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Game Preview, July 31, 2020. Astros @ Angels

The Astros make their first trip out West this year.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros head West young man. To Anaheim where they face the Angels.

That means they are not one of the 6 teams whose schedules are postponed due to Coronavirus. A 20th Marlins player tested positive, as well as two Cardinals after playing in Minnesota.

Will this season go 60 games?

Well, the Astros are playing tonight. And for the first time in a while a familiar starter will be on the mound for the Stros, Lance McCullers. It is only his second start since coming back from Tommy John surgery. He got through six innings against the lowly Mariners, giving up two runs. But he had command problems, allowing 3 walks, and his velocity was below his career averages, or even below his performance in the earlier warm up game against KC.

So watch Lance. With Justin Verlander out indefinitely, his success is critical to the success of the Astros in 2020.

After a hot start, the Astros’ bats have gone cold. They are currently ranked twelfth in MLB in BA and OPS, hitting .236 and .734 respectively. Hot bats by Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa are carrying the offense right now, but Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Josh Reddick, Kyle Tucker are all hitting below .700 OPS. George Springer looks lost, hitting OPS .390.

With the pitching staff currently being supported by nine rookies, these players have to get out of their funk and soon, especially with the shortened season.

(BTW, the nine rookies have a cumulative ERA of 1.26 in 28 innings)

Currently the Astros are 3-3, tied with the Oakland A’s for first place in the AL West.

Their opponents today, the Angels, are 2-5. When you think Angels, you think Mike Trout, but he is on paternity leave, his first child, and will probably not play this series.

Their best hitter thus far is their third baseman. No, not recently acquired free agent superstar Anthony Rendon, who has only 9 AB’s, but David Fletcher. And, believe it or not, on top of their hitting leaderboard is an old friend, Max Stassi, hitting OPS 1.371, but in only 11 AB’s.

The Angels send Matt Andriese to start on the mound tonight, his first start of the season. He did throw 5.2 innings of scoreless relief on Sunday against the Oakland A’s so he’s reasonably stretched out. He did not start any games last season, but in his career he has started 49 games, and his career ERA is 4.52.

Overall, the Angels are ranked 16th in MLB in team batting, with a .706 OPS. They are 21st in team pitching, with a 4.99 team ERA. The Astros are 6th, at 3.26