Carlos Gomez’s Sloppy Seconds @ Chris Carter’s Sloppy Seconds
April 8-10, 2016
Must not panic.
What’s up with the pitching staff? Through three games the Astros have a MLB-worst 9.36 ERA and have a couple of guys that could deservedly be referred to as Refined Petroleum Product Storage Apparatuses. Sure didn’t see that coming. Since it’s still way too early to hit the panic button, I choose to delude myself and blame the staff’s rocky start on the following factors, in no particular order:
- Early season jitters
- Weather delays, postponements, and generally unfavorable conditions
- Players still getting tuned up
- Bud Selig (on principle)
- Angel Hernandez (on principle)
- That abominable Austin Automotive Specialists radio commercial
Don’t judge me.
The offense, on the other hand, is off to a strong start. Despite finally looking human at the plate on Thursday, Carlos Correa is in early beast mode form. Tyler White has a hitting streak for his career. Preston Tucker is more than adequately holding down the DH slot in Evan Gattis’s absence. Carlos Gomez finally showed signs of life Thursday after some shameful ABs earlier in the series. Springer (salami notwithstanding) and a kinder, gentler, more patient Altuve are having their fits and starts, but… it’s early.
With any luck, a middling Brewers team and the guarantee of (at worst) climate-controlled games could be a good opportunity to shake off the rust in the Rust Belt. The Brewers got shelled 12-3 on Opening Day, dropped a 2-1 decision on Tuesday, and eked out a 4-3 win on Wednesday. Despite being bottom-third in runs scored their overall offensive production is firmly middle of the pack and is actually quite comparable to the Astros’. Aside from the Opening Day shenanigans the Brewers pitching hasn’t been bad.
Friday, April 8 – 7:10pm CDT
Scott Feldman (2015: 5-5, 3.90) vs. Chase Anderson (2015: 6-6, 4.30)
I said as much in my last series preview, but I was a big fan of Feldman’s work in 2015. Keuchel, McCullers, and McHugh stole the spotlight from him and deservedly so, but he turned in a lot of solid yet understated pitching performances, gobbling innings (completed the 6th inning in all but five games) and dropping his ERA by a full run over the summer before his shoulder gave out. He’s in the walk year of a front-loaded contract so he could be a huge value to the Astros this year (either on the field or as trade bait) if he can put up similar numbers. He turned in a decent spring training performance so we’ll have to see how the shoulder is holding up.
Anderson, a newcomer to the Brewers, battled injuries in the second half of 2015 for Arizona and struggled with consistency, watching his sub-3 June ERA rise to 4.52 in early September. He was slated to be the Brewers’ #5 but got moved up in the rotation since Matt Garza was placed on the DL. Since this is only Anderson’s third season in the bigs he has never faced the Astros, and he had a horrific spring (16 ER in 14+ innings and a .409 opponents’ batting average).
Saturday, April 9 – 6:10pm CDT
Doug Fister (2015: 5-7, 4.19) vs. Willy Peralta (0-1, 9.00)
The Astros’ newest acquisition in the rotation gets his first start of the season after a very unimpressive spring. Fister was hardly terrible (or even bad) in 2015, and the Astros are hoping that he’ll return to the 3.50-ish ERA guy he has been in the past. He did face the Brew Crew once last year and it did not go well, surrendering four runs (three earned) in just over an inning in relief.
Peralta was the main perpetrator of the Brewers’ opening loss, giving up 4 ER in as many innings before getting chased. He had a rough spring (6+ ERA), missed a huge chunk of time in 2015, and was consistently inconsistent before and after his injury. That he was the Brewers’ Opening Day starter says a lot about the state of the Brewers’ pitching staff coming into the season.
Sunday, April 10 – 1:10pm CDT
Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 2.57) vs. Jimmy Nelson (0-1, 2.45)
I can give Dallas a pass for his early trouble in New York on Tuesday. Hell, I wouldn’t want to be out there throwing an ice-cold ball of leather in 20mph winds. (Then again, I am grossly nonathletic.) It didn’t take him too long to settle in once the damage was done, and he ended up lasting seven innings when such a thing looked extremely unlikely after the first three. With a start under his belt and much more agreeable conditions, I expect him to be closer to his true form. He has never pitched against the Brewers, but rumor has it that Chris Carter is 7×9 against him in intrasquad slow-pitch softball from Carter’s time on the Astros.
Nelson made some strides in his first full big league season for the Brewers in 2015 and tossed a pretty good game against the Giants earlier this week. He pitched into the 8th and the only real trouble he got into was a solo homer in the 3rd and allowing just one run in a 4th inning, bases loaded, no-out jam. He also threw a pretty impressive 1.17 ERA in four spring starts. This could be a pretty good pitching showdown.