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Series Preview #51: Houston Astros @ Toronto Blue Jays

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The Astros (98-57, 1st in AL West) head north for a friendly three game series against the Blue Jays (71-85, 4th in AL East)

MLB: Houston Astros at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Recency Bias

Astros

Houston arrives in Toronto after a successful 6-3 home stand where they would sandwich a tough loss against Seattle between a solid win against Arizona and a sweep of the Angels. The series against the Angels in particular would see Houston find its power stroke as the Astros womped them for 11, 10, and 6 runs in a three game sweep.

Yuli Gurriel would lead the way this week, bolstered by one of his hottest series in an Astros uniform against the Angels. He would go off on LA with an 8-for-14 line and an incredible 7 RBI in one game while launching three bombs. His whole week was ridiculous though with a .462/.462/.923 slash line in 6 games. Marwin has also been on a tear this week, getting on base at a .500 clip with 1 HR, 2 2B, and 5 BB in 19 AB.

Altuve has begun to really round back into pre-injury form as you regularly see him taking more often in an effort to see better pitches to hit. He has a .423 OBP with a .400 SLG this week that includes a monster 2-run blast against LA. Gattis would also have a good series against the halos and is starting to see a few more plate appearances as Hinch looks to get him into playoff form.

Springer would have the best week of anyone else in the lineup though it really wasn’t anything to write home about. George is still suffering from nagging thumb and quad soreness according to Hinch, but has been playing through it. After that no one with more than 10 AB would contribute in a meaningful fashion this week, though Reddick, McCann and White would do well in limited service and deliver some clutch RBI when called upon.

As for the pen, this week has been mostly business for Houston’s regulars except for a couple of poor outings by Rondón and Smith. Rondón has been struggling lately but with meltdowns in back to back series he may be headed for some more low leverage situations in the next series. Smith came as more of a surprise though considering how good he’s been for several months now, but a poor outing is to be expected from time to time.

Peacock would also give up a run across a couple of innings this week, but the only other relievers with blemishes on their ledgers this week are September call ups Dan Deetz and Cionel Pérez who would both pitch in a lost game to the Mariners after a long period of off time.

After that the rest of the pen has had mostly clean, efficient innings this week. This has allowed Hinch to spread work around a little bit even as Houston has tried to stay ahead of the A’s. No one would pitch 3 innings across the 6 games this week, with McHugh doing the most work at 2.2 IP.

With a magic number of 3 Houston will look to take care of business and wrap up the division before the final series in Baltimore.

Blue Jays

Toronto will welcome the Astros to the Rogers Centre after a rather pedestrian 10-13 month where they’ve managed to tread water as their season circles the drain. They are coming off of a 4 game split with the Rays and a series win in Baltimore. They would go a little back and forth with the offense in the Rays series, but have had a good showing this week.

A good portion of that offense has been off the bats of Rowdy Tellez and Aledmys Díaz, who are each sporting a 1.000 OPS in 6 and 7 games this week, respectively. Tellez has been a revelation for the Jays, teeing off on opposing pitching since making his MLB debut this past September 5th. Originally drafted in the 30th round of 2013, he is slashing .373/.385/.725 in 51 AB and making a case as Toronto’s everyday 1B / DH.

After that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Kevin Pillar have probably been the most effective parts of the lineup with significant AB, but Danny Jansen has managed to make noise in his 12 PA across 6 games. Power would fall off from there for Toronto this week, although Urena and McGuire would both manage to at least get on base at a respectable rate.

In spite of a cold week, Justin Smoak remains a force at the plate and one of the better Blue Jays to receive regular AB this season. Kendrys Morales, Randal Grichuck, and old friend Teoscar Hernández have all had decent years as well in spite of recent ineffectiveness at the plate.

The Blue Jay’s pen is filled with mostly decent arms and a few unsightly ones, but no real standouts. Tim Mayza has probably had the most success with no runs on his line dating all the way back to August 25th. Ryan Tepera and Astros regular season legend Tyler Clippard both see regular work on the mound for Toronto and each own an ERA at or around 3.75 in 60+ IP this year.

