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2019 Series Preview #13: Texas Rangers @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (22-15, 1st in AL West) host Round 3 of the Silver Boot Series with four against the Rangers (17-17, 3rd in AL West)

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Recency Bias

Rangers

The Rangers touch down in Houston with a decent week under their belts where they managed to win 2 out of 3 against the Blue Jays before heading on to a series split in Pittsburgh. The wins have all come mainly with the help of the offense with 27 runs scored in the three W’s. The Rangers have been fairly streaky all season, usually rattling off multiple wins before going on a skid, which has kept them treading water near .500 most of the season. As we’ve already seen, they have an explosive offense which can overpower opposing pitching, but their pitching usually can’t keep up with opposing offenses.

Of Bats and Men

MLB: Texas Rangers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The hero of the week for the Rangers has to be Joey Gallo, who has been doing it all season with his incredible power, ability to draw the walk, and prodigious strikeout totals. Gallo has really been breaking out this season, drawing respect for his eye at the plate and ability to launch against almost any pitcher.

He’s joined by Old Friend Hunter Pence, who has been seeing an increase to his playtime as he’s begun to turn it on. He’s managed a .714/.800/1.857 slash line in limited duty this week, including a grand slam in yesterday’s victory against the Pirates. Expect to see him more this series as the Rangers have optioned Delino DeShields to the minors, freeing up some playing time in the outfield.

Though it’s been a somewhat pedestrian week from the rest of the Rangers’ lineup, the offense has been chugging along nicely for a rebuilding team. Shin-Soo Choo has been having an excellent 2019 campaign this season, as has Elvis Andrus and rookie Danny Santana. They will also be activating 1B Ronald Guzmán during this series, who was getting off to a decent start before going on the IL with a hamstring issue.

On the Pen

Toronto Blue Jays v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Rangers’ pen has seen some upheaval in recent weeks as Jose LeClerc was removed from the closer position after struggling to start the season. For the time being he will probably see more duty in low leverage situations rather than the 9th. In his place, Arlington has been tapping Chris Martin and Shawn Kelley to get the big outs lately.

Kelley has been one of the better relievers for the Rangers on the year, sporting a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings of work. He’s also got a microscopic .191 AVG and 0.71 WHIP so far this season, showing why he’s been getting the call for high leverage situations. Martin has been less than spectacular, but most of the damage done against him came early in the season. He’s currently working with a 6 inning scoreless steak that has also seen him log 9 strikeouts.

After that the stats don’t paint a pretty picture for most of the rest of the arms in the pen. Jesse Chavez sees the most work as innings-eaters out of the pen when the starter can’t give length to the team. After that things tend to thin a little in the stats department as almost every remaining pitcher has an ERA north of 5.50.

Astros

Houston welcomes the Rangers to town after winning a series against the Royals thanks to some explosive offense of their own. Though the bats wold go cold in the second game of that series, Houston managed to win on the back of 6 solid runs in the first and 9 in the third. This came after they slapped around Angels pitching in Monterrey last weekend to the tune of 24 runs in two games. Over the last two series the Astros have plated 41 runs in five games as they’ve devoured a couple of lesser teams.

Of Bats and Men

Kansas City Royals v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Michael Brantley has been turning it on recently and would not disappoint with yet another solid week. Even while going 0-for-4 in the second game of the KC series, he’s delivered 8 knocks in the last five games, including 3 home runs and 3 doubles in that time. He would also see a streak of 21 at bats without a swing-and-a-miss end in the last game against the Royals, continuing to bolster his reputation as a contact hitter.

Though Brantley has had a better week, Bregman is not too far behind, especially with his gratuitous performance in the Mexico series. He’s sporting 4 homers of his own in the last week and has seemingly awakened from his slow start to the season.

In fact, the Astros’ offense as a whole seems to be rising to the occasion this week. Correa continued to prove he’s back from injury, Springer added to his home run and RBI totals, Chirinos added to his credentials as a smart pick-up, and Gurriel has seemingly emerged from his slump.

Even the players who haven’t turned in stellar weeks have mostly had decent showings at times this week. Unfortunately, though, Altuve continues to struggle at the plate and hasn’t been turning in the MVP-like numbers we’ve grown used to from him.

On the Pen

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

There’s really not a whole lot to report here as the Astros’ bullpen continued to chug along merrily this week. In fact, this was really one of the better weeks for the pen as there was really only one big blemish.

I’m referring to Framber Valdez’s rough outing against the Royals where he gave up a grand slam, which were the only runs on anyone’s ledger. Devo did allow an inherited runner to score though, but beyond that it was smooth sailing for the pen.

