Welp. It's been an interesting few weeks for the Astros. A 10-game winning streak followed by three-game sweep at the hands of the basement dwelling Rangers. The Astros look to get back on track against the Angels, who currently sit in second place in the American League West. The Angels are two games under .500 and five games behind the Astros in the West.
Los Angeles is 4-6 in their last ten games, after taking two out of three from the Mariners at home coming into tonight. The season is young but the bigger the buffer the Astros build earlier, the more room for error they have late.
The Astros and Angels faced one another as part of the Astros grueling 15-game trek through the American League West in the month of April. The Astros took 2-of-3 at home. Mike Trout singlehandedly took game one with two home runs to drive in five of the Angels' six runs in the game. Dallas Keuchel put on the Astros' shooting star throwbacks and shut down the Angels, allowing zero runs over six innings in the win. Houston's four early runs held up in game three with Scott Feldman on the mound.
Game 1: RHP Collin McHugh (4-0, 3.41 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (2-2, 3.14 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Game 2: RHP Roberto Hernandez (1-2, 4.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (0-4, 6.29 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Game 3: LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-0, 0.80 ERA, 0.76 WHIP) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (2-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
Game 4: RHP Scott Feldman (2-3, 5.50 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (2-1, 2.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
The Astros starting pitching has come back down to earth, falling out of the top five in ERA to ninth (3.49). To be frank it would probably be even higher if not for Dallas Keuchel's excellent start to the season.
In game one, Collin McHugh faces Hector Santiago. McHugh has won 11 straight decision dating back to 2014, one more win and he ties an Astros' record. McHugh has given up three-plus in his last four outings, including four home runs to Seattle in his last start. The Astros righty is 0-2 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts in Anaheim. Hector Santiago is one of the few things that has gone right for the Angels. Santiago has shaved almost entire run on his ERA from 2014, and he has allowed three runs or less in four of his five starts this season.
Roberto Hernandez is on another grading scale when he takes the mound, did he keep Houston in the game for six innings? Thus far he can say he did so in three of his five starts this season. In his most recent outing he gave up four earned runs over six innings on eight Mariners hits. Hernandez is 0-2 with a 1.97 ERA in six appearances at Angels stadium in his career. Jered Weaver's magic may have finally worn off. His sub 90-mph fastball simple isn't cutting anymore, as he has five runs or more in half of his starts this season. That said, he controlled the Astros for six innings on April 17 - allowing only two runs on six hits.
What more can we say about Dallas Keuchel? All glory to the beard. May the beard with you, always. Keuchel has pitched 25 innings in his last three starts, and allowed only two earned runs. The Astros lefty is 3-0 with a 3.98 ERA in five starts in Anaheim. Matt Shoemakers' ERA looks troublesome if you're the Angels, but in reality he is one out short of collecting a quality outing in all of his starts expect one. His ERA of 5.40 ballooned up because of a three inning out where he gave up five runs to the Oakland on April 20.
I'm not sure what to make of Scott Feldman, he's the type of pitcher any team would be happy to have at the right price. He is your prototypical fourth or five starter, but on the Astros he's the number three starter. He has four quality starts this season, and two games were he has given up six or more runs. Hopefully the Astros will get more out of category "A" this time around. Garrett Richards returned from knee surgery to make his first in 2015 in Houston. He held the Astros in check for three runs over five inning on April 19. Richards has taken off from there with three-straight quality starts.
Preston Tucker was called up to replace George Springer, who went on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion. The 2012 draft pick out of Florida was batting .320 (32x100) with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs with Triple A Fresno this season. Evan Gattis has led the way for the Astros in their last seven games, he is batting .333 with six extra-base hits and nine runs batted in. The catcher position has taken off as well, Jason Castro and Hank Conger combined are batting .333 with four extra base hits. Jose Altuve, Jake Marisnick, Luis Valbuena, and Chris Carter have cooled off, batting under .250 this past week.
Astros killer Albert Pujols has been hot in his last five games, batting .368 with a two home runs and three RBI. Outside of that, the Angels have been rough at the plate. Even Mike Trout is feeling it, he is batting .208 with six strikeouts in his last six games.
Former Astros farm hand, catcher Carlos Perez hit a game-winning home run in his first major league start on Tuesday.
The Astros split the four game series with the Angels. Even with the suspect rotation trotted out by the Angels, the Astros offense hasn't looked the same without Jed Lowrie. Now without Springer, Houston has too many adjustment to make on the fly for a positive outlook this series.