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Series Preview #28: Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers

The Astros (55-31, 1st in AL West) head to Arlington for an Independence Day two-step against the Rangers (38-47, 5th in AL West)

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Recency Bias


The Astros arrive back in Texas after stumbling through three straight losses, losing their first series in a month, which was also right before the last time they lost 3 in a row. After chugging along for most of June the offense would sputter in Tampa Bay, which has been a pattern for the Astros for some time. Bregman didn’t get the memo though, as he would continue his hot streak while nabbing AL Player of the Week and Month honors. He has slashed .464/.516/1.179 over the last week with 5 doubles, 5 home runs, and 3 walks. Another bright spot at the plate has been Jake, who has made steps towards redemption recently. In the last two series he has a .450 OBP in 19 PAs, including 2 home runs and 3 walks. Gattis has also continued to wrack up the RBIs, finding timely hits or simply muscling the ball out of the park. Beyond that only Altuve and Kemp have been getting on base at a good clip, though White and Stassi have both done well in limited at bats. Springer and McCann have both been cold lately, with Springer especially off his game and in a 1 for 23 slump with no walks right now.

Meanwhile, the bullpen has been mostly good in the last week except for a couple of smudges. The only relievers to surrender runs have been Peacock, who would surrender the one that mattered in the finale in Tampa, and Harris, who gave up a two run shot to Randal Grichuk in Tuesday’s game against Toronto. Peacock has been on a roll even with that homer, having struck out 8 batters in the last 3.2 IP. Devo also deserves a mention here, as he would allow the two runs on Morton’s ledger from his last start, but has not given up a run of his own. He also had a shaky outing the night before, but was able to wiggle out of trouble with some BABIP luck. Rondon would convert the one save opportunity afforded this week, but otherwise the relief outings have been uneventful with no surrendered runs. Length from the starters coupled with general success out of the pen has allowed AJ to continue to spread innings evenly, which should pay dividends down the stretch and into October.

The Astros will have to try for a quick turnaround as Seattle has been feasting on last place teams again and is now only a half game back in the division.


The Rangers have reversed their fortunes since the last time Houston saw them and are winners of 11 of their last 14. They haven’t won a series against a team at or above .500 during that time, but have beat up on teams with better records. The last couple of series have seen a bit of an offensive outburst from the Rangers, especially the most recent one against the White Sox, where they plated 29 in three games. Chirinos, Rua, Gallo, and Odor all have two home runs in the last week and with make up the four Rangers players with an OPS over 1.100 in that time. Odor especially has seemed to kick it up a level this week, going 7-for-19 with 3 walks and 2 stolen bases. Shin Soo Choo has also been an on base machine, currently riding a 42 game streak in that department, and just had a 12 game hitting streak snapped. Mazara and Profar have been money for the Rangers, and immortal mummy Adrian Beltre continues to fend off the clock. Beyond that the Rangers have not had a whole lot happening at the plate this week, though DeShields continues to be a threat on the base paths when he gets on.

The bullpen for the Rangers has been having mixed results recently, with some pitchers in the last week holding the line while others have been less than reliable. Jesse Chavez has been holding steady for the Rangers in long relief this season after converting from a starter. He will usually appear once in each series and go at least a couple of innings, though he has gone as many as 5. Jose LeClerc has continued with an excellent season of his own, having only allowed 3 walks and no hits in his last 5.2 IP. Tony Barnette has been a weapon out of the pen for the Rangers, with a 0.87 ERA in the month of June, though he only appeared in 10.1 innings. Keone Kela has continued his success in the Rangers’ closing role. A majority of his ERA comes from two appearances where he gave up 3 and 4 runs to Seattle and Cleveland, respectively. He will surrender the occasional run, but he’s just as likely to come out and throw a perfect inning. After that the biggest story in the bullpen is Matt Moore, who was recently shifted to the pen after an absolutely terrible start to 2018. His woes have continued, though, as he’s given up 5 runs in 7.1 relief innings.

The Rangers will look to at least generate excitement and continue their recent hot streak as they march on in their lost season.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Dallas Keuchel, LHP (4-8, 4.22 ERA) vs. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, RHP (1-1, 3.57 ERA)

Dallas stumbled hard against Toronto in the first inning of his last start, giving up 5 ER on 4 hits including 2 doubles, 2 walks, and 2 sac flies. The 1st inning has been a bugaboo for Dallas, where he now sports a bloated 9.53 ERA. His last appearance against the Rangers was not much better, as they would bleed him 6 runs, 5 earned, in 4.1 IP, his second shortest outing of the season. Keuchel’s peripherals suggest that some of his luck has been turning on him with ground balls lately, but there is room for positive regression.

The Rangers will counter with Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who I will be referring to as ABD from here on out. ABD has spent a majority of his career bouncing around in the minors since 2006, but made his major league debut for the Rangers last season. His 2017 was pretty unspectacular, and he has had mixed results this season after taking over Matt Moore’s spot in the rotation. ABD would get slapped around for 6 runs, 4 earned, in each of his first two games, though 2 of those were allowed by the pen. He did do well in his last two starts, however, only allowing 1 ER even though he did also walk 4 in 5 IP against the Padres.

With Keuchel’s recent struggles it’s hard to say who could win this game, but if he can find the command he had against the Royals...

Game 2: Lance McCullers Jr., RHP (9-3, 3.55 ERA) vs. Mike Minor, LHP (6-4, 4.64 ERA)

Lance gets the 4th of July start after his best outing since May 20th. He would spin 7 shutout innings against the Rays while striking out 7 and scattering 5 base runners. This extended a string of quality outings for Lance to 6 going all the way back to his meltdown in Cleveland. LMJ faced the Rangers in his first start of the season, where he would go 5.1 IP, but only gave up 2 ER. His FIP and ERA are exactly aligned at 3.55, and his BABIP is trending closer to league average, so negative regression shouldn’t be much of a concern.

Mike Minor will make his start after his best game of the season, where he threw 7 innings of one hit shutout ball against the Padres. His numbers have been trending better recently, but his season overall has been somewhat uninspired. He did turn in a respectable outing against Houston at the beginning of June where he would go 6 innings and only give up 3 runs, but did get worked over the first couple of times he faced them in April. Minor has some room for improvement according to his numbers, but he should be hittable for Astros batters.

Whoever loves America more will win this game. I think we all know who that is.

Fun Facts

The Astros have won the Silver Boot after 14 games, which is the fastest season series win over the Rangers since Houston switched to the AL in 2013.

The second fastest AL Silver Boot victory was in 15 games during 2014.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, July 3rd @ 7:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - FSSW / MLB.TV

Game 2: Wednesday, July 4th @ 6:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFZO 99.1
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - FSSW / MLB.TV


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (66 votes)
  • 30%
    Series Split 1-1
    (30 votes)
  • 4%
    Rangers Sweep 2-0
    (4 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now