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Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers - Margin For Error

The Rangers open up the final homestand of 2013 versus the Houston Astros in a must sweep series against the worst team in sports

For the final time in 2013: Houston.
For the final time in 2013: Houston.

Series Schedule:

Monday, September 23 7:05: RHP Jordan Lyles vs. LHP Derek Holland

Tuesday, September 24 7:05: RHP Brad Peacock vs. RHP Yu Darvish

Wednesday, September 25 7:05: LHP Dallas Keuchel vs. LHP Martin Perez

I've long believed the idea that you can't assume a series sweep in baseball, no matter the opponent, to be true. You just can't make assumptions with baseball. Hell, the Rangers have lost to the Astros twice already this season. Twice this season, were you to have assumed a sweep, you'd have been left feeling foolish. One time this year the Rangers lost at home to the 105-loss Astros with Yu Darvish on the mound. There's no explanation for that loss.

But a sweep is just what the Rangers have to do. For there to be any hope left for them to rise up and reclaim one of the Wild Card spots, Rangers absolutely must sweep the Houston Astros. With a regular season ending series against the Anaheim Angels waiting for them this weekend, the Rangers can't afford even one loss against Houston. A slim margin for error has been the Rangers' bugaboo in 2013 and now that margin for error doesn't exist.

The first time that the Rangers lost to the Astros in 2013 was on March 31. That was the first game played this season. Matt Harrison was on the mound. Derek Lowe was the first Ranger reliever of the season. In what would become a recurring nightmare, Justin Maxwell was terrorizing the Rangers for two Opening Day triples. That's how this season began.

Without a sweep, there's a good possibility that the 2013 Texas Rangers season will have been bookended by a sour taste left by the Astros.

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against our Silver Boot punching bags from Space City:

  • Derek Holland: 9-9, 7.95 K/9, 2.84 BB/9, .305 BABIP, 75.2% LOB, 3.58 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 4.2 WAR - Last three starts: 14 runs allowed in 14.2 innings
  • Jordan Lyles: 7-8, 5.91 K/9, 2.99 BB/9, .307 BABIP, 64.9% LOB, 4.56 FIP, 4.38 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 15.2 innings

Advantage: Doesn't matter; need sweep

  • Yu Darvish: 13-9, 11.78 K/9, 3.35 BB/9, .263 BABIP, 83.6% LOB, 3.24 FIP, 2.86 xFIP, 4.8 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
  • Brad Peacock: 5-5, 8.15 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, .266 BABIP, 68.9% LOB, 5.10 FIP, 4.63 xFIP, 0.0 WAR - Last three starts: 6 runs allowed in 18.2 innings

Advantage: Doesn't matter; need sweep

  • Martin Perez: 9-5, 5.71 K/9, 2.73 BB/9, .295 BABIP, 77.7% LOB, 4.28 FIP, 4.18 xFIP, 1.4 WAR - Last three starts: 8 runs allowed in 17.0 innings
  • Dallas Keuchel: 6-9, 7.18 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, .343 BABIP, 69.5% LOB, 4.19 FIP, 3.58 xFIP, 1.1 WAR - Last three starts: 12 runs allowed in 16.0 innings

Advantage: Doesn't matter; need sweep


Houston Astros (51-105, 5th Place in AL West)

Rangers' Record vs. Houston: 14-2 (5-1 at The Ballpark)

Houston's Recent Results: Swept 0-3 on the road by the Cleveland Indians

Houston's 2013 Road Record: 27-51

Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 112/103 - Runs: 112/110

SB Nation Astros Blog: The Crawfish Boxes

Match-up: (as of 09/23) Rangers Astros Advantage
Batting (RAR) -25.9 (16th) -78.9 (26th) This train wreck has no brakes
Base Running (RAR) -1.6 (16th) -5.5 (22nd) Getting back on the plus side would make for a moral victory
Starters (RAR) 94.8 14.4 One last go-round against the worst pitching in baseball
Bullpen (RAR) 63.9 (2nd) -56.1 (30th) 29th place is -3.3
Defense (UZR) 28.5 (6th) -54.5 (29th) LOL Mariners
Overall (UZR + RAR) 159.7 -180.6

See you in hell, Marwin

Questions to Answer:

  • Do the Astros lose over 100 games again next season?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I want to watch Yu Darvish and basically no one else.)
  • Over/Under: 7.5 runs allowed by the Houston Astros bullpen in this series? (Remember, if you say over, you're saying the Texas Rangers will somehow score at least eight runs in this series.)
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Martin Perez on Wednesday night in what could be his final start of the 2013 season?
  • Yea or Nay: The Rangers sweep the Astros and remain in the playoff race?