INDIANS @ ASTROS
May 19-21, 2017
The Astros kick off a 10-game homestand against the Indians, Tigers, and Orioles. After spending much of the month of May pounding sub-.500 teams, they’re also starting a stretch of 22 out of 26 games against teams that are, at the time of this writing, at or above .500 on the season.
What happened in the last series?
Cleveland (20-19) dropped a midweek series to the Rays and come to Houston having lost three straight series. They are 8-10 since taking two of three from the Astros in April. Their bullpen is still excellent, but their starters have nudged a little worse since we last saw them: with a starters ERA of 5.15, only the Reds are worse, and 18 losses from the rotation (T-2nd worst in MLB) show that the team isn’t digging out of very many holes their starters dig them.
That could be a problem when they’re facing an Astros team that has gotten better at scoring earlier in games. Since their trip to Cleveland, Houston (29-12) has turned into a rolling ball of knives, going 15-4 and coming off a sweep of a listless Marlins team in Miami. They start the weekend with a 7.5 game division lead over those fuckers in the metroplex.
Friday, May 19 – 7:10pm CDT
Trevor Bauer (3-4, 6.92) vs. Charlie Morton (5-2, 3.97)
The Astros got their only win of the season series against Bauer, scoring four runs in six innings. He has continued to struggle with consistency: the Tigers lit him up for seven runs on May 1, and he still has not allowed fewer than two runs in a game.
Morton racked up ten K’s against the Yanks and he has wins in four straight starts. The Cleveland lineup is full of small sample sizes (NTTAWWT) against Morton; those who faced him did so in his only career start against the Indians in 2015, when he lost a quality start. But, for what it’s worth, they are a combined .118/.250/.118 against him.
Saturday, May 20 – 3:10pm CDT
Mike Clevinger (1-1, 2.61) vs. Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.75)
Clevinger came up from the minors when Corey Kluber went on the DL and has made two starts and one relief appearance. Don’t let his ERA fool you… there’s some potential here. In his first start he tossed 5.2 shutout innings against an awful Kansas City lineup that is dead last in many offensive categories. Then he got pulled in the 5th inning after allowing three runs to a Twins lineup that isn’t much better at scoring runs. Between those two starts he has walked nine batters.
All things considered, Fiers actually didn’t do that bad against the Yankees and was in line for a win before Harris and Devenski went supernova. Too bad.
Oddly enough, this is a repeat of a matchup between the Astros and Indians in Cleveland last September. Clevinger got the start as the Tribe deployed a starter-by-committee approach for the game. The Astros scratched out a run in the first on Clevinger and went on to win 6-2, with Fiers picking up his 10th win after five innings of two-run ball. It was also Fiers’s second win against the Indians last season, having held them to one run over seven innings earlier in the year.
Sunday, May 21 – 1:10pm CDT
Danny Salazar (2-4, 5.66) vs. Joe Musgrove (3-3, 4.57)
Like Bauer, Salazar has struggled with consistency (the good kind, at least). He’s usually good for 5-6 innings and about three runs per start, although he’s allowed five runs in consecutive starts and just gave up a Fiersian four home runs to the Rays. He did have a good outing against the Astros last year, working five innings while allowing a run and striking out ten. That game turned into the 16-inning marathon the Astros ended up winning.
Musgrove fell one out short of back-to-back quality starts, holding the Marlins to one run over 5.2 innings. He has not yet pitched against the Indians.