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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers

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The Astros (26-18, 1st in AL West) close out the road trip with three games against the reeling Rangers (19-27, 5th in AL West)

MLB: SEP 27 Astros at Rangers Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Narrative

The Rangers have been in free fall lately, having lost 9 of their last 10 games, including a sweep at the hands of the Astros in Houston just last week. Their offense has really hit rock bottom after being no-hit on Wednesday and following it up with a shutout in yesterday’s game. Of course, Wednesday wasn’t even the first time they were no-hit this season, so they have that going for them.

The Rangers have really begun to settle at the bottom of the standings in the division thanks to the recent poor play. They are in the midst of what looks to be a a rebuild period for the foreseeable future, so there’s not much expectation they’ll move back into contention this season. My guess is that anyone with positive trade value and isn’t a long term piece will be gone from Arlington by the deadline, if not sooner.

As you might expect from the last couple of nights, the offense for the Rangers has been kind of a disaster in 2021. As a team they are slashing a paltry .235/.304/.384, which puts them in the bottom third of the league for OPS at .688.

While they don’t get on base as much as other teams, the Rangers do excel at stealing and are aggressive on the base paths, which has helped to put them at 3rd in the league with 32 steals. But they also strike out a ton (444 K’s, 3rd most in MLB) and don’t take a lot of walks (134 BB’s, 19th in MLB), so there’s not much plate discipline in the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Ranger’s pitching staff has also been extremely underwhelming this season. They sport a 4.33 ERA as a group and are third in the league with a .257 mark. The staff have also surrendered the most hits at 403 but, to be fair though, Rangers pitchers have covered more innings than anyone else. They have pitched 407.1 innings across 46 games, which is also the most played in MLB so far this year.

On paper this series should be an easy one for the Astros, who have looked like the cream of the crop in the AL West as of late. However, on paper doesn’t always translate to reality, so let’s hope the Astros don’t become complacent during this series.

Quick Notes

Oh Rangers, bless your hearts:

Also, if you like Houston sports and saucy Puerto Ricans, I recommend following this Twitter account.

Adolis is cool, but not in a good way: While Adolis Garcia (.287/.329/.559) remains the Rangers’ best hitter stats-wise, he has cooled off somewhat recently. In his last 6 games he’s only managed 1 homer (still leads the team at 11 total though) and is only slashing .227/.261/.364. He has also knocked in 3 RBI and stolen a couple of bases during that time.

Speed on the bases: The Rangers’ base stealing remains impressive in 2021, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa leading the team with 8 stolen bags. They have spread it around though and 12 players have steals so far in 2021. Of those 12 players, 9 have at least 2.

Not completely terrible: While the stats don’t exactly scream superstars, the Rangers do have some bats in the lineup to be wary of. Nick Solak (.264/.340/.454) probably deserves more credit than I’ve given him in this preview, as does Nate Lowe (.250/.352/.411).

Closer: Ian Kennedy remains an anchor in the 9th for the Rangers, having successfully converted all 11 of his save opportunities. He’s also done it with dominance as shown by a 2.12 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and .200 BAA across 17 IP this season.

King of High Leverage: John King has seemingly earned the trust of Chris Woodward as a high leverage piece in the Rangers pen. He’s also pitched the most innings of any Rangers reliever at 23 and his 2.35 ERA mark is good for second on the team.

Northpaw Series: This will be the first series of 2021 that the Astros don’t see a left-handed starter.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Tyler Ivey (RHP, 0-0, -.—ERA, 0 K’s) vs Kyle Gibson (RHP, 3-0, 2.32 ERA, 44K’s)

You may remember Kyle Gibson’s last start, which took place in Houston just last week. The Rangers ace held the Astros’ offense down to just two runs but took a no-decision in the eventual loss. His 2.32 ERA is good for third in MLB, but it remains to be seen if Gibson can continue at this pace in light of his 4.47 career ERA across 8 14 seasons.

Game 2: Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, 3-1, 2.70 ERA, 52 K’s) vs Jordan Lyles (RHP, 2-3, 5.93 ERA, 42 K’s)

Lyles has kind of gone back and forth from being dominant to being putrid so far this season. He’s coming into this game after a strong outing against the Yankees where he fired off 6 innings of 1-run ball. However, his .295 BAA and 1.55 WHIP this season seem to indicate that that is not the norm for him in 2021.

Game 3: Cristian Javier (RHP, 3-1, 3.27 ERA, 53 K’s) vs Mike Foltynewicz (RHP, 1-4, 5.18 ERA, 40 K’s)

Foltynewicz has been on a bad run lately, culminating in his last start against the Yankees, who chased him in just 3.2 IP after dropping 5 runs on him. He’s given up 12 runs across 15.1 innings in his last three starts, all of which have been losses for the Rangers. He’ll look to shore things up against the Astros as he faces them for the second time in a week.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, May 21st @ 7:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - Bally Sports Southwest

AD

Game 2: Saturday, May 22nd @ 3:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - Bally Sports Southwest+ / MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Game 3: Sunday, May 23rd @ 1:35 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Rangers - 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rangers - Bally Sports Southwest

Poll

Who wins this series

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (67 votes)
  • 48%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (66 votes)
  • 2%
    Rangers Win 2-1
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Rangers Sweep 3-0
    (0 votes)
136 votes total Vote Now