Houston Astros (11-5) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (9-8), April 21, 2017, 6:10 PM CDT
Radio: KBME 790 AM, La Nueva 94.1 FM
Rays SBNation Blog: D Rays Bay
RHP Mike Fiers (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
The Tampa Bay Rays have taken advantage of their early home schedule, winning eight of ten games at Tropicana field. On the flip side, the Astros have looked good on the road playing to a 4-1 road record in the early going. The Astros have done more than win on the road though, as after getting shutout by James Paxton in their first road game of the year they have gone on to score 34 runs over the next four. That puts the Astros at 6.8 runs per game away from Minute Maid Park.
Another big offensive outburst is probably going to be needed too, as the Astros will be trotting out the back half of their rotation in the series starting with Mike Fiers on Friday. Through ten innings, Fiers has pitched to a 5.40 ERA thanks predominantly to giving up five runs over four innings in his last start at Seattle. The underlying numbers are a mixed bag at this point and don’t really provide much hope, as Fiers sports a 6.41 FIP and 4.25 xFIP.
Taking the mound for Tampa Friday will be Alex Cobb. Cobb opened the year with a strong home start against the New York Yankees allowing one run over 5 2⁄3 innings. Since then, Cobb has started two road games facing the Yankees again and the Boston Red Sox. After giving up four earned runs in each road start, Cobb’s ERA has ballooned to 4.50. Rays fans will be hoping that a return home for Cobb will mean a return to form, but let’s hope his recent road starts are a sign of what to expect against a complete Astros lineup.
Matchup to Watch
Brian McCann is one of only a handful of Astros regulars to have faced Cobb. Thanks to his time spent in the AL East, McCann has 14 plate appearances against the righty and has enjoyed immense success. Through his 14 chances, McCann has six hits, two walks and two home runs for a slash line of .500/.571/1.000.