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Series & Game 113 Preview: Houston Astros at Philadelphia Phillies

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How many sports writers were disappointed Jarred Cosart was traded just before the series in Philadelphia?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview

Welcome to another edition of the Billy Wagner Memorial Classic between two teams in the basement, the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies. These are two teams heading in opposite directions. The Astros have called up three of their five top prospects this season, and slowly show more life on the baseball diamond. While the Phillies are trying to keep the band together as it's crumbling apart. That was magnified at the trade deadline as the Astros moved some of their depth for a king's ransom, and the Phillies sat on their numerous valuable pieces in last place.

The Phillies are now almost three full seasons removed from their last run at the playoffs, five season removed from their last World Series appearance. The entire situation reminds me of the Astros in the late 2000's, not sure what direction to take. The holes in the lineup are filled by the players that are expected to play over their heads. The future of the team's long-time stars is in question. That is right about the time that the ownership makes a change in the front office, and I don't think anyone would be surprised to see Rubén Amaro, Jr. get the pink slip this offseason.

The Phillies are 5-5 in their last ten games, and 7-10 since the All-Star break. They are 1-8 in games against the American League this season. The Astros come in having won two straight series against two playoff teams. As a team the Phillies rank second to last this season in OPS+ (86), and Astros rank in the middle of the pack (94). The fightin Phils pitching staff (93) manned by two aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels is just one spot ahead the Astros (92) in ERA+ for the season.

Speaking of Cliff Lee, the Phillies will be without him for the foreseeable future with elbow injury. In his place will be David Buchanan, he joins Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona) as the starters scheduled in the Astros series. For Houston, they will send out Dallas Keuchel, Brad Peacock (unconfirmed), and Collin McHugh.

Looking at who has been hot this week coming into the series, the Phillies outfield has lead the way. Grady Sizemore (.375 in last 24 at-bats) and Ben Revere (.370 in last 27 at-bats) have been knocking the cover off the ball. Jimmy Rollins is still an offensive weapon is batting .333 (7-21) with two home runs and three stolen bases. Case Utley and Ryan Howard are both batting .050 in their last twenty at-bats.

For the Astros Chris Carter has come alive, posting a 1.021 OPS in his last 21 games - that includes seven home runs. Jose Altuve is continues being Jose Altuve, batting .362 (25-69) since the All-Star Break. Jon Singleton may have started to figure out major league pitching, he has an .827 OPS since the break with seven extra-base hits.

Series Prediction

Houston will take two out of three against the Phillies. Brad Peacock will struggle in his return to the rotation. Jon Singleton and Chris Carter will continue to bash. Sean will swoon about Grady Sizemore at least once this series.

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Game Preview

Houston Astros (47-65) at Philadelphia Phillies (49-63), 6:05 p.m. (CST)

TV: CSN Houston, MLB.TV 
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Phillies SBNation BlogThe Good Phight

Pitching matchup

LHP Dallas Keuchel (10-7, 2.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (5-11, 4.92 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)

Preview

Dallas Keuchel picked up his third complete game this season in his start, and the fifth start that he has gone at least eight innings. He has slowly return to his All-Star worthy form from earlier this season. After four straight starts with giving up four or more runs, Keuchel has allowed just four runs over his last 21 innings. Of the few Phillies Keuchel has previous faced, none have hit him hard. Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-2 with a walk. Chase Utley is 0-for-1 with a walk, and Domonic Brown is 0-for-2 with a walk.

Kyle Kendrick, Houston native, takes the mound tonight for the Phillies. Kendrick has never really been able to put together in his seven-year career, but he has show flashes after he dropped his cutter and went more to his changeup. The changes haven't been enough over the years. After six starts in July, he had an ERA of 6.94. He gave up four runs over six innings in his last start on July 30 against the Mets.

Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Matt Dominguez are the only active Astros to have previously faced Kendrick. All of them have at least one hit - Altuve is 1-for-2, Castro 2-for-4, and Matty D 1-for-2.