Josh James has had a few good showings out of the pen after an absolutely terrible start to the season. He seems to be enjoying greater control as the year progresses, but will need to continue to do good work before he can regain too much of Hinch’s confidence.

Of course I can’t not mention the Astros’ newest reliever Tyler White, who managed to hurl a scoreless inning against the Royals and record himself a strikeout in the process.

Pitching Match Ups

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: Mike Minor, LHP (3-2, 2.40 ERA) vs, Wade Miley, LHP (2-2, 3.20 ERA)

Ever since a pretty awful opening match against the Cubs, Mike Minor has really stepped it up to become the ace of the Rangers’ staff. He’s coming into this match after working 8 innings of shutout ball against Toronto while striking out 9. That was the third time he’s had a scoreless start this season, including a complete game shutout against the Angels back on April 16th. He handled the Astros quite well the last time they saw him, though he did get an assist from Mr. Ron “I can do anything I want” Kulpa.

Houston counters with Wade Miley, who is coming off yet another solid start as he would open the Mexico series against the Angels. He went 6 innings while only allowing 2 runs in that match. In fact, Miley has been able to at least get into if not through 6 innings this entire season, only failing to do so once. He also has yet to allow more than 3 earned runs in any one start this year, joining Brantley and Chirinos in offseason signings that are currently paying dividends for Houston.

Game 2: Lance Lynn, RHP (4-2, 5.75 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander, RHP (5-1, 2.86 ERA)

Houston will get their first look at Lynn this season, though he has had good luck against the Astros in the past. He didn’t have that good of luck against Toronto his last time out as he would get tagged for 5 runs in 6 innings, but the Rangers’ bats would still get him a win. He’s had a couple of real terrible outings this season where he’s given up 7 to 8 runs, but he’s also had several where he’s able to go deep into a game and has kept opponents to 2 runs or less in 4 games.

Verlander makes this start after a game in Mexico that didn’t go exactly according to plan as he would surrender 4 runs to the Angels. That game snapped a run of five straight where JV had gone at least 6 innings and given up only a single run. One of those games was his most recent start against the Rangers, where he would cruise through 7 innings while only giving up 3 hits and striking out 8.

Game 3: Drew Smyly*, LHP (0-2, 6.63 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole*, RHP (3-4, 4.17 ERA)

Smyly makes the start for the Rangers as he continues to work his way back from TJ surgery. His most recent outing went well enough against Toronto where he would go 4 innings of 1-run ball in what was one of his best starts this season. He was pulled early due to this being his first start since coming back from the IL with nerve tightness. However, that trip would come after four straight starts that would see him give up 4 earned runs in each game. He did well against Houston in his first start of the season, only giving up one run, but only going 3 innings in that one.

Cole makes this start after a 4-run outing against the Royals where he looked to be doing well, but was stung by a couple of long balls. This came after a couple of solid outings against both the Indians and the Twins where he would manage to go 7 innings with double-digit strikeouts in both. Look for Cole to try and get a little revenge on the Rangers after his last time against them where they lit him up for 9 runs (8 earned) in just 4.1 innings of work.

Game 4: Adrian Sampson*, RHP (0-2, 4.41 ERA) vs. Collin McHugh, RHP (3-1, 6.37 ERA)

Though not officially confirmed as the starter, Sampson did get the start at this point in the rotation the last couple of times through. He is currently covering for the injured Edinson Volquez and would get back-to-back starts against Pittsburgh during those games, with his most recent match being a bit of a disaster. That would snap a scoreless streak of 9.2 innings coming into that game. Sampson has made two other starts in 2019, including one against the Astros where he would leave after giving up 3 earned runs in 4.1 innings.

McHugh makes this start after a complete meltdown against the Royals in his last game. He would surrender 8 runs and only go 3 innings as KC simply had their way with McHugh. This continues a string of outings where he has looked uncomfortable on the mound, including his last time out against the Rangers. That game would go south very quickly as he would leave after 3.1 innings with 10 runs (9 earned) on his ledger.

*These pitchers have not been confirmed on the team websites but are the most likely based on spot in the rotation

Fun Fact

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, May 9th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rangers - FSSW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Friday, May 10th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rangers - FSSW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 3: Saturday, May 11th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rangers - FSSW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 4: Sunday, May 12th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rangers - FSSW / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (24 votes)
  • 49%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (52 votes)
  • 20%
    Series Split 2-2
    (22 votes)
  • 5%
    Rangers Win 3-1
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Rangers Sweep 4-0
    (2 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now