Houston Astros (61-58), vs. St. Louis Cardinals (63-56), Tuesday, August 17th, 2016, Minute Maid Park, 1.10 PM CT
Doug Fister, RHP (11-7, 3.61 ERA, 4.50 FIP) vs. Carlos Martinez, RHP (10-7, 3.34 ERA, 33.84 FIP).
Ah yes, the St. Louis Cardinals are back in Houston. Last night, Astros old-timers Lance Berkman (was never a Cardinal, not sure what you're talking about) and Craig Biggio watched pregame batting practice. Adam "should have won eight Gold Gloves" Everett made an appearance in the radio booth. And of course, former Chroncile - turned STL Post-Dispatch writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz was stirring the pot between the former division rivals like no one else could.
Is this even a question?
Okay, this one's better and actually an excellent discussion topic. My five: Bob Gibson, Dizzy Dean's ghost, prime J.R. Richard, Nolan Ryan and Roy Oswalt. Discussion expands to Clemens and Johnson if we can add players with shorter time at each club.
To be real, it's actually nice to face the Cardinals again. Every Astros - Cardinals game I attended when both were division rivals seemed to be decided by one or two runs. There were the dramatic playoff series' in 2004 and 2005, as well as a number of hotly contested regular season games. Baseball is better when the Astros play the Cardinals, plain and simple.
On the mound for the Astros, this afternoon is Doug Fister, who is somehow the only player with fortunate peripherals that haven't come back down to Earth yet. Sure, the 3.61 ERA looks good and there're no means to bump him from the rotation - he's done his job and kept the team in games. But his FIP is 4.50 (bad) and his xFIP is 4.76 (yikes). A low BABIP of .273 is also helping his case.
The Cardinals counter with 24-year old Carlos Martinez, who's pitching for his third year as a Cardinal. Martinez has been pretty fantastic the last two years - known as a power guy (he's averaged 97 mph on his four-seamers per Brooks Baseball this year), he's also shown the ability to churn innings. He made 29 starts last season and is on pace to do the same in 2016 with solid results. His strikeout rate is down to just over 7.0 per nine this season and his walk rate is up, so peripherals don't like him quite as much.
First five for Houston stay the same as last night, and Castro gets the predictable "Hinch bump" to the seven spot after homering in each of his last two games. Teoscar Hernandez gets his fifth straight start.
St. Louis adds Kolton Wong and Jeremy Hazelbaker to the starting lineup. The Astros broadcast mentioned the Cards' uncharacteristically bad defense on the season last night- Fangraphs defensive runs saved has them at a +12, good for 11th in the league, though UZR isn't a fan (27th). We'll see if the Astros can add on to a better night offensively last night and get a needed win today.