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Series Preview # 22: Houston Astros @ Oakland Athletics

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The Astros (42-25, 2nd in AL West) head to the West Coast for some late night baseball against the Athletics (34-32, 4th in AL West)

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Recency Bias

The Astros fly in to Oakland on a 5 game winning streak after splitting two with the Mariners and sweeping the unfortunate Rangers in 4 games. The offense did it by feasting on the back end of the Rangers rotation while employing a little bit of luck on the way out of town. Correa would sit out the Rangers series with a sore right side, but is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday. Altuve, Bregman, and Springer have all been mashing at the plate, with 16 RBI spread mostly evenly among all three. Bregman has been turning on the power, handing in 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 homers in the last 2 series. Meanwhile, Gattis, Gurriel and Marwin have begun to show up a little more reliably lately with some timely hitting, signalling good things for the offense. Stassi has had some pop, but has been mostly quiet recently, with only 2 H, 1 HR, 2 BB in his last 15 PA.

The bullpen has been going through some changes, but has turned in a respectable showing this last week, having stabilized somewhat since the Boston series. As a collective, they did not yield more than a single run in any of those games and have struck out 26 in 20.1 IP. Sipp continues to dazzle in 2018, making bilbos look good while earning himself some more high leverage innings. Rondon has also earned a promotion, with AJ slotting him in to the closer role in three strait outings and making Drake Greenwood look good. Speaking of Giles, his role is unclear moving forward, though he did throw a non save ninth in one game and retired 5 of 6 batters faced with 2 K’s in game 4 of the Rangers series. McHugh continues to impress in the long man role with Peacock also continuing a decent follow up to his breakout 2017.

Houston is now just half a game back in the West and will try to beat up on Oakland while the Mariners face a hot Angels team.

Meanwhile, the Athletics have managed to tread water in their most recent six games. They got mini swept by the Rangers before taking 3 out of 4 against the Royals. Kris Davis has been putting on a power show recently, crushing 4 home runs in his last 25 PA to go with 7 H and 2 BB, but has struck out 8 times as well. Matt Chapman has also been getting on base at a ridiculous clip with 7 H, 4 BB, and only 3 K’s in the last six games. Mark Canha has also been impressive in his 4 games started against the Rangers and KC, while Olson, Piscotty, and Lucroy have all been solid contributors. After that things have been a little cold for Oakland with Semien, Fowler, Lowrie, and Pinder all somewhat quiet in the recent matches. Lowrie especially has fallen off from his MVP pace to start the season, having only slashed .204/.282/.286 in the last 30 days.

The A’s pen has had some ups and downs recently, surrendering 7 runs in 6.2 IP against the Rangers before quieting the Royals by only allowing 1 run in 4 games. Yusmeiro Petit has seen more innings than anyone in Oakland’s pen and is a bit of a swiss army knife. He’ll appear in the middle to late innings and regularly goes 2+ IP, but gives up a run or two every few outings. Blake Treinan, Oakland’s closer and next most used reliever, has been lights out. He’ll also go multiple innings and has 14 saves with a 0.87 ERA and 10.45 K/9 in 2018. The third most reliable A’s reliever is Lou Trevino. Trevino took the first loss against the Rangers with 3 ER in 0.1 IP, but has only surrendered 2 other runs in 24.2 IP. He does give up walks more than the A’s would like, but has done quite well as a weapon out of the pen. Beyond that, Coulombe and Hatcher have been having a good month while Pagan has kept runs off the board in his last 8.1 IP.

Oakland will look to play spoiler as they fight to ruin the Astros’ attempt to claim sole possession of first in the AL West.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Lance McCullers Jr., RHP (7-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Daniel Mengden, RHP (6-5, 3.45 ERA)

Lance turned in a decent effort in his last start, going 6 IP and giving up 4 R (3 earned) against Seattle. He would get bit twice for a couple of home runs during the game, but has been stingy with the long ball for the most part this season. He’s faced Oakland twice this season, a 5 IP 2 ER performance where he was not his sharpest, and a 7 IP 0 ER 7 K gem to end April. Since that game, however, Lance has been having control issues, with a 3.70 BB/9 to go with a 6.97 K/9.

The A’s counter with Daniel Mengden, who will enter this game after the worst start of his season since the first time he faced Houston. Mengden got rocked for 6 ER in 4.0 IP including 4 HR and 3 BB and K’s. Before that he had been putting together a string of good to excellent outings, including a CG shutout against Arizona. His two starts against Houston were mixed, with a 2.1 IP 4 ER drubbing and a 6.2 IP 2 ER performance. Mengden has been mostly good on the season, but Houston has been able to get to him early in the past.

Both pitchers have had similar years with good starts marred by the occasional clunker, so I’m going to call this one even.

Game 2: Gerrit Cole, RHP (7-1, 2.16 ERA) vs. Paul Blackburn, RHP (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

Cole had another strong, strikeout heavy performance in his last start against the Rangers, only giving up 1 ER on 3 H in 6.0 IP. He would walk 3 on the night, but was able to hold down Arlington quite easily. Cole has seen Oakland twice, giving up just 4 ER in 12.2 IP while striking out 21 Athletics. Cole’s numbers have been stabilizing somewhat recently, suggesting that he might be able to sustain his string of good outings into the future.

Blackburn made his 2018 debut last week against the Royals after spending the first two months of the season on the DL. He had some success in his rookie year for the A’s last season where he made 10 starts, but also struggled at points, and has a deceptively low ERA due to a number of unearned runs. He did play well against the Royals in his debut, only allowing a single ER off a homer and two other hits over 6.0 IP.

Cole should have the advantage over Blackburn as the Astros’ lineup should be a little more challenging than Kansas City’s.

Game 3: Justin Verlander, RHP (8-2, 1.45 ERA) vs. Frankie Montas, RHP (3-0, 1.25 ERA)

Verlander had another strong start in his last outing against the Rangers. He would go 6.0 IP and give up 3 ER thanks in part to some shoddy umpiring, but ultimately kept his season rolling along quite well. It was only the second time he’s given up more than 2 ER this year, and has yet to surrender more than 3. Verlander will be facing Oakland for the first time this year, but should be more than up to the task as he has shown against a variety of teams in 2018.

Montas spent last season pitching out of the A’s bullpen to disastrous results. His fastball was too straight and hittable and his slider couldn’t find the zone, resulting in both an ERA and FIP north of 7. However, he has been impressive in 2018 during his first 3 games as a starter. He had 8 shutout innings against the Royals and then a 7.2 IP rematch of 2 run ball in his next start. He also kept the D-backs to 1 ER over 6.0 IP with 7 K in his debut. He has had an abnormally low BABIP though and his 3.11 FIP suggests that hits may start finding grass.

Verlander should be able to have his way with the A’s and take the advantage here.

Fun Fact

After this series Charlie Morton will be the only Astros starter who has not faced the A’s in 2018, and has only faced them twice in his 199 starts.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, June 12th @ 9:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Athletics - 95.7 FM The Game, KIQI 1010
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Athletics - NBCSCA / MLB.TV

Game 2: Wednesday, June 13th @ 9:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Athletics - 95.7 FM The Game, KIQI 1010
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Athletics - NBCSCA / MLB>TV

Game 3: Thursday, June 14th @ 2:35 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Athletics - 95.7 FM The Game
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (82 votes)
  • 50%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (99 votes)
  • 4%
    Athletics Win 2-1
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    Athletics Sweep 3-0
    (5 votes)
195 votes total Vote Now