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Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels, June 20-22, 2016

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Astros back in action in the AL West.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston Astros (34-36) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (31-38), June 20-22, 2016

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels are two teams at the crossroad at two different stages. The Astros aren't sure if they are a competitive team in 2016. The Angels aren't sure if they are a competitive team period. Should the Astros keep plugging along and keep assets like Colby Rasmus or Doug Fister, or trade them at the deadline? Should the Angels pull the rip cord on the current roster including Mike Trout? These three games will help push either further down the road towards an ultimate decision on this season.

The Astros are improving on their AL West record at 10-16 thus far in 2016. The Astros are 2-1 thus far against the Angels this season. Houston will not have to face Jared Weaver during this series, so that can only be a positive. The Astros are 19-15 at home and 15-21 on the road.

Can the Astros be over .500 after this series? We shall see:

Starting pitching

Monday: RHP Doug Fister (7-3, 3.26 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (3-4, 5.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Tuesday: RHP Collin McHugh (5-5, 4.89 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) vs. LHP Hector Santago (4-4, 5.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Wedesday: RHP Lance McCullers (3-2, 4.24 ERA, 1.69 WHIP) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)

Doug Fister is building a case as Jeff Luhnow's top free agent signing during time with the Astros. Fister started slow with a 1-3 record with a 5.56 ERA in four April starts. But he found his stride in May and June. In June, he is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in three June starts. The Astros are going for their 10th straight win with Fister on the mound.

Fister has been worse at home with a 2-1 record with a 3.82 ERA in five home starts and a 5-2 record with a 2.92 ERA in eights starts on the road. Fister is 2-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 career starts against the Angels. In his one start against Los Angeles this season, he allowed one earned run over six innings on five hits.

Current Angels are batting .247 (21x85) against Fister with a .302 BABIP, 3.67 FIP, 21.3 K%, and an 8.5 BB%.

The Angels traded for Jhoulys Chacin from the Atlanta Braves on May 11, 2016, for Adam McCreery.Chacin starts with the Rockies for the first six seasons of his major league career and splits time between Triple-A and the Diamondbacks in 2015.

Chacin was a minor league free agent signing before Spring Training with the Braves and is now a regular arm in the rotation for the Angels -- I don't this fact as a positive necessarily. He has shown promise (9 IP, 1 ER vs. Tigers) and dismal (4 1/3 IP, 4 ER vs. Dodgers). In June, he has allowed 12 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He allowed four runs over five innings on seven hits against the Twins in his last year.

Chacin is 1-1 with a with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against the Astros. Current Astros are batting .306 (11x36) against Chacin with a .290 BABIP, 6.04 FIP, 8.1 K%, and a 2.7 BB%.

Collin McHugh is looking for his fifth quality start in his last seven outings. But McHugh's two non-quality starts have come in June. In McHugh's last start, June 15 against the Cardinals, he allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings. Hector Santago had his best start of 2016 in his last outing, giving up one run on two hits over six innings against the Twins. But Santago has struggled overall, he is 2-2 with a 6.97 ERA in his last seven starts.

Lance McCullers has been strong at home this season, he is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in four home starts this season. Matt Shoemaker has had a tough luck June. He is 0-2 with a 2.20 ERA in four June starts.

Lineup

Want to guess who has been arguably the best batter over the past week for the Houston Astros? It's Carlos Gomez. Gomez batted .429 (9x21) with one double, three runs scored and four RBIs in his last five games. Marwin Gonzalez has been solid at first base with Tyler White sent down, he is batting .333 (6x18) with a double and a home run in his last five games.

Evan Gattis may have found his way out of his slump, he has two home run his last 16 at-bats. George Springer (4x22) and Jason Castro (2x11) have struggled this week, both are batting .182 over the team's last five games.

Johnny Giavotella has hit the cover off the ball for the Angels this past week. He is batting .440 (11x25) with two doubles and three home runs over the last six games. C.J. Cron is batting .429 (6x14) with two doubles and three RBIs in his last six games. Yunel Escobar is batting .318 (7x22) with two doubles, four runs scored, and three RBIs.

Mike Trout is batting .227 (5x22) with two doubles and three RBIs. Albert Pujols is batting .240 (6x25) with zero extra-base hits and three RBIs in his last six games.

Prediction

The Astros take two of three from the Angels. I'm going go in on Carlos Gomez having a good series.

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