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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox, May 17-19, 2016

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Welcome back to the 2005 World Series Classic between the Astros and White Sox.

Jon Durr/Getty Images

The Houston Astros trade in Red Sox for White Sox this week. Houston goes from one division leader to another. When the Chicago White Sox first burst onto the scene in 2016 it was because of the Adam LaRoche saga about his son Drake LaRoche.

All the White Sox have done since then is ride the success of Chris Sale to the top of the AL Central. The White Sox are 4.5 games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians and 5.5 games ahead of the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals.

At the moment, Chicago is stumbling entering Tuesday's game. The White Sox have lost four of the last five games. But the Astros aren't much better having lost three of the last four against the Red Sox.

Starting pitching

Tuesday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-5, 5.58 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (1-4, 4.99 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)
Wednesday: RHP Doug Fister (3-3, 4.22 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) vs. RHP Mat Latos (5-0, 3.40 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Thursday: RHP Collin McHugh (4-3, 5.58 ERA, 1.71 WHIP) vs. LHP Chris Sale (8-0, 1.67 ERA, 0.76 WHIP)

Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Rodon could have easily been teammates this season. The Astros decided to select Brady Aiken out of Cathedral Catholic High School  instead of Rodon to North Carolina State. Rodon went to the White Sox at No. 3 overall.

Keuchel hasn't looked like his old self in 2016. He has struggled mightily in his last four starts, Keuchel is 0-4 with a 7.98 ERA -- allowing 44 hits over 29 1/3 innings.

Keuchel is 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA in four career starts against the White Sox. In his one start in Chicago in 2015, Keuchel allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings in a 4-2 loss.

Current White Sox are batting .245 (23x94) against Keuchel with .280 BABIP, 3.37 FIP, 17.0 K%, and a 4.0 BB%.

Carlos Rodon is making the opening series start on six games rest. Rodon has struggled over his last three starts, he is 0-2 with a 5.95 ERA and 20 strikeouts. He allowed six runs over 6 2/3 innings in his last start on May 10 against the Rangers.

Doug Fister has posted five straight quality starts for the Astros coming into Wednesday's game. Fister had his best outing of the season in his last start, holding the Indians to two runs over seven innings.

Mat Latos was the biggest roll of the dice this season in free agency. Latos has paid off for the White Sox thus far. In April, Latos was 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA. He has come back down to earth a bit in May, he is 1-0 with 7.84 ERA over 10 1/3 innings.

Coming into the season Collin McHugh was locked in as the Astros' No. 2 starter, but he has pitched like the team's No. 5 starter. McHugh has been serviceable but needing the offense to pick him up in his starts. He has shown positive strides in May, going 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in three starts.

Chris Sale is good, so very good. Sale is the fourth pitcher in White Sox's history to start the season by winning his first eight starts.

Relief pitching

The Astros bullpen has been reshaped a bit this season. Josh Fields is in the minor leagues and Michael Feliz has earned his spot in the majors. Feliz has allowed just one run over his last 4 2/3 inning in relief while showing an electric fastball.

The Astros closer Luke Gregerson has blown saves in two of his last three chances. Ken Giles and Will Harris have pitched a combined 5 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball.

The White Sox hasn't been that taxed over the team's last seven days. The bullpen has pitched 8 1/3 innings during that time. Former Astro reliever Matt Albers has allowed four runs over his 1 2/3 innings. Scott Carroll has allowed three runs over 1 1/3 innings, and Zach Duck has allowed two earned runs over 1 2/3 innings. Albers, Duke, and Dan Jennings have blown a save over the past seven days.

Lineup

Jose Altuve has been playing like an MVP all season, he kept it up last week. He batted .423 (11x26) with six runs scored and two doubles over the team's last six games. Marwin Gonazlez has hit his way into the lineup batting .318 (7x22) with a home run and four RBIs last week.

Goerge Springe may have been the hottest Astros hitter off all. He hit .308 (8x26) with three home runs and nine RBIs over the last six games.

Carlos Gomez was 1x21 over his last six games and was sent to the disabled list on Tuesday. Tyler White has struggled to get playing time while batting .100 (1x10) over his last five games.

Melky Cabrera has been leading the White Sox offensive over their last five games, he is batting .350 (7x20) with three doubles and three RBIs. Adam Eaton is also swinging a strong stick, he is .333 (9x27) with one home run and four RBIs in his last seven games. Todd Frazier is batting .360 (9x25) in his last seven games with four home runs and 12 RBIs.

Prediction

The Astros take two of three with the two new rookies in tow. I'm taking a shot in the dark at this point.