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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks, June 1-2, 2016

Astros looks to make it four in a row against the D-Backs with two games in Houston.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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

There is no replacement for a team struggling to face a team struggling even more. That has been the case for the Astros facing the Diamondbacks. The Astros look like the team that was only a few outs away from eliminating the Royals from the playoffs over the past two games. Houston has outscored Arizona 16-8 over the past two games, posting eight runs in each of the games.

The game plan is the same for the nex two games: continue to square up D-Backs pitching and Astros starters need to keep the game close. That is frankly the gameplan for every baseball game but the Astros have used it to a tee over the past two games. The Astros have collected 25 hits over the past two games, while Colin McHugh and Lance McCullers have been stellar on the mound.

On to the other half the Astros-Diamondbacks home-and-home series:

Starting pitching

Wednesday: RHP Mike Fiers (3-3, 5.20 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. RHP Robbie Ray (2-4, 4.67 ERA, 1.67 WHIP)

Thursday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-6, 5.58 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (6-3, 4.71 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

The mantel of Astros weakest starting pitcher has bounced around a bit. At the moment, that title goes to Mike Fiers. Fiers is coming off his worst start of 2016. The Angels roughed him up for seven runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. Fiers has had a rough May, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.47 ERA in five games (four starts).

Fiers is 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks. Current D-Backs are batting .250 (6x24) aginst Fiers with a .333 BABIP, 5.37 FIP, 39.3 K%, and a 10.7 BB%.

Robbie Ray has pitched just 9 2/3 innings over his last two starts. He has allowed six runs on 12 hits in those starts. Ray is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in three career starts against the Astros.Current Astros are batting .375 (15x40) against Ray with a .519 BABIP, 2.34 FIP, 28.9 K%, and a 4.4 BB%.

The matchup between the two starters, Zack Greinke, and Dallas Keuchel, is a showcase of two struggling aces. The only difference is Keuchel hasn't been paid big money yet.

Relief pitching

The Astros bullpen has been well rested against the D-Backs. Colin McCugh pitched a complete game in game one. In game two, only Michael Feliz, Scott Feldman, and Luke Gregerson were used. Only Feldman gave earned runs. Will Harris, Pat Neshek, and Tony Sipp will be ready to use for the next two games.

On the other end of the specturm the Arizona bullpen has been heavly taxed. The D-Backs starters have only pitched 6 2/3 innings this series, requring the relievers to pick up the remaining 11 1/3 innings.

Lineup

George Springer continues to love the leadoff spot, he is 6-for-8 in the previous two games against Arizona with five RBIs. Jose Altuve is 4-for-10 and Carlos Correa is 3-for-6 over the past two games. Jake Marisnick has been getting playing time and has three hits against the D-Backs.

Paul Goldschmidt has four hits against Houston. Arizona has left 11 runners on base and gone 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The D-Backs are batting .209 (14x67) against the Astros thus far.

Prediction

Astros make it 3-for-4 against the Diamondbacks but the Fiers start goes in the loss column.

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