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Game 8 Preview. August 1, 2020. Astros @ Angels

Baseball carries on for now. There’s an Astros game tonight. Enjoy it while you can.

MLB: Houston Astros-Workouts Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the MLB season is in grave jeopardy. For now, let’s pretend there’s still a 60 game season with playoffs.

After seven games here’s my key takeaway. The Astros’ starting pitching is more precarious than the 2020 MLB season. No Justin Verlander. That leaves Lance McCullers. He allowed four runs, six hits and four walks in four innings last night. He was lucky to give up only two runs in his first start. So coming back from Tommy John surgery, in ten innings so far McCullers has a 5.40 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP.

Then there’s Framber Valdez. He was good in his first outing. Until he wasn’t. He got through 4.1 innings allowing three earned runs. At least he only gave up one walk, but he also only got two Ks. That seem about like what we can expect from Framber based on past track record.

Josh James. Another high ceiling, low floor guy who seems to be crawling on the floor. He only got through three innings, allowing three runs, with a 2.67 WHIP.

Then there’s tonight’s starter, Zack Greinke. He too was just flat awful in his first start. It’s not just the three runs in 3.1 innings, but the lack of command AND a fastball that never hit 90. Only a homer could avoid thinking words like “washed up.” (I know, small sample size)

Hopefully these players will improve with more practice. Maybe to them these games are just like Spring Training; tune ups, time to sharpen the skills.

Hope springs eternal, even in August.

But I say it spells trouble when your ace is a rookie with only 11 innings experience at AAA. Yes, Cristian Javier has started one game and allowed only one run in 5.2 innings. He looked good. But if that turns out to be the only starter you have with an ERA under 5?

Good thing the top two teams in each division have a playoff slot. Maybe Verlander will be ready by then.

Besides generating enough runs to overcome 12 walks in last nights win over the Angels, the good news for us today is the breakout of Kyle Tucker with 3 hits and four RBI, and the announcement that Ryan Pressly might return for action tonight. That should bolster a mostly rookie bullpen which already has an ERA of 2.08. Those rookies are bound to regress. Hopefully Pressly is there to cushion the fall.

Tonight the Astros put Zack Greinke on the mound for the second time this year. The Astros desperately need him to show improvement over his last performance.

Opposing Greinke on the mound is Griffin Canning, who in his previous start allowed three runs in 4.2 IP. In his career the 2017, 2nd round draft pick has started 18 games with an overall ERA of 4.64.

News updates:

Forrest Whitley has arm discomfort.

And this about the future of Yordan Alvarez and Jose Urquidy:

See ya at the thread.