Series Preview: Diamondbacks face Houston Astros in split series
By David Coffey
Starting today the Arizona Diamondbacks will begin a four game series with the Houston Astros with each team getting two home games. This series is going to be a contest between two teams that are on a bit of a down trend the last two weeks.
The Houston Astros are coming into this series with the second best record in the MLB. On the other hand, the Astros are on the downturn. Having only won 3 out of their last 10 games they seem to be falling asleep at the wheel. The team is also 12-15 since the All-Star break.
During the same period of time, the Diamondbacks are 12-16.
Both teams have something to fight for this week, and that is pride. Both teams need to show that they belong in the playoffs and the strong starts were not flukes.
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With how often Torey Lovullo moves around the line up it is hard to get a real grasp of who will be playing what days. The safe bet is that Goldschmidt will play all four games but one can never be too sure.
Game 1: McHugh vs Greinke
In the first game of the series, Collin McHugh (0-1) will be making his fifth start for the Astros this year after missing the most of the first half of the season with an elbow injury. In the previous four starts, he has a 5.32 ERA in 22.0 innings pitched. He also has 22 strikeouts in those four outings. The Astros will most likely be hoping that he keeps the runs down against this high powered Diamondbacks offense.
Zack Greinke (13-5) will be taking the mound today for Arizona and he is having a great season so far. With an ERA of 3.16 in his 23 outings, he is keeping the Diamondbacks in close games. To go along with his great ERA Greinke also has 165 strikeouts and batters have a .223 batting average against him. With Greinke taking the bump for the Diamondbacks he will more than likely get the win as well having only lost one game at home this year.
In this matchup, it is clear that the Diamondbacks have the advantage in terms of pitching.
Game 2: Peacock vs Banda
Brad Peacock (10-1) looks like a stud this year for the Astros with 13 starts on the year. Along with his 10 wins in 26 appearances he has an ERA of 3.07 and a batting average against of .207. He did not take up a starting role until May 22nd with only one appearance since not being as a starter. If Peacock can continue to pitch this well it could prove hard for the Diamondbacks to come out with a win.
Anthony Banda (1-2) is a very good looking rookie for the Diamondbacks organization and has shown some promise since being called up to fill in for Robbie Ray. Despite the 1-2 record and a 4.60 ERA, he has a batting average against of .241 and a WHIP of 1.21. These are very good numbers for a player that is in the majors for the first time. Clearly, they are worthy allowing Banda a fourth start on Tuesday
Due to Banda’s inexperience, the advantage is clearly in the Astros’ favor to close out the Arizona half of the “home-and-home.”
Game 3: Walker vs Morton
To start out the series in Houston the Diamondbacks put Taijuan Walker (6-6) on the mound. Walker is having a bit of a middling year with a good ERA (3.76). The issue is that most games he plays in end up in a no decision for him. Hence the 6-6 record with 19 starts. What needs to happen is Walker needs run support in this game to get the win. Runs may be hard to come by with the man he is facing.
Charlie Morton (9-5) is another player having a good year. With a 3.83 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 101 innings pitched he can get players out. This is especially worrisome because the Diamondbacks love to swing early in counts. With his low batting average against (.230), it is safe to assume the Diamondback issue with hitting with runners in scoring position shall continue.
The advantage is also with the Astros on this day. Being at home with a pitcher that is hard to hit off of may just keep the Diamondbacks from giving the run support they need. Sorry, Tai-Weezy.
Game 4: Corbin vs Fiers
Patrick Corbin (9-11) will be starting off the final game in this four game series. With a 4.52 ERA, Corbin is the weak link in the Diamondbacks rotation. He is coming off of a good game so he may finally have his feet under him again. In his last start against the Cubs Corbin got the win and gave up no runs in his 6.2 innings. Batting average against was still at .298 but he gave up no runs to the powerhouse that is the Chicago Cubs.
Mike Fiers (7-7) seems to also be the weak link out of the Astros rotation. His 4.36 ERA leaves much to be desired and unlike Corbin has no momentum to speak of. In his last start, Fiers gave up six runs in only four innings. He has also allowed six home runs in his last three outings. This is something that the Diamondbacks will eat up especially if Lamb, Goldschmidt, and Martinez make up the core of our line up. Fiers also has a .298 batting average against for the season.
This game is very unlikely to become a pitchers duel. I expect a lot of offense on each side and the team that scores last taking home the win. This match is just too close to call.
Final thoughts on series
This should be a hard fought series between two teams with a lot to prove. Both teams have heart and will need it to come out with a victory. The Diamondbacks are in the middle of a fight with the Rockies over the number one Wild Card spot in the National League. A series win is a must for them if they are to hope and host the Wild Card game.