Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers - Must Sweep Series

The good ol' days - Bob Levey

The Rangers try to finish off their nine game homestand on a positive note by pummeling the hapless Houston Astros and coming closer to the goal of retaining the Silver Boot

Series Schedule:

Friday, July 5 7:05: RHP Lucas Harrell vs. RHP Nick Tepesch

Saturday, July 6 6:15: LHP Dallas Keuchel vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Sunday, July 7 2:05: LHP Erik Bedard vs. RHP Justin Grimm

The Rangers have averaged 4.3 runs per game in 2013. Somehow, that's been good enough for 12th best in baseball. Lately however, the runs have been few and far between.

So the bad news is the Rangers aren't scoring runs. The good news is neither are the Astros (3.7 runs per game) and that's who the Rangers play this weekend. The other good news is the Ranger offense gets to hit against the likes of Lucas Harrell, Dallas Keuchel, and Erik Bedard.

If there's a team in the league that is akin to an alternator for your run down offensive batteries, with a pitching staff acting as jumper cables for your lineup, it's the Astros.

But we all know that it isn't about scoring runs at a more prolific rate or using a terrible Houston team to catapult Texas toward a successful second half. No, as it always is when the Rangers face the hated Astros, on the forefront of our minds is the fate of our treasured Silver Boot.

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The Rangers are 5-1 against their Texan rivals this season. All six of those contests have come in Houston, however. After this weekend, there will be ten more games between the Rangers and Astros with six of those games scheduled for Arlington. The Rangers need five more wins to secure the coveted Boot for yet another season.

A sweep this weekend could go a long way to making sure the pride of Texas stays in the DFW where it belongs.

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the worst team in baseball; the Houston Astros:

  • Nick Tepesch: 3-6, 6.83 K/9, 2.46 BB/9, .296 BABIP, 69.7% LOB, 4.37 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 10 runs allowed in 13.1 innings
  • Lucas Harrell: 5-8, 5.76 K/9, 4.23 BB/9, .306 BABIP, 72.1% LOB, 4.91 FIP, 4.53 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 15.2 innings

Advantage: Nick Tepesch has been a better pitcher in 2013, has pitched better against the Astros than Lucas Harrell has pitched against the Rangers in 2013, and once won a staring contest with a wax figure of Brad Pitt made up to look like his character from Legends of the Fall.

  • Yu Darvish: 8-3, 11.99 K/9, 2.94 BB/9, .258 BABIP, 82.7% LOB, 3.12 FIP, 2.66 xFIP, 3.0 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 18.0 innings
  • Dallas Keuchel: 4-5, 7.03 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, .328 BABIP, 72.8% LOB, 4.73 FIP, 3.88 xFIP, 0.1 WAR - Last three starts: 10 runs allowed in 13.1 innings

Advantage: Yu Darvish has been a better pitcher for all of recorded human baseball history when compared to Dallas Keuchel.

  • Justin Grimm: 7-6, 6.94 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, .328 BABIP, 66.4% LOB, 4.78 FIP, 4.23 xFIP, 0.7 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 14.0 innings
  • Erik Bedard: 3-4, 7.73 K/9, 4.37 BB/9, .297 BABIP, 76.3% LOB, 4.86 FIP, 4.88 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 18.2 innings

Advantage: If I didn't love baseball, I wouldn't watch this game. Who has the advantage in this game? People who like to go out and do something pleasant on a summer Sunday afternoon.

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Houston Astros (31-55, 5th Place in AL West)

Rangers' 2013 Record vs. Houston: 5-1 (All at Minute Maid)

Houston's Recent Results: 1-2 home series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays

Houston's 2013 Road Record: 14-23

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 109/112 - Runs: 111/116

SB Nation Astros' Blog: The Crawfish Boxes

Match-up: (as of 07/05) Rangers Astros Advantage
Batting (RAR) -21.4 (21st) -61.9 (28th) LOL Astros (And sadly LOL Rangers, too)
Base Running (RAR) -3.5 (22nd) -7.3 (29th) LOL Astros
Starters (RAR) 43.5 7.6 LOL Astros
Bullpen (RAR) 34.9 (3rd) -21.4 (30th) LOL Astros
Defense (UZR) 13.9 (5th) -35.0 (30th) LOL Astros
Overall (UZR + RAR) 67.4 -118.0

LOLOLOL, Astros

Questions to Answer:

  • On a scale of 1-10: In your opinion, how likely is it that Yu Darvish goes seven or more innings in his start on Saturday?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Lance Berkman seems to be at his best against his old team.)
  • Over/Under: 5.5 home runs hit by the Texas Rangers collectively in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Nick Tepesch tonight as he tries to bounce back from a recent bout of short outings?
  • Yea or Nay: The Rangers knock off at least two wins on the quest to secure the Silver Boot for another year?
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