ASTROS @ MARLINS
May 15-17, 2017
What happened in the last series?
The Astros took three of four from the Yankees in The House that Dallas Built on Derek Jeter Schlongfest Weekend, making an emphatic (if early) statement about the pecking order in the American League. Mike Fiers wasn’t even completely terrible, although the bullpen deserves some ridicule for allowing ten runs in Sunday’s doubleheader. That said, the Yanks are a good team, easily the best the Astros have played to date.
The Marlins, however, will be one of the worst teams the Astros have played. They have dropped six straight series and are just 4-14 during that span. That’s not even against good teams, either: five of those series losses were against teams that are currently under .500. Their bullpen isn’t all that bad, although they have only converted four out of their ten save opportunities (second worst rate in MLB). Their starting rotation is particularly terrible, with the third-worst ERA, second-fewest innings pitched, and most walks allowed in MLB. Coupled with an offense that is average or slightly worse, it’s easy to see how this team is 14-22.
Monday, May 15 – 6pm CDT
Joe Musgrove (2-3, 5.02) vs. Dan Straily (1-3, 4.03)
Musgrove’s quality start against the Braves was his second such outing of the year. He has not faced a single Marlins hitter.
“Dan Straily” and “top-of-rotation starter” aren’t necessarily things you expect to hear in the same sentence, but if the shoe fits…? Straily was quietly a 4.3 WAR pitcher for the Reds in 2016, turning in career lows in ERA (3.76) and WHIP (1.19). He’s actually notched the WHIP down even further this year, currently owning a 1.08 WHIP in seven starts. In his last start he held the Cardinals to one run over seven innings, only to have the bullpen barf up the lead.
Tuesday, May 16 – 6:10pm CDT
Dallas Keuchel (6-0, 1.69) vs. Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.60)
Keuchel has never faced the Marlins, but those with ABs against him have only managed one extra-base hit and a .603 OPS.
Koehler has been a decent MOR starter for the Marlins in recent years. In his best season (2014) he averaged about six innings per start and turned in a 3.81 ERA. His innings have been on the decline since then (he’s now averaging only five innings per start), which may be the biggest reason his ERA has risen. He has allowed at least three runs in all of his last six starts.
Wednesday, May 17 – 11:10am CDT
Lance McCullers, Jr. (3-1, 2.98) vs. Jose Urena (1-1, 1.98)
McCullers’s outing against the Yankees last Friday was his best, throwing six scoreless hittings while walking none and punching out seven.
I’m going to try to write this section while trying to ignore the fact that “Urena” sounds like a reproductive organ. He has split time between starting and relief work throughout his brief career with the Marlins, and he’s never been particularly good at either (6.13 combined ERA in 2016). It’s been a bit of a different story this year, and after some early long relief outings he was moved into the rotation when Wei-Yin Chen went on the DL last week. Urena’s two starts have both been quality starts, including six innings of one-hit shutout ball against the Mets. Despite being a hard thrower (his fastballs can touch 98-99) he doesn’t have dazzling strikeout numbers; he has a pedestrian 2:1 K:BB ratio this season, and even less for his career.