Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, August 21-23, 2015
Maybe it's not the nerd bowl that I refereed to in the subheadline. But, this series does have a unique feel. It feels like a playoff series of sorts, a new feeling for the Astros and their fans.
The Astros have gotten all the pitching they need this week but have hit around .200 for the past month. Houston is 5-5 in their last ten games and are coming off a four-game series split with the Rays. The Astros sit 2.5 games against of the Angels and four games ahead of the surging Rangers.
The Dodgers, too, are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They dropped a two-game series with the Athletics, being outscored 10-6 in the series. The Dodgers are 2.5 games ahead of the Giants and eight games ahead of the next team -- the Diamondbacks.
Of course, the Astros get the worst of the pitching rotation the Dodgers offer. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are the best one-two punch in the Majors - both have an ERA south of 2.50. The Astros hope to counter with Scott Kazmir and the return of Lance McCullers.
Friday: RHP Mike FIers (5-9, 3.87 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. LHP Brett Anderson (7-7, 3.48 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Saturday: LHP Scott Kazmir (6-8, 2.43 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (13-2, 1.58 ERA, 0.86 WHIP)
Sunday:RHP Lance McCullers (5-4, 3.17 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.34 ERA, 0.92 WHIP)
This is easily the hardest pitching match up the Astros will face all season, Greinke and Kershaw may be the best two pitchers in Major League Baseball.
The Astros have to hope to steal game one to give themselves a fighting chance for a series victory. Mike Fiers makes his second start at Minute Maid Park as an Astros - he has allowed just one run over his last 12 innings of work. Midland, TX native, Brett Anderson, make the opening start for the Dodgers. Anderson is 4-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 58 inning on the road this season. He is 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA since the All-Star break, he he allowed three runs over six innings against the Red in his last start.
Scott Kazmir make his third start as an Astros at Minute Maid Park. He has struggled his last two starts, allowing eight runs over his last 11 innings. Zack Greinke is going to win the National League Cy-Young award, it's plain in simple. He is 3-0 with 2.84 ERA during three starts in August.
Lance McCullers returns to the rotation after spending two weeks in Corpus Christi to rest his arm. He gets the toughest of tests in his return, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is 4-0 with 0.98 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.
Jose Altuve has been doing his thing, he is batting .394 (13-33) in his last seven games. Marwin Gonzalez has been everything you could ask for, he is batting .318 with three extra-base hits in his last 22 at-bats.
The Dodgers will have new toy for the first time today after trading for Chase Utley -- reuniting him with Jimmy Rollins. Yuile Puig is batting .385 (5x13) with a home run in his last four games. Former Astros Kike Hernandez is batting .381 (8x21) with three RBIs in his last five games.
The Astros steal one game, and get overpowered by the Dodgers' two-headed monster.