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Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Houston Astros - Minute Maid Minutia

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The Rangers try to take another step closer toward retaining the coveted Silver Boot as they travel to Houston to take on the abhorrent Astros

Beltre would of had it
Beltre would of had it
Bob Levey

Series Schedule:

Friday, May 10 7:10: LHP Dallas Keuchel vs. RHP Alexi Ogando

Saturday, May 11 6:10: LHP Erik Bedard vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Sunday, May 12 1:10: RHP Jordan Lyles vs. RHP Nick Tepesch

An American League West update:

AL West Standings

Texas 21 13 .617 0 Won 1
Oakland 18 18 .500 4 Lost 4
Seattle 16 19 .457 5.5 Won 1
Anaheim 12 22 .352 9 Won 1

(updated 5.9.2013 at 11:56 PM CDT)

Nope. SB Nation, along with the rest of the world, still refuses to acknowledge the Houston Astros.

It does seem weird that the Astros are an American League team, still. I haven't gotten used to it yet. I saw earlier in the month that the Astros were playing the Yankees and that doesn't match up with my delicate sensibilities. For what reason in this world do the Yankees and Astros have any business playing each other?

When I look over the schedule, and notice whichever team is playing the Astros, I often momentarily mentally decide that it's surely the Interleague contest that's going on that day before remembering what's become what. I was thinking while the Rangers were in Milwaukee that it was annoying that the pitchers were going to have to hit with the team down in Houston this weekend.

I've written the Astros off as a National League team for my entire life. I have to get used to writing them off as just a bad American League team. Change is hard. Maybe it'll sink in one of these days. Maybe SB Nation will include the Astros in the AL West standings one of these days.

The Rangers are in the middle of a weird road trip where they'll have played in four different cities to play nine games. Maybe the weirdest aspect of this trip is that they'll be playing games in Texas this weekend, then going to the west coast for a series against Oakland, before returning home to Texas to finally play more games in Arlington. I'd imagine road trips that include a swing in Texas have been pretty rare for the Texas Rangers.

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the thanks-for-at-least-beating-up-on-the-Angels Houston Astros:

  • Alexi Ogando: 3-2, 7.34 K/9, 3.32 BB/9, .280 BABIP, 78.8% LOB, 3.98 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, 0.6 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
  • Dallas Keuchel: 0-1, 5.51 K/9, 4.41 BB/9, .339 BABIP, 67.2% LOB, 5.80 FIP, 4.84 xFIP, -0.3 WAR - Last three appearances: 8 runs allowed in 8.1 innings

Advantage: I don't know who Dallas Keuchel is, but I know he's left-handed. I also know that the Astros sort of rigged things to put a couple of lefties in the rotation because they're facing the Rangers. Philip Humber was moved to the bullpen to make way for Keuchel. This is going to be Keuchel's first start of the season. Keuchel has pitched 16 1/3 innings of relief and has been pretty bad at doing it. He's a Houston Astros pitcher, so bad is to be expected. He made 16 starts last season, the first of those was also against the Rangers. In that start last June, Keuchel went five innings and allowed a run on four hits against a better Rangers' offense.

Alexi Ogando bounced back from couple of middling starts with six innings of one-run ball to keep the Red Sox at bay in his last outing. Ogando isn't striking out many folks of late -- no start with more than five Ks in his last six starts -- but perhaps that will change with the opportunity to face Houston. After all, the last time Ogando faced Houston, he struck out a career high ten hitters.

  • Yu Darvish: 5-1, 14.19 K/9, 2.96 BB/9, .282 BABIP, 78.4% LOB, 1.87 FIP, 1.94 xFIP, 1.9 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
  • Erik Bedard: 0-2, 9.82 K/9, 5.73 BB/9, .305 BABIP, 76.4% LOB, 7.44 FIP, 4.83 xFIP, -0.6 WAR - Last three appearances: 10 runs allowed in 10.1 innings

Advantage: Erik Bedard isn't what Erik Bedard used to be. For example, I don't think he'll be be throwing a complete game two-hit shutout with 15 Ks like he did against the Rangers back in 2007. But he was moved from the bullpen back to the rotation to face the Rangers I suspect because the hand that he throws baseballs with is his left one.

Were anyone going to throw a complete game two-hit shutout with 15 Ks in this game, I'd suspect it would be Yu Darvish. I mean, just a month again, against this Astros' team, at Minute Maid Park, he threw 8 2/3 innings of one-hit shutout baseball with a career high 14 Ks. You might remember it as the time Yu Darvish nearly threw a Perfect Game.

This is one of those special mismatches where Yu Darvish has been one of the best pitchers in baseball -- if not the best -- and Erik Bedard has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball -- if not the worst -- but we've seen Bedard do Yu-ish things to the Rangers before. Even if it was a long time ago.

  • Nick Tepesch: 2-3, 6.19 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, .300 BABIP, 70.3% LOB, 4.17 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, 0.5 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 17.1 innings
  • Jordan Lyles: 1-0, 10.80 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, .333 BABIP, 71.4% LOB, 3.08 FIP, 3.09 xFIP, 0.2 WAR - Last two starts: 5 runs allowed in 10.0 innings

Advantage: Hey look, a right-hander. Jordan Lyles was recently called up to the Astros rotation and has made two starts this season. In total, the three starters for the Astros in this series have complied 48 1/3 innings. For comparison, Yu Darvish has thrown 45 2/3 innings himself so far this season. So, we might end up seeing a lot of the Houston bullpen. Well, wouldn't you know it, the Astro bullpen has been by far the worst in baseball. Lyles started against the Rangers twice in 2012. He gave up nine earned runs in 9 1/3 innings.

Nick Tepesch's armor of poise and guile has been dented by a couple of poor starts against each team from Chicago. Nothing like a start against the Astros to hopefully cure what ails ya. If not, Tepesch will be eyeball deep in Colby Lewis watch 2013.


Houston Astros (10-25, 5th Place in AL West)

Rangers' Record vs. Houston: 2-1 (All at Minute Maid Park)

Houston's Recent Results: 2-1 home series win against the Anaheim Angels

Houston's 2013 Home Record: 6-13

Minute Maid Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 110/109 - Runs: 99/98

SB Nation Astros Blog: The Crawfish Boxes

Match-up: (as of 05/10) Rangers Astros Advantage
Batting (RAR) -2.9 (11th) -11.1 (22nd) Uff da!
Base Running (RAR) -3.5 (29th) -1.6 (21st) Zoinks!
Starters (RAR) 26.2 -7.8 LOL!
Bullpen (RAR) 13.5 (5th) -7.3 (30th) LOL Pt. 2!
Defense (UZR) 8.9 (6th) -11.9 (29th) Wowee!
Overall (UZR + RAR) 42.2 -39.7


Questions to Answer:

  • Without looking it up, can you name any member of the Astros' starting outfield in last night's game against the Angels?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (Elvis Andrus is going to take one up Tal's Hill for an inside-the-park home run.)
  • Over/Under: 26.5 strikeouts recorded by Ranger starting pitching in this series?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Yu Darvish on Saturday night in his first start in Houston against the Astros since he was a Marwin Gonzalez away from a Perfect Game?
  • Just flat out, on a scale of 1 to 10, how disappointed will you be if the Rangers lose any of these games?