Astros Vs. Pirates Series Preview: Wandy Rodriguez Could Make Quick Return To Minute Maid Park

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 23: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros throws against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park on June 23, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Astros play a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which begins on Thursday. Facing Wandy Rodriguez in a Pirates uniform at Minute Maid Park is a real possibility here.

Starting pitching has been the most solid aspect of the game for the Astros, but as of Thursday morning the team didn't have a starter scheduled in place of Wandy Rodriguez on Saturday, who just might get his debut start for the Pirates that day at Minute Maid Park against the Astros.

It just can't get much weirder for the Stros. Their starting pitching has been most reliable this season, but becomes unsure right when they get ready to play the team they gave away their best pitcher to. Say what you want about the Astros not having much talent, but the self deprecation never lacks for intrigue.

But on to baseball.

The Astros and Pirates start up a four-game series on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park, with Houston coming off a series sweep delivered by the Reds and riding a nine-game losing streak. Pittsburgh was able to avoid a series sweep against the Cubs on Wednesday, thanks to the long ball.

Pirates standout outfielder prospect Sterling Marte is expected to make his Major League debut for the team over the weekend, in which we could see more of the team's young, rising star power.

Pitching match-ups are a bit confusing past Thursday's head-to-head of Dallas Keuchel and A.J. Burnett. Jordan Lyles is expected to start for the Astros on Friday, but a starter hasn't been announced for the Pirates. It could be their newly acquired Rodriguez, or Jeff Karstens.

While its unclear who the Stros will start on Saturday, whoever it is will likely face Wandy. Lucas Harrell and James McDonald are your probable starters on Sunday in the series finale.

What's going to be worth paying attention to is Houston's back-end pitching and whether or not it will be able to sustain itself over the weekend. Francisco Cordero, who was brought over in the J.A. Happ trade, has consecutive blown saves in his short Astros tenure so far, and the team's bullpen had a 15.43 ERA in seven innings against the Reds.

Read more about the Astros at The Crawfish Boxes and SB Nation Houston. Head over to Bucs Dugout and SB Nation Pittsburgh for the Pirates fans' perspective. Baseball Nation is your source for news and analysis around Major League Baseball.

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