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Series Preview #36: Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Dodgers

The Astros (69-41, 1st in AL West) return to the scene of the crime as they play three against the Dodgers (61-49, 1st in NL West)

World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Recency Bias


Houston touches down in LA after a reversal of fortunes in Seattle following a 5-game losing streak, their longest since 2015. They would still pull out a series win with a couple of big offensive nights that were most welcome after almost a week of lackluster play. Gattis in particular has been a beast at the plate in the last two series, slashing .417/.462/.750 with 2 BB, 2 2B, and 2 HR in 24 ABs. Stassi has also had himself a fine week with a .973 OPS to go with a home run and a double in 4 games. Tyler White would impress this week in 3 games with 5 hits, 1 BB, and 1 HR in 11 ABs. Bregman and Kemp have both been getting on base at about a .300 clip with Bregman sporting a .708 OPS this week. That matches Marwin, but mostly thanks to a couple of bombs he mashed in one of the Seattle games. Springer has also continued to show life at the plate as well, though he would miss the final game against the Mariners after tweaking his shoulder in a diving catch. Reddick, Davis, and Gurriel would all have a good final game in Seattle, but had previously been struggling at the plate.

As for the bullpen, after showering off an ugly series against the 5th place Rangers the group would turn around and have a scoreless showing against the 2nd place Mariners. Baseball. Harris, McHugh, Peacock, and Sipp have all done the heavy lifting out of the pen this week. Only Peacock has allowed runs of those three, though Sipp would allow some of Devo’s inherited runs to score in one of his outings. Smith also held opponents scoreless this week, but only appeared in a single innings across two games, retiring all three batters with a couple of K’s. Aside from a home run given up to the first batter he faced, Pressly has also looked good in 2.1 IP this week. Rondón would lay an egg with 4 ER in one inning against the Rangers and then pick up a save with a perfect inning against Seattle. Devo would not appear in the Mariners series after 3 of his last 4 outings completely fell apart. It was culminated with a 5 ER appearance (some surrendered by Sipp as previously mentioned) where he did not record an out.

Houston will try to open up a lead larger than 5 games in the division for the first time in a while, though they may well find a resurgent Dodgers team a big challenge.


The Dodgers are also in the midst of a reversal of fortunes, but theirs is much bigger than Houston’s. After starting the season in dismal fashion and looking like a bust, LA has managed to claw themselves back in the race and now sit atop the NL West by 1 game. They won a four game set against Atlanta and just finished a series split against the Brewers. The Dodgers’ offense has been a little more potent than the Astros’ recently, with Yasmani Grandal having the most sustained success over the past week, slashing .238/.360/.667 with 3 home runs. Recent acquisitions Brian Dozier and Many Machado have held up their end of the bargain in small sampled, especially Dozier who has homered in each of his first two games as a Dodger. Beyond that the bats have been quiet for LA his week, with Puig hitting a .725 OPS being the highlight. Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, and Max Muncy have all been good on the year though, as has Justin Turner, who was just activated from the DL to swap with Chase Utley.

As for the pen, after a rocky start to the year. the Dodgers’ bullpen has seen much improvement as well. Kenley Jansen in particular has turned the page from a bad start on the season, and is now sporting a 2.24 ERA with 30 saves on the year. Erik Goeddel and Dylan Floro (a recent trade acquisition from the Reds) have both been big arms for the Dodgers pen, rounding out the trio of relievers with ERAs under 3 and more than 35 IP. Caleb Ferguson, Pedro Báez, JT Chargois, and Scott Alexander all have ERAs in the range of 3.46 to 3.51. All of them have become decent arms out of the pen for LA, though Ferguson only just recently made his MLB debut and has been back and forth to AAA since then. Daniel Hudson rounds out the bullpen for LA with a deceptive 4.10 ERA on the year. Though he has had some bad outings since, a majority of the number comes from some big losses early in 2018.

