The Houston Astros return to Minute Maid Park today to begin a three game series against the division-leading Cincinnati Reds. Will they prove that home really is where their heart is? The Astros return from a road trip with a six game losing streak in hand and will be looking to break that with this series against the Reds.
Friday – Mike Leake (1-5, 5.47 ERA) v. J.A. Happ (4-4, 4.37 ERA) – In his last outing, the Reds’ Leake lasted only 3 2/3 innings on the mound, giving up nine hits and three runs in that start. He’ll be looking to keep his pitches down as he struggled with that in his last start. For the Astros, J.A. Happ has turned heads with much improved performance this year over last. In his last three starts he’s 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA. Even in that one loss, against the Dodgers, Happ struck out 10 batters. Look for a strong start from Happ.
Saturday – Mat Latos (4-2, 4.58 ERA) v. Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 2.49 ERA) – Wandy has been shaky of late allowing 28 hits and 8 earned runs in his last eighteen innings pitched. He did recently grab second on the club’s all-time wins list for a lefty. Wandy is solid even when he struggles, and expect him to show that excellent attitude and aptitude again Saturday. He’ll be facing Latos who just became the first Reds pitcher to allow five home runs in a game. Despite that title, he still walked away from last Sunday’s game with only 96 pitches in 7 1/3 innings. This could be a great pitching battle on Saturday.
Sunday – Bronson Arroyo (2-3, 3.59 ERA) v. TBD – The starter for Sunday’s game has not yet been announced by the Astros, but whoever it is will face righty, Arroyo who only lasted four innings in his last start. He had a difficult time closing down innings as all four runs he allowed came with two outs on the board.
On an offensive note, the Astros hit a lot of baseballs in their last series against the Rockies, and it’s likely we’ll see that again in this first series in back in Houston. Jose Altuve is still getting on base more than an other Astro with a BA of .317 and OBP of .363. Jed Lowrie is closely behind him with an OBP of .357. If these guys can keep it up and J.D. Martinez can continue to approve his comfort level at the plate, the boys might just give us a good show this weekend.