Houston Astros (34-46) vs. Detroit Tigers (43-32)
The obvious story for this series at the beginning of the season would have been the return of Brad Ausmus to Houston. Ausmus who spent 10 years with the Astros and was named the Tigers' manager this offseason. But, former Astro J.D. Martinez has hit away to the front page.
The Tigers took three of four in Detroit against the Astros earlier this season in May. Since then the Tigers have been on a bit of tailspin as the Royals took the lead in the American League Central for the first time since 2003. But, since that time the Tigers have surged back to take a 4.5 game lead in the central. Now, they come to town to face the 'Kstros'.
Where did that come from?!
The Tigers come to today's game with a seven-game winning streaking. This includes a three-game sweep of the Rangers, where the Tigers outscored the Rangers 22-8. One of the keys to this surge is Astros' castoff J.D. Martinez. He is batting .400 (16-40) with six home runs and 16 RBIs in his last ten games. Yeesh, sometimes it takes a new environment for someone to thrive, or like many times Martinez is the same guy that was very hot and cold at the plate with Astros.
Of course the usual suspects brought their bats with them over the past week for the Tigers. Four players, including the previously mentioned J.D. Martinez, have an OPS over .950 in the team's last six games. Victor Martinez, 9-for-23 with five extra base hits and six walks in his past six games. Ian Kinsler is 12-for-26 with five extra base hits, four walks, and stolen base. Miguel Cabrera, of course wouldn't be left out of the hit party, is 10-for-26 with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs.
Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez have struggle of late. Suarez is batting .172 (5-29) with four walks in his last ten games. Castellanos is batting .255 (9-40) with three RBIs and one walk.
Joe Nathan heads the Tigers bullpen, Nathan has had his troubles this season with five blown saves. He appears to have returned to form with saves in 3 of his last four chances.
Calling all bats, your service is needed...
The 'Kstros' have returned, Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich pointed out this morning that the Astros strikeouts are way up...
In last 14 days, Astros K rate is eye-popping pic.twitter.com/X4sPqwp6HZ— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 27, 2014
Outside of Jose Altuve, there isn't much to preview with the offense has stunk it up. Altuve is leading the majors in hits (107), and the American League in batting average (.334) and steals (30). George Springer has three home runs in his last six games. Matt Dominguez had a nice 2-for-3 game with a home run on Thursday.
Alex Presley gets the Start in center for Dexter Fowler tonight, Fowler is experiencing back tightness. Presley is 2-for-6 with a double against Verlander in his career.
RHP Brad Peacock (2-4, 4.50 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (6-7, 4.82 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)
Baseball is a funny game. Filled with streaks and flukes, and numbers that mislead. Who would have guessed that Brad Peacock would have a lower ERA (4.50) and xFIP (4.42*) then perennial ace Justin Verlander (4.82 ERA, 4.59 xFIP*)? At least for now, it's true. Peacock hopes to improve his stats tonight after skipping his last start because food poisoning.
In his last start on June 15, Peacock allowed two runs on three hits to the Rays. He required 91 pitches to get through just four innings of work. On May 7 in Detroit. Peacock was the tough-luck loser. He gave up three runs over 6.2 innings on four hits and four walks. The Astros lost 3-2 that game. All three runs given up by Peacock came by way of the long ball, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez left the yard.
To say Just Verlander has rough patch this season would be a gross understatement. Starting on May 14, Verlander gave up five or more runs in six of his last eight games. Of course, he appears to have righted the ship in his last start, holding the Indians to two runs over seven with five hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts in the game.
Verlander is facing the majority of the Astros lineup for the first time, with Houston's track record that a positive for the pitcher. Jason Castro is 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts; Chris Carter is 0-3 with three strikeouts.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (8-5, 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (9-3, 3.71 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Tigers Career vs. Keuchel
- Austin Jackson: 3-6, 1 2B
- Ian Kinsler: 6-19, 1 HR
- Victor Martinez: 3-6
Astros Career vs. Scherzer
- Jason Castro: 0-6, 5 K
- Carlos Corporan: 2-5, 2 HR
- Matt Dominguez, 1-9, 4 K
- Dexter Fowler, 4-13, 1 2B
RHP Scott Feldman (3-5, 4.00 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (4-6, 3.19 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Tigers Career vs. Feldman
- Miguel Cabrera: 9-13, 2 2B, 2 HR
- Raja Davis: 4-16, 1 3B
- Torii Hunter: 2-9, 1 3B
- Victor Martinez: 3-3, 1 HR
Astros Career vs. Smyly
- Jose Altuve: 1-3, 1 2B
- L.J. Hoes: 2-2
- George Springer: 1-2, 1 HR
I foresee like many players before him, J.D. Martinez will attempt to lift the chip off his shoulder in one fell swoop against the Astros. As result I expect him to leave the yard or strike out a bunch as he presses. The Astros performance this series is a good yard stick for the year thus far, they won't get blow out but they won't win the series either.
*Stats courtesy of FanGraphs