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Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, May 27-29, 2016

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

All is right in the world in Astroland -- at least for the moment. The Astros have won three straight games for the first time in 2016 -- that fact alone is telling in how the Astros' season is gone. But now the team heads to the west coast for three games in the AL West Division.

The current standings have the Houston Astros tied for the last place in the division with the Oakland Athletics with a record of 20-28. The Angels are 1 1/2 games ahead of the basement teams with a record of 21-26. The season hasn't gone the way the Angels have wanted thus far losing ace Garett Richards to a possible Tommy John surgery but Richards has decided to go another direction with stem cells  -- either way the Angels are without a frontline pitcher.

Both the Angels and Astros are 5-5 in their last ten games. The Angels dropped two of three to the Orioles, while the Astros swept their three games with the birds. Most recently the Halos lost a series to the Rangers while Texas swept the Astros for the second time this season in their most recent set of games.

It's time for another chapter of Astros after dark, let's take a closer look.

Starting pitching

Friday: RHP Mike Fiers (3-2, 4.35 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (2-5, 6.81 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
Saturday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-6, 5.92 ERA, 1.59 WHIP) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (4-3, 5.33 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)
Sunday: RHP Doug Fister (4-3, 4.12 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) vs. RHP Nick Tropeano (3-2, 2.86 ERA, 1.47 WHIP

Mike Fiers has been serviceable for the Astros for much of the season. He has found another gear in May, he has pitched seven innings in two of his last three outings. He allowed just two runs over seven innings in his last start against the Rangers.

Fiers is 0-0 with a 3.95 in two career starts against the Angels. He allowed six runs on 10 hits and three walks over 13 2/3 innings, while striking out 11.Current Angels are batting .323 (10x31) against Fiers with a .286 BABIP, 10.20 FIP, 17.6 K%, and an 8.8 BB%.

Matt Shoemaker has been a pleasant surprise for the Angels over the past few season. But the honeymoon is over in 2016, he is 2-5 with a 6.81 ERA in eight starts. He did find the old spark against the Orioles. In his most recent start, he pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings and struck 12.

Shoemaker has struggled against the Astros in his career. He is 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in five career appearances (three starts).  Current Astros are batting .289 (13x45) against Shoemaker with a .367 BABIP, 4.08 FIP, 26.5 K%, and a 6.1 BB%.

Dallas Kuechel's struggle continue, he is 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA in five May starts. Keuchel is getting an extra day of rest before his Saturday start. He is 15-16 with a 3.68 ERA on five days rest.

Jered Weaver is the most crafty pitcher in baseball. He has a fastball that struggled to push the upper 80's but he finds ways to be effective. Weaver has pitched seven innings in each of his last two starts, allowing five earned runs total over both.

Doug Fister has been the Astros' best start in May. He is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in five May starts. Former Astros prospect Nick Tropeano has pitched his way into a regular spot in 2016. He was 1-0 with a 2.11 ERA in four April starts.

Relief pitching

The Astros bullpen was other-worldly against the O's this week. The bullpen gave up just one run over 15 innings and struck out 26 batters. Ken Giles has 2.61 ERA in 13 appearances in May with 13 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. Will Harris has given up just one run over his first 22 2/3 innings of work this season. The bullpen has been a well-oiled machine for Houston.

The Angels bullpen, on the other hand, only one relief pitcher hasn't given up a run over the past week -- Fernando Salas. Closer Joe Smith is one for two in save chances in the last seven days.

Lineup

George Springer has sprung in the leadoff spot. Springer is batting .368 (7x19) with two home runs and three RBIs in his last seven games.

Luis Valbuena has been even hotter, his batting .455 (5x11) with three home runs and five RBIs during that same time. On the flip side, Jose Altuve has been fighting with the BABIP gods. He is batting .048 (1x21) in his last five games.

Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar is batting .400 (8x20) in his last five games with two doubles and two RBIs. Kole Calhoun is batting .389 in his last 18 at-bats with two RBIs. Johnny Giavotella is batting .381 (8x21) with two doubles and two RBIs in his last five games.

Albert Pujols is batting .143 (3x21) with one home run and four RBIs in his last five games.

Prediction

Houston wins two of three behind Fiers and Fister.

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