Jake Petricka has also seen a good chunk of the relief innings for Toronto this season but with an ERA right at 4.75 he hasn’t exactly been scary doing it. Ken Giles, a former Astro that I’m sure no one remembers, has had a scoreless September, but has also continued his weird trend of falling apart in non-save opportunities while being lights out with the game on the line.

Joe Biagini and Danny Barnes are the final two pitchers who spent a majority of the season with the Jays at the MLB level, and both have surrendered an inordinate amount of runs, mostly showing up to eat innings where needed. Like other teams the Jays have September call ups, but without significant time on the mound it’s hard to gauge where each one sits.

The Blue Jays may be stumbling to the offseason but there are still some hungry young players trying to prove themselves to the team, so there will be some motivation beyond hollow wins.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Dallas Keuchel, LHP (11-11, 3.71 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada, RHP (7-13, 5.57 ERA)

Dallas will look for a bounce back outing after taking an ugly loss against the Mariners his last time out where he would give up 5 ER in 5 IP. It marked the third time since August 18th that Dallas has surrendered at least 5 runs in a game, though he has been solid in his other starts. He would also get rocked the last time he faced Toronto as they would chase him after 5.1 innings after tagging him with 6 ER.

Estrada takes the mound for Toronto near the end of a disappointing season that saw him take a step back after two fantastic season as a finesse pitcher. That has not been the case this season as he has been getting hammered by opposing offenses, though he would have a rare excellent start against Baltimore his last time out. Estrada would give up 4 runs, 3 earned, in just 5 innings the last time he faced Houston, which is about average for him this year.

Estrada hasn’t exactly been dominating on the mound so I can see Dallas with an edge here if Good Keuchel shows up.

Game 2: Josh James, RHP (1-0, 2.81 ERA) vs. Sam Gaviglio, RHP (3-8, 5.18 ERA)

James enters this game after an excellent start against Seattle where he would spread 4 hits and 7 K’s across 5.1 innings. It was just his 4th appearance and only his second start as James continues to impress with his poise and overpowering stuff. He also continues to show why he was so highly valued in the system while making a push for a postseason spot.

Gaviglio would have a decent outing this last time out against the Rays after a string of tough starts where he would either give up a lot of runs or exit the game early. He’s had issues with going deep into his starts all season, failing to get into the 5th inning in a little more than half of his appearances. This will be the third time he’s ever faced Houston and the first time he’s seen them this season.

James is still unproven so hard to say he has the advantage, but Gaviglio’s numbers certainly shouldn’t inspire confidence for Toronto.

Game 3: TBD vs. TBD

Niether team has announced a starter for this game. Framber had been the original pitcher slotted for this game but after throwing 6 excellent innings in yesterday’s finale it is very unlikely he’ll be in this game. This is normally Cole’s spot in the order but if Hinch was dedicated to resting him, especially if Houston has clinched by this point, it’s quite possible Cionel Pérez or another bullpen piece makes a spot start.

As for Toronto, this spot in the rotation was previously occupied by Sean Reid-Foley, who debuted for Toronto just this season back in August. He would get lit up for 4 runs, 2 earned, in 4 IP his last time out, which is not so unusual for him. It is unclear if Toronto is maybe looking for a spot start elsewhere or some other reason why the Jays have yet to announce a starter.

With the starters up in the air hard to see who has the advantage but if it’s bullpen vs. bullpen then the Astros are in a much stronger position.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, September 24th @ 6:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Blue Jays - SN590
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Blue Jays - SNET, TVA Sports / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV

Game 2: Tuesday, September 25th @ 6:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Blue Jays - SN590
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Blue Jays - SNET / MLB.TV

Game 3: Wednesday, September 26th @ 3:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM / Blue Jays - SN590
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Blue Jays - SNET / MLB Network (out-of-market only) / MLB.TV

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (62 votes)
  • 60%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (106 votes)
  • 1%
    Blue Jays Win 2-1
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Blue Jays Sweep 3-0
    (4 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now