start in seven of his eight outings. He hasn't gotten any help from the White Sox offense has posted an average 2.50 runs in his last six starts (10 in 36 IP), as a result Quintana is winless in those six games. Quintana will work in a mix of fastball, changeup, and curveball. In his most recent start, he gave up three runs over six innings in a 4-3 loss to Arizona on Saturday.

Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez have had a field day with Quintana in their careers. Castros is 3-for-5 with two doubles and two walks, and Dominguez is 3-for-6 with a double. L.J. Hoes (0-4, 2 SO) and Chris Carter (0-3, 2 BB, 1 SO) are both hitless against the White Sox lefty. Jose Altuve has struggled against Quintana in his career, going 1-for-7 with four strikeouts.

RHP Jarred Cosart (2-3, 4.30 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) vs. RHP Hector Noesi (0-3, 7.25 ERA, 1.70 WHIP)

Jarred Cosart can win any start he makes, the only factor that plays into that outcome is his control. How many extra base runners will he give the White Sox? How many pitches will he leave up? Outside of that all important factor, Cosart can overpower batters and work out of any jam with his stuff. He has nothing but spectacular since he failed to record a second out in Oakland on April 18.  Cosart has given up six runs over his last 15.2 innings, striking out 16 and walking 10.

Cosart previously faced the White Sox August 28, 2013 - he pitched six innings and gave up eared run. Avisail Garcia (2-3) , Paul Konerko (2-3), and Gordon Beckham (1-3) are the only White Sox that have a career hit of Cosart.

Hector Noesi is on his third team this season already and it's not even June yet. He is 0-2 with a 2.77 ERA over 16 innings pitched. He is making only his four start this season, and is coming off a quality start in Arizona were he gave up three runs over six innings on Sunday.

Jose Altuve is lone Astro with multiple at-bats against Noesi in their career, he is 1-for-3 with an RBI. Matt Dominguez is 1-for-1 with a double. Marc Krauss and Jonathan Villar are both 1-for-1.

RHP Brad Peacock (0-4, 5.63 ERA, 1.72 WHIP) vs. LHP John Danks (3-3, 4.88 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

Brad Peacock has pitched well enough to keep the Astros in ballgames in the month of May, giving up 11 runs over 18.2 innings. His one major downfall has been the long ball, he has given five over his last three starts. This will be the first time any active White Sox faces Peacock.

John Danks, Austin, TX native, coming to today's game with two straight quality starts. He picked up loss in his more recent outing in Oakland on May 12 - giving up three runs over six innings. Like Peacock, Danks has had a large number of home runs over his last few starts - four in 17 innings.

Jason Castro (1-3) and Chris Castro (1-3) each have a home run in their careers against Danks.

Predictions

The Astros will split the first two games of this series, and the final game will come down to the quality of the starting pitching. I'm willing to bet on Brad Peacock's first run against the White Sox compared to John Danks' home run track record against Houston. Second straight series win for Houston.

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