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Series Preview: Houston Astros at San Diego Padres, April 27-29, 2015

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Astros head down I-5 to continue their west coast swing for three games against the Padres.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Series Preview: Houston Astros at San Diego Padres, April 27-29, 2015

It's been a whirlwind April for the Astros, who are now four games over .500 and 2 1/2 games against of the Angels for first place in the AL West. Houston is coming of a four game sweep to face the 2015 off-season champion Padres. San Diego sits one game behind the Dodgers in the NL West race with a 11-9 record this young season.

The Astros and Padres are deeply connected in some ways and polar opposites in others. Houston has become Padres East with six former Padres in the bullpen. Samuel Deduno, Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Chad Qualls, and Joe Thatcher were all members of 2011 Padres. While Tony Sipp was picked up off waivers from the Padres in 2014. Not to forget, manager A.J. Hinch was a Padres executive before joining the Astros.

That's were the similarities stop, on the field these teams have gone a completely different directions to rebuild their franchises. Padres were the talk of the offseason with monster deal after monster deal to bring in Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Will Myers, and James Shields. While Astros built with controllable assets and prospects. It will be interesting to see how the two teams compare this series and at the end of the season.

Pitching

Game 1: RHP Collin McHugh (3-0, 2.41, 1.18 WHIP) vs. RHP James Shields (2-0, 3.24 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
Game 2: RHP Roberto Hernadez (0-2, 3.57 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (1-1, 3.97 ERA, 1.68 WHIP)
Game 3: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-0, 0.62 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (1-3, 2.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

This is arguably the best set of pitching match ups in 2015. Dallas Kuechel and Collin McHugh who are combined 5-0 this season, hope to help the Astros collect their first above .500 April since 2006. The Padres count with James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross - a three-headed monster any team would be happy to have.

McHugh comes into Monday's start with ten-straight win under his belt dating back to the 2014 season. He has struck out 18 batters in his first 18.2 innings this season. He held the Mariners to three runs over seven innings on what he called "pocket knife" stuff. "Big Game" James Shields found the payday he was looking for with the Padres. San Diego was looking for a veteran leader at the top of the rotation, and Shields hasn't disappointed thus far. He has four quality starts in as many starts this season, and struck out 29 batters in 25 innings thus far.

Roberto Hernadez hasn't been pretty thus far, but he's done enough for the Astros. He has back-to-back quality starts against division opponents coming into Tuesday's game. He has struck out eight and walked just two over his last two starts. One of the Padres brightest young stars, Tyson Ross has struggled in his last two outings. He hasn't been able to get through six innings, and he has walked 16 batters in 22 2/3 innings.

What more can be said of Dallas Keuchel? Like beard that wears Rockets across chest down the street in Houston, the Astros' beard has been lights out. He is coming off a nine-inning shutout of the Mariners, where he allowed only two hits. The Conroe, TX native, Andrew Cashner was the Padres' horse last season. This season he has allowed just two earned runs in his last 19 innings.

Batting

The Padres 93 runs are the second most in the Major League, behind only the Blue Jays. Matt Kemp, Yonder Alonso, and Derrick Norris are all batting over .300 in their last 20 plat appearances. Norris has four doubles and six RBIs during that same stretch. Will Myers and Justin Upton lead the Padres with two home runs in the team's last six games.

The Astros are happy to have Jake Marisnick back, who went 3-for-4 with a home run in his return from the lineup after two games to rest a leg injury. Jed Lowrie and Jose Altuve have been deadly in the middle of the Astros lineup, batting over .350 each in their last five games. Evan Gattis maybe turning a corner after, driving in four runs in the Astros 7-6 win on Sunday.

With the Astros in an NL park, Houston added another bench bat by promoting L.J. Hoes. Hoes has been killing in Triple A, batting over .400 this season.

Prediction

The Astros take two in San Diego. It's too much to ask to beat Shields, Ross, and Cashner in one series.