The Dodgers are in a position to try and start establishing themselves as leaders in the NL West again and will look for that plus some revenge against their 2017 WS rivals.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Justin Verlander, RHP (10-6, 2.24 ERA) vs. Alex Wood, LHP (7-5, 3.68 ERA)

Excluding Verlander’s weird clunker against the Tigers, Justin has had a decent run of late after hitting a small rough patch. He would grind through 5 innings against the Rangers his last time out, but would keep them to 2 ER. Verlander was the only Astros pitcher to start two games at Dodgers Stadium, where he would surrender 5 runs in two 6 inning appearances. Though JV is still outpacing his FIP and xFIP, strong strikeout and walk rates should help against regression.

Wood has been having a good season for the Dodgers and is currently on a run of 9 straight starts where he hasn’t allowed more then 3 ER. He would struggle in one of those games, failing to complete the fifth inning, but would qualify in the others. He had 5.2 shutout innings in his most recent start against the Braves, but would walk 4 in that game. His walks have been up lately, but his peripherals don’t suggest he’s outperforming his numbers.

Verlander has looked to be returning to form lately and should be able to pour some cold water on the Dodgers’ bats.

Game 2: Lance McCullers Jr., RHP (10-6, 4.06 ERA) vs. Kenta Maeda, RHP (7-6, 3.48 ERA)

Lance came into his last start after two games where he would give up 6 and then 5 ER while failing to get out of the 5th inning. He would do better in his last start, going 5.1 innings while giving up just 4 runs, 3 earned, and would strike out 11 Rangers. He did not avail himself well in his Game 7 start against LA in the WS, but he was an RBI machine at least. Lance’s ERA has ballooned lately, but FIP shows that he is probably due for some positive regression.

Kenta Maeda has quietly put together a decent season for LA, though his most recent start was somewhat discouraging. Maeda gave up 4 ER and 7 hits in 4.2 innings during that outing, with 3 walks and only 4 K’s. When the Astros last saw him he was pitching out of the pen and having a pretty good postseaon run for the Dodgers. Some of his peripherals suggest that he may be running into a bit of bad luck with his ERA, so we can expect positive regression from him as well.

Hard to say who would have an advantage here as both pitchers have had ups and downs this year.

Game 3: Gerrit Cole, RHP (10-3. 2.55 ERA) vs. Walker Buehler, RHP (4-4, 3.65 ERA)

It will be new player against new player as Cole takes the mound for final game. Gerrit would have an excellent night in Seattle, going 6.2 innings of 2 run ball. His high strikeout numbers have been on display all season and he has been managing to limit the long ball in recent games. Cole’s FIP is about aligned with his ERA, so we should be able to look forward to continued success.

The Dodgers counter with Walker Buehler, who has been making a name for himself at the MLB level this year. Buehler was the starter for a combined no-hitter the Dodgers threw earlier this season, going 6 dominant innings in that game. He would go 7 strong innings his last time out, surrendering only 1 run and striking out 7. The start before that was not as kind, getting tagged by the Phillies for 5 runs in 4.2 IP. Numbers-wise, it looks like he may be having some bad luck this year, but his BABIP is actually a little low as well as .283.

Cole has definitely been out-pitching Buehler this season, but Buehler could certainly pose a challenge in his first time against the Astros.

The Funnest Fact of All

The last time the Astros were at Dodgers Stadium they won the World Series.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, August 3rd @ 9:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Dodgers - AM 570 LA Sports, KTNQ 1020
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Dodgers - SportsNet LA, SNLA Spanish / MLB.TV

Game 2: Saturday, August 4th @ 8:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Dodgers - AM 570 LA Sports, KTNQ 1020
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Dodgers - SportsNet LA, SNLA Spanish / MLB.TV

Game 3: Sunday, August 5th @ 3:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Dodgers - AM 570 LA Sports, KTNQ 1020
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Dodgers - SportsNet LA, SNLA Spanish / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (36 votes)
  • 56%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (146 votes)
  • 25%
    Dodgers Win 2-1
    (65 votes)
  • 5%
    Dodgers Sweep 3-0
    (13 votes)
260 votes total Vote Now