Tonight at 6:10 PM CT, the Houston Astros will kick off a three-game set against the Cleveland Guardians.
This is the first of two series between the two clubs this season. They’ll play another three-game set back at Minute Maid Park from July 31 through August 2. The last time these two met was from August 4 through 7 last season, when the two split a four-gamer. In the finale, Triston McKenzie kept the Astros scoreless on two hits and a walk over eight frames, negating a perfectly acceptable quality start from Cristian Javier. Javier surrendered one run over six innings, walking zero and striking out four.
Houston is 38-42 against Cleveland in all-time competition. The resulting .475 winning percentage is their worst mark against any AL Central foe. Sweetening the history slightly is Houston’s 3-0 record against them in playoff competition, all in the 2018 ALDS.
Houston went 17-5 from May 9 through June 3, and although the thing hasn’t yet come “off the rails,” there are clear warnings in place after the Astros have dropped four of their last five. Jose Abréu’s continued offensive and defensive ineptitude, Martín Maldonado’s offensive woes, and the unavailability of positive contributors (Brantley, McCullers, Urquidy, Garcia) have cast a bit of a pall on Houston’s 2023 season. What should have been a victory lap is turning into a bit of a slog.
Despite the offensive drudgery, Houston’s pitching has been outstanding, and has the club nine games above .500. There’s something to be said for that, right? Speaking of outstanding pitching...
Gametime and Starting Pitchers
Tonight, 6:10 PM CT — Cristian Javier (7-1, 2.84) vs. Logan Allen (3-2, 2.76)
Tomorrow, 5:10 PM CT — JP France (1-1, 3.44) vs. Triston McKenzie (0-0, 0.00)
Sunday, 12:40 PM CT — Brandon Bielak (3-2, 3.35) vs. Shane Bieber (4-3, 3.57)
Javier’s one of four possible “aces” on the staff, as I said in the season preview. France and Bielak, we didn’t really have many expectations for them, but they (along with Ronel Blanco) have filled in admirably.
As for the other guys, Allen’s statline for the season consists of all his MLB experience. McKenzie was sidelined until recently, and has struck out 10 over five frames without a decision. Of course, Bieber won the American League Cy Young Award in 2020, so Houston kinda has their work cut out for them.
Tonight’s expected lineups, per rotowire.com:
I think rotowire may be wrong about McCormick in the five-hole, but otherwise it looks about what we’re expecting.
How many wins will Houston come out of Cleveland with?
This poll is closed
Three wins for Houston
Two wins for Houston
Only one win for Houston
Houston gets swept.