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Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, September 21-23, 2015

The Astros can take a commanding lead in the Wild Card with a strong showing against the Angels.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, September 21-23, 2015

It doesn't get much bigger than this. 12 games in remain the Astros season. The magic number for the Astros is 11 to clinch a playoff spot, 15 to win the division.

Houston welcomes the Angels to town for three games. The Astros are 9-7 against the Angels this season, and 5-1 against the Halos at home.

The Angles are 5-5 in their last 10 games, taking three of four from the Twins. Both the Angels and Twins are nipping at the Astros heals for the final Wild Card spot and both are 2.5 games back of the Astros. This series could put Houston in the driver seat for a wild card spot or it could have them looking it up at the Angels and out of the playoffs.

Pitchers

Monday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (17-8, 2.56 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (7-11, 4.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
Tuesday: RHP Lance McCullers (5-6, 3.18 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (8-9, 3.47 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Wednesday: RHP Mike FIers (7-10, 3.64 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. RHP Nick Tropeano (2-2, 5.06 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)

I look at these matchups and think the Astros have the advantage in all of them, but the Angels staff has proved me wrong throughout 2015. Jered Weaver has a 4.74 ERA in 2015, but he has a 2-0 record with a 1.71 ERA in three starts against Houston this season. Weaver faces Dallas Keuchel, who is 13-0 with 1.49 ERA in 16 home starts.

Hector Santiago was run out of his last start, allowing five runs and retiring just five batters on Sept. 17 against MInnesota. He allowed just two runs over seven inning in his last start against Houston. Lance McCullers has posted four quality starts in five chances since coming back to the big leagues on Aug. 23.

Mike Fiers has allowed just 11 earned runs over his last seven starts. Fiers faces former Astros prospect Nick Tropeano, he was traded to the L.A. in return for Hank Conger. Tropeano is 1-2 with a 6.53 ERA in five appearances since the All-Star Break.

Batting

The Astros bats appears to have found life again. Jake Marisnick, Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus, Jed Lowrie, and Chris Carter are all batting over .300 in the team's last seven games. Gattis and Ramsus each have two home runs over that same stretch. Marisnick has three stolen bases in three attempts this past week.

Carlos Perez is batting .500 in his last 16 at-bats with three doubles. Former Ranger David Murphy is batting .318 with two home runs and six RBIs in his last 22 at-bats. Mike Trout is batting .280 (7x25) with four home runs and eight RBIs in his last seven games.

Prediction

I like the Astros pitching matchups and I like the way the Astros are swinging the bat lately. I think it's too much to ask for a sweep, but a series victory is well within reach.

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