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Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers - Taken

Come and take it

Altuve's face when the Rangers came and took it
Altuve's face when the Rangers came and took it
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

If you look around hard enough you can find an article from the Houston area that is purely meant to incite Rangers fans. I'm not going to link it because it's not worth your time and is mostly just the latest example of Houston's short man syndrome when it comes to its sports rivalry with Dallas.

That rivalry used to extend only to football where they played like fifth fiddle to the Cowboys, high school football, college football, pee wee football, arena football in the state. Which is to say, feeling like they matter in comparison to DFW sports is something important only to Houston.

Over the last little while a rivalry between the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks has boiled up but the height of that spat came from an emoji on a Twitter post which is hardly Bucky Dent over the Green Monster level lore.

Now we come to the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. For the longest time, the "rivalry" was the punchline of the Lone Star Series. The Silver Boot (still near and dear to my heart) was awarded to the winner of a yearly series between two teams that didn't give a crap about the other and were probably just glad to get to play another team so close to them geographically.

The Astros were in the far off land of National League baseball and the Rangers were busy being in the real Major Leagues. But then the Astros graduated to the American League and joined the West. From there, rather than stooping to the Houston Chronicle's level, I will let the action of pictures speak louder than the words of those desperate for sports attention:

Series Schedule:

Tuesday, April 19 7:05 pm: RHP Scott Feldman vs LHP Derek Holland

Wednesday, April 20 7:05 pm: RHP Doug Fister vs LHP Cole Hamels

Thursday, April 21 7:05 pm: LHP Dallas Keuchel vs RHP A.J. Griffin

Houston Strengths:

Well, they have a 21-year-old Alex Rodriguez circa 1996 playing shortstop for pennies for them in Carlos Correa. That's probably pretty good.

Houston Weaknesses:

Right now, that Ken Giles trade has to smart. The Astros committed the cardinal sin of trading a premium price for a closer. Worse yet, Giles isn't even the closer (not that that matter much) -- as the Astros have opted to keep Luke Gregerson in that role, and Giles is off to a rough start. To acquire Giles, the Astros gave Philadelphia a five-player haul headlined by Vincent Velasquez.

In two starts, covering 15 innings, Velasquez hasn't allowed a run while striking out 25 batters and issuing just three walks. On April 14, Velasquez tossed a 3-hit complete game shutout while striking out 16 San Diego Padres. So, yes, that means Velasquez has already made more 9th inning appearances than Ken Giles.

In his first taste of the American League, Giles has an ERA of 7.94 in six appearances and has already allowed three home runs in his 5 2/3 innings of work. In Giles' two seasons with Philadelphia, he allowed three total home runs in 115 2/3 innings.

Obviously Velasquez isn't going to go 20-0 with an ERA of 0.00 with 450 strikeouts, and Ken Giles isn't going to continue having a 100% HR/FB rate, but it's enough to make the folks further down I-45 sweat even more than they do in the Harris County humidity.

Go Rangers!

Houston Astros (5-8, 5th Place in AL West)

Rangers' 2015 Record vs. Houston: 13-6 (8-2 at The Ballpark)

Houston's Recent Results: Taking their first series of the season 2-1 against Detroit

Houston's 2016 Road Record: 2-4

The Ballpark Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 102/99 - Runs: 111/106

SB Nation Astros Blog: The Crawfish Boxes

Match-up: (as of 04/19) Rangers Astros Advantage
Batting (RAR) -6.4 (21th) 7.7 (5th) Astros
Base Running (RAR) 0.7 (9th) -1.2 (22nd) Rangers
Starters (RAR) 2.6 4.4 Astros
Bullpen (RAR) -8.1 (30th) -1.9 (24th) *gulp*
Defense (UZR) 2.1 (9th) -1.4 (18th) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) -9.1 7.6 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Questions to Answer:

  • Yay or Nay: Do you consider the Houston Astros to be the main rivals of the Texas Rangers?
  • Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I cannot wait for a whole summer of Rougie vs. Houston.)
  • Over/Under: 2.5 home runs allowed by Ken Giles over the rest of the season?
  • What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Derek Holland in tonight's series opener and tone-setter against Houston?
  • Would you trade Nomar Mazara for George Springer?