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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks, May 30-31, 2016

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Astros play two games in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (22-29) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (23-29), May 30-31, 2016

The Houston Astros are 7-5 over the last two weeks of May. Over the past week, the team has gone 5-1. Both records are a far cry from the dismal start to the season in April. The Astros have begun to move in the right direction.

The reason for the move in the right direction has been the pitching staff plain and simple. In May thus far, the staff has the fifth-best ERA in the American League (3.88). The Astros lead the league in strikeouts (236) and are tied for fourth in batting average against (.244).

The likes of Will Harris and Doug Fister have led the way for the Astros on the mound. Harris has allowed just one earned run over his first 22 2/3 innings this season out of the pen.

The Astros and Diamondbacks will play once-a-year weird home and home series. This preview could have been easily for the four games, but please allow look the two games each as separate series so I can enjoy Memorial Day.

Starting pitching

Monday: RHP Collin McHugh (4-4, 5.13 ERA, 1.59 WHIP) vs. LHP Edwin Escobar (0-0, 4.50 ERA, 0.50 WHIP)
Tuesday: RHP Lance McCullers (1-1, 4.60 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (2-4, 4.21 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

The Astros have a nice pair of pitchers going in Arizona to start the series. First up will be Collin McHugh, followed by Lance McCullers.

McHugh has found his way back after a disastrous start to 2016, he was 2-3 with a 6.65 ERA in five April starts. He has allowed just five runs over his last 12 1/3 innings. The Orioles got McHugh's pitch count up to 101 pitches after 5 1/3 innings in his last start. But McHugh made the most of his outing, striking out 10.

McHugh is 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks. He is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in one career start at Chase Field.

Current D-Backs are batting .302 (16x53) against McHugh with a .356 BABIP, 2.37 FIP, 14.5 K%, and a 3.6 BB%.

Countering McHugh for Arizona is Edwin Escobar. Escobar was called up from Triple-A Reno to make his first major league start. In Triple-A, he was 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in eight appearances (six starts) in 2016.

Lance McCulllers looks to build on his last two good outings in the desert. He has allowed just three runs over his last 11 innings. Patrick Corbin goes for the D-Backs in game two. He has thrown three quality starts in may out his five total outings. His last start was not a quality one, he allowed four earned runs over 5 2/3 against the Pirates.

Relief pitching

The Astros bullpen has been lights out over the last two weeks. MLB.com ranked it the bullpen of the week The Astros bullpen allowed just four earned runs on 20 hits over 28 1/3 innings last week -- while walking 12 and striking out 52.

The Diamondbacks bullpen has pitched 18 innings over the team's last seven games. Arizona has allowed 16 earned runs during that team on 31 hits including eight home runs.

Lineup

George Springer has been lighting the world on fire in the leadoff spot. He is batting .370 (10x2&0 with two doubles and two home runs, and three RBIs. Luis Valbuena has kept his job with his bat over the past week. He is batting .400 (8x20) with three home runs and six RBIs. Carlos Correa is batting .182 over his last six games (4x22), probably the reason he got some rest on Sunday.

Paul Goldschmidt is continued be MVP-like, he is batting .350 (7x20) with two doubles, a home run, and six RBIs. Chris Owings is batting .318 (7x22) with four double and a home run.

Prediction

The Astros win both games in Arizona.

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