The 2015 Houston Astros were a great story to watch unfold. The Astros made the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons and winning a Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees. One of the most important factors to the Astros' success last season was the team's start to the season. The Astros went 15-7 during April last season. The Astros didn't relinquish the AL West crown until September because of the buffer build in April.
Fast forward to 2016, the Astros have lost just as many games they lost in 2015 in a week and half of games. The Astros starting staff has the seventh-worst ERA in baseball with a 5.37 ERA. The bullpen staff hasn't been any better with a 5.56 ERA -- fifth-worst in baseball.
The Astros can't look for relief with their batters either. The Astros lead baseball in strikeouts with 102. But strikeouts are nothing new for the Astros.The only positive for the team thus far as been extra base hits and stolen bases. Houston is in the top ten for double (19), triples (3), and home runs (15). The Astros lead all of MLB with nine stolen bases.
Friday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 3.55 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-1, 14.73 ERA, 2.45 WHIP)
Saturday: RHP Collin McHugh (1-1, 6.14 ERA, 1.91 WHIP) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (0-1, 8.71 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)
Sunday: RHP Mike Fiers (0-1, 6.55 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Nothing has gone right for the most part for the start of the Astros season. Even Dallas Keuchel has struggled this season. After two starts, Keuchel has given up 10 walks. He only walked four batters in one game once during his Cy-Young award season and now he has done two games in a row.
Keuchel was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in one start against the Tigers last season. He struck out eight and walked one over seven innings. In his career, Keuchel is 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA in four appearances (three starts). Current Tigers are batting .247 (19x77) with a .283 BABIP, 3.640 FIP, 18.29 K% and 5.00 BB%.
The Astros will face Mike Pelfrey in game one against the Tigers. During Spring Training, he was strong with a 2-2 record with a 2.66 ERA in five starts. It didn't translate to the regular season. In his one start this season, he allowed six runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings against the Yankees on April 9.
Pelfrey is 0-2 with a 12.91 ERA in two starts against the Astros last season. He allowed 11 earned runs over 7 2/3 innings. Current Astros are batting .250 (14x56) with .279 BABIP, 4.986 FIP, 17.46 K%, and 11.00 BB%.
Collin McHugh hopes to build on his second start of the season and not his first. McHugh gave five earned runs over 1/3 of an inning in his first start and pitching seven scoreless in his second.
The mystery of Justin Verlander continues. He has allowed 10 runs over 10 1/3 innings this season, he will start in game two.
Mike Fiers has allowed eight runs in 11 innings. He improved in his second start, notching a quality start -- allowing three runs over six innings.
Anibal Sanchez has been good and bad. He hasn't allowed more than two runs this season in both of his starts. But, he hasn't gotten out of the sixth inning either.
Tyler White has come back down to earth a bit, batting .438 (14x32) through 1 games but he still has three double and three home runs. The rookie has shown he is what the Astros need a non-strikeout first hitter. Jose Altuve is batting .317 (13x41) with two home runs in his last two games.
Carlos Correa and Colby Rasmus round out the Astros hitter over .300 in the young season. White, Altuve, Correa and Ramus all have three home runs this season.
For Astro J.D. Martinez continues to make Houston fans grumble as he shows he isn't a fluke. He is batting .433 (13x30) with a home run and five RBIs to start the season. Jose Iglesias is swinging a hot stick as well, batting .320 (8x25) with an RBI. Nick Castellanos rounds out the batters for the Tigers hitting over .300 at the moment, batting .333 (10x30) with two home runs and seven RBIs.
I've been wrong in all three series thus far, but the Astros will win 2-1 because of Keuchel and McHugh.