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2019 Series Preview #45: Houston Astros @ Milwaukee Brewers

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The Astros (89-49, 1st in AL West) will labor in Milwaukee with a two-game series against the Brewers (70-66, 3rd in NL Central)

MLB: Houston Astros at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Hey everyone, due to the holiday weekend and the fact that I’m hanging with my family, I’ll be doing it a bit of short form for this preview. I hope everyone can take some time today to enjoy the holiday with friends, family and barbecue. But no matter what, Labor Day is a great day for some baseball, so don’t forget the early start time at 3:10 today!

Snapshot

Astros

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

Houston strolls into Milwaukee after an outstanding couple of weeks of baseball. The team has won all 4 of its previous series with an 11-3 record, while also going 19-9 during the month of August. They would get off on the right foot for September, as GOAT Justin Verlander tossed his third career no-hitter, his first as an Astro.

The best part from that game is that the game-winning home run was delivered by rookie Abraham Toro, who was playing in his first series in his native Canada. To make it even crazier, it all went down at the Rogers Centre, the site of Verlander’s second career no-no. which makes him the first MLB pitcher to have two career no-hitters in the same stadium as a visitor.

The Astros continue to be a top 3 offense in most traditional offensive stats. The team doesn’t really have a single leader with so many players producing. Bregman and Gurriel have easily been the hottest hitters on the team in recent weeks and it looks as though Yordan Alvarez may just get his second consecutive Rookie of the Month honors. You’re also still getting steady productivity out of Altuve, Brantley and Springer, and hopefully Correa will be added back to the mix shortly.

Houston’s bullpen did look a little shaky in one of the two games it actually factored into while in Toronto. Biagini did have an excellent outing though, helping to bridge the gap after Miley left early in the first game. The bullpen is also hurting a little as once more Collin McHugh will head to the IL, where he joins Brad Peacock.

Brewers

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Brewers, they are currently fighting for their playoff lives in the middle of a scrum for the second wild card spot in the NL. They only sit three games back of the spot in spite of losing 4 of their last 6 series. However, one of those series wins came against their closest NL Central rival the Chicago Cubs, who they were able to finish off in dramatic fashion with a three-run homer in the ninth in yesterday’s game. Though they sit within striking distance, the Brewers have been unable to make a sustained run at the final playoff spot, constantly hovering just outside the gate. The team has definitely taken a step back this season after coming within one game of a trip to the World Series last year, but it was generally thought that were ahead of schedule in 2018.

The Brewers’ offense is better than average but hardly a group of world beaters. They do have on-base skills though and rare a speedy team with the 3rd most stolen bases in the NL. They’re led by NL MVP candidate Christian Yelich, who leads the team in almost every single offensive category. He’s currently at the top for AVG (.328), Runs (95), Home Runs (41), RBI (89), and stolen bases (26). On top of that he leads the entire MLB in OPS at 1.091 and Slugging at .670.

Of course he’s hardly the only one on the team having a good season. Power hitter Mike Moustakas is continuing to make a statement about how he needs a better contract, and is joined by Eric Thames as the big power hitters for Milwaukee’s lineup. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is also having an excellent season with some pop in his bat, and is on pace for at least the second most homers he’s ever hit in his career. There’s also Ryan Braun, who remains a threat at the plate even as he ages out of his prime baseball years.

As for the Brewers’ bullpen, everyone knows that they’re led by Josh Hader but after that things have been a little dicey. Hader has a sparkling 2.79 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 61 innings this season, but is the only reliever with an ERA below 3.50, and there are only two with one below 4.00. He also regularly handles multiple innings in the closer role for the Brewers. Matt Albers and Junior Guerra have both seen save chances this year as well, so you can expect to see them in the late innings if Milwaukee has a lead. Former Ranger Alex Claudio is also in the mix, and is having a good season out of Milwaukee’s pen.

Pitching Match Ups

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

scottydouble did such an excellent job writing up the pitchers for today’s match in yesterday’s recap that I’m just gonna toss it in here as-is. If you didn’t read the recap yesterday about Verlander’s masterful performance, I suggest you do so now.

Game 1: Gerrit Cole, RHP (15-5, 2.85 ERA) vs Adrian Houser, RHP (6-5, 3.52 ERA)

Cole ranks second in the Majors in strikeouts (252) and second in the AL (behind only Verlander) in ERA, WHIP (0.96) and Hits allowed per nine innings (6.45). In his last start, Cole struck out 14 and allowed four runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday. He established a new franchise mark with his 15th double-digit strikeout game of the season, surpassing J.R. Richard’s previous club standard. Cole is 3-4 with a 3.55 ERA in 12 career starts against the Brewers and 1-3 with a 5.19 ERA and 34 2/3 innings lifetime at Miller Park.

Adrian Houser (6-5, 3.52) gets the start for the Brewers after leaving his last start early due to left hip discomfort. He lasted five innings and threw 74 pitches in that outing, surrendering just one run on four hits against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. Since rejoining the Milwaukee rotation at the end of July, Houser has posted a 2.43 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and struck out 33 batters in 33 1/3 innings over six starts. It will be Houser’s first start against Houston, though he did earn a win in relief in the lone outing of his career against the Astros. Houser is 2-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 19 games and 45 career innings at Miller Park.

Game 2: Zack Greinke, RHP (14-4, 2.99 ERA) vs Jordan Lyles, RHP (9-8, 4.55 ERA)

Greinke enters this game after a rather pedestrian start against the Rays where he surrendered 5 runs in 5.3 innings, including two homers. Greinke usually bounces back well from starts like that, having gone at least 6 innings in each of his 4 starts following a five-run outing this year. He has only given up more than 3 runs in one of those. This is Greinke’s second start of the season against Milwaukee, with the first coming back in Arizona on June 20th. He did quite well om that one with a 7 inning, 2-run line.

Former Astro Jordon Lyles will make his 7th start as a Brewer since coming over from Pittsburgh in a trade. Even though he was struggling in Pittsburgh, kinda like he did with Houston, he’s made good during his time with Milwaukee, owning a 2.51 ERA with his new club. While he did stumble in one game against Washington with 5 earned runs across 4 innings, that was the only time he’s given up more than one earned run as a member of the Brewers. Lyles does have a somewhat high 3.69 BB/9 rate, but that hasn’t hurt him as bad as it seems like it should have this year. Even though he’s been in the league for years, this will be just the second time Lyles has ever faced his former club. The only other time was a 2-inning perfect outing as a member of the Padres last season.

Fun Fact

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Monday, September 2nd @ 3:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Brewers - WTMJ 620
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Brewers - FSWI / ESPN, ESPN (out-of-market only)

Game 2: Tuesday, September 3rd @ 6:40 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Brewers - WTMJ 620
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Brewers - FSWI

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (67 votes)
  • 35%
    Series Split 1-1
    (39 votes)
  • 4%
    Brewers Sweep 2-0
    (5 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now