Astros @ Tigers
July 29-31, 2016
Friday, July 29 – 6:10pm CDT
Collin McHugh (7-6, 4.18) vs. Matt Boyd (1-2, 4.63)
McHugh continues his nice improvement. Since his short start in Arlington he has six quality starts out of seven starts, the seventh start falling just one out short of qualifying. He lasted 5.1 innings against the Tigers in April, allowing four runs on 10 hits.
Boyd has bounced between AAA and the majors this year and is currently on his third stint with the Tigers so far this season, having been back up since right before the break. His last stint with the big club didn’t end well, with two straight appearances in June allowing six or more earned runs. This one has gone much better, though, with three starts with no more than one earned run given up. He hasn’t worked very deep into games, averaging only five innings per start. The Astros saw him once last year and hung five runs on him in as many innings; Colby hit two homers off of him for a super-sweet 1.000/1.000/4.000 slash line.
Saturday, July 30 – 6:10pm CDT
Mike Fiers (7-4, 4.69) vs. Justin Verlander (10-6, 3.64)
I was wrong about Fiers. After his hissyfit in Oakland I didn’t expect him to bounce back for seven innings of good ball like he did against the Angels. Of course, being spotted an early 8-0 lead has to help quite a bit. Like McHugh, Fiers also faced the Tigers in April and gave up four runs and three bombs in 5.2 innings, but got the win anyway thanks to being in the top 10 in baseball in run support.
After a particularly bad day at the office against Cleveland a few weeks ago – allowing eight runs in 4.2 innings – Verlander has had a nice string of five games, going 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA and working his ERA down below where it was before the start against the Indians. Verlander beat the Astros earlier this year with a bare-minimum quality start, and shut them out for seven innings in 2015.
Sunday, July 31 – 12:10pm CDT
Dallas Keuchel (6-10, 4.57) vs. Mike Pelfrey (3-9, 4.98)
This matchup is a repeat of the April 15 game against the Tigers, which the Astros won 1-0.
Keuchel is in the bottom 10 in baseball in run support. Perhaps the best evidence of his lack of run support came in this matchup in April, allowing just five hits over eight shutout innings. Another good data point came on Monday when he turned in another great outing against the Yanks but got only a leadoff home run in support of his effort.
Pelfrey is also in the bottom 10 in something. Actually, he’s MLB-worst in something: WHIP, with 1.75, and leads the second-worst by over a tenth of a point. He’s MLB-worst in something else, too: K/BB ratio, with 45 walks against just 48 K’s. Only Martin Perez is anywhere close to that. Pelfrey is still capable of pitching a good game, but this is a different team than the one that scored just one run on him in April, so I’m expecting the results to be different this weekend.