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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks, October 2-4, 2015

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The Astros have three games to make the playoffs.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks, October 2-4, 2015

For all the great things that have happened for the Astros in 2015, the season comes down to one series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yup, as other teams are playing in-division games to end of the season -- the Astros are playing a series against a team that has been out of the race for many months. But that works in the Astros favor, as the Angels play a playoff team and the Twins play a team that just dropped out of the playoffs.

The easiest way for the Astros to make the playoffs is to win all three games against Arizona. The Diamondbacks are 36-36 in the second half of the season, 14-13 in September, 10-7 in interleague play, and 38-40 at home. Many things point to the D-Backs not being a walk in the park.

The Astros are 31-47 on the road and 14-3 in interleague play. Houston did it's job and got a 2-1 series victory over the Mariners. They now must do it again to reach the playoffs.

Pitching

Friday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (19-8, 2.47 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) vs. RHP Rubby De La Rosa (14-8, 4.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
Saturday: RHP Collin McHugh (18-7, 3.98 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (9-11, 4.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Sunday: TBA vs. LHP Robbie Ray (5-12, 3.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Keuchel and McHugh flipped spots in the rotation, possibly an opening round/Wild Card game start for Keuchel. Keuchel would pitch on two days rest and three days in Wild Card Game on game on Tuesday.

In an Astros win on August 1, Keuchel allowed two runs over six innings against the Diamondbacks with eight strikeouts and three walks. Collin McHugh pitched seven innings against the Diamondbacks on Aug. 2, skinning out six and walking one -- Astros won 4-1.

Rubby Carlos De La Rosa has picked up wins in his last two starts, allowing two earned runs over his last 11 1/3 innings. In September he is 3-2 with a 5.18 ERA. Hellickson allowed just one run on four hits over six innings in San Diego in his last start.

Robbie Ray has a 2-2 record with a 2.70 ERA in five Sept. starts. He is 1-6 with a 4.94 ERA at home this season.

Batting

Chris Carter has returned to his Trogdor form, batting .385 (5x13) with four home runs and six RBIs in his last five games. Evan Gattis is knocking the cover off the ball, batting .381 (8x21) with two triples and a home run. THey'll have to find a way to get his bat in the line up with a designated hitter.

Ender Inciarte and David Peralta have been on fire for the D-Backs batting .412 (7x17) and .357 (5x14) respectively over the past week. inciarte leads the team with four extra-base hits.

Prediction

The easy answer here is the Astros will find a way to dig deep and sweep the Diamondbacks. In reality, I expect to see the Astros win two of three and still make the playoffs.