Coming out of their longest losing streak of the season the Astros are set to face the St. Louis Cardinals over the next three days. It will be interesting to see if yesterday's day off coupled with the win on Sunday over the Reds are enough to energize them to play to the standards that the month of May got us all accustomed to watching. If they can find their stride, this division rivalry will be a fun three games.
Tuesday, June 5th - Jaime Garcia (3-3, 3.78 ERA) vs. Lucas Harrell(4-4, 4.71 ERA) - Harrell stumbled quite a bit in his last start in Denver and will be looking to show his strength again, as he did in Los Angeles when he faced Clayton Kershaw. Look for the confidence to return and his breaking ball to be much more efficient that his last start. Meanwhile, Garcia is coming off the bench as he skipped his last start with some elbow issues.Whether or not there is any lingering discomfort or whether the injury messed with his head could go a long way to deciding how strong of a start he has.
Wednesday, June 6th - Adam Wainwright (4-6, 4.98 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (5-2, 4.52 ERA)- Norris has struggled of late as well with his last start only going 1 2/3 innings in Denver on Thursday thanks to a strained hip flexor. After a phenomenal showing in May, Bud will want to show he's that pitcher again. If he's truly healthy, this could be one hell of a show. Meanwhile, Wainwright pitched well in his last outing despite allowing seven runs. Prior to his last start he had only allowed one run in fifteen straight innings. This could be the pitching battle of the series.
Thursday, June 7th - Lance Lynn (8-2, 2.63 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (4-5, 4.31 ERA) - Happy put in a quality start on Friday against the Reds, despite the loss. In his last four starts he's gone 2-2 with a 2.13 ERA. He may not be a lot of flash and power from the mound, but he has been Mr. Consistent of late for the Astros. Meanwhile, Lynn is coming off a start in which he threw 105 pitches during which he allowed five hits and a whopping four walks. He struggled in his last outing with command and it will be interesting to see if that continues.
In all three games we'll see the hitting display the Astros offense has continued to put on despite the struggles from the mound. In Sunday's game the second half of the order was hot, so I expect to see the top half of the order come alive again Thursday for sure.
Keep an eye on the bat of Brett Wallace and Fernando Martinez as each continue to try to prove that the big club is where they belong while they're up filling spots of the injured Travis Buck and Carlos Lee. And of course, we'll all be cheering Jose Altuve as he continues his reign as the hitting King of Houston.
Regardless of the outcomes of these three games, it's always exciting when the Cardinals come to town. Rivalries like this one can't be manufactured...or broken.