Yankees @ Astros
July 25-27, 2016
I remember Sean Bergman. You might remember Sean Bergman. I’d bet that very few outside of this site remember Sean Bergman.
You probably shouldn’t remember Sean Bergman because he was an unremarkable starting pitcher for the Astros in the late 1990s. Before coming to the Astros in 1998 he was unremarkable for the Tigers and Padres. In 1998 he posted a career-best 12 wins and 3.72 ERA but was overshadowed by Shane Reynolds, Lima Time, and eventually Randy Johnson; in 1999 he was overshadowed by Reynolds, Lima, and Mike Hampton (in wins) and by Chris Holt (in losses). The Astros cut him during the 1999 stretch run, and although he was picked up by the Braves he did not make their postseason roster. He posted a 9+ ERA for the Twins in 2000, never pitched in the majors after that, and according to Wikipedia now coaches elementary school PE and middle school girls basketball in Ohio.
I think the only reason I remember Sean Bergman is because of a single game of his in 1999. Entering games on June 1, the Astros were in first place (but only barely, after having been swept by the fucking Pirates) and Bergman was not pitching as well as he had the previous year. Being 16 years old and fairly myopic, I made a prediction: Bergman would get his season back on track that night by throwing a complete game shutout and earning the win. He actually did precisely that… sort of: he threw seven scoreless innings at the old County Stadium in Milwaukee, and after the Astros broke a scoreless tie in the 7th the game was called in the top of the 8th due to rain. It was arguably his best start as an Astro and his last shutout starting appearance of his career.
The only reason I dredge up this sort-of-cool story about an unremarkable pitcher from two decades ago is because of the similarities in Alex Bregman’s and Sean Bergman’s last names. I’m not clinically dyslexic but my brain sees them as the same name. In fact, I almost wish that Bregman’s name was Bergman; “Bergman” rolls off the tongue a little easier and bears a strong resemblance to “Berkman”.
The storylines aren’t the same and the two guys appear to have very different career trajectories, but they’ll always be linked together in my head, just like cannibalism and the song “Farmer in the Dell”. And if the Baseball Gods are real, there can be only one outcome for Alex Bregman’s debut: he must pitch a complete game shutout.
Monday, July 25 – 7:10pm CDT
Michael Pineda (4-9, 5.25) vs. Dallas Keuchel (6-9, 4.70)
Pineda had an awful start to his season, including giving up six runs to the Astros in his season opener, and ended May at 2-6 with a 6.92 ERA. He has improved drastically since then, although he has had recent struggles against both types of Sox. He’s coming off six shutout innings and eight strikeouts against the Orioles.
Don’t look now, but Keuchel has strung together six straight quality starts, and with his last start in Oakland he would’ve won his fourth straight decision if not for a late bullpen collapse. It’s also well-documented that he loves him some pinstripe hitters: since 2014 he is 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA against Yankee lineups.
Tuesday, July 26 – 7:10pm CDT
CC Sabathia (5-8, 4.04) vs. Doug Fister (10-6, 3.42)
On June 16, Sabathia pitched six innings of one-run ball to beat the Twins and notch his ERA down to 2.20. Things have been pretty terrible for him in his six starts since, going 0-4 with a 7.46 ERA and nearly doubling his season ERA. Somehow he’s managed to pitch to the Astros only once since they joined the AL: in 2014 he got worked for six runs in as many innings. That’s not terribly meaningful but it is what it is.
Fister was nails in his last start in Oakland, pitching seven shutout innings en route to his 10th win of the year. He hasn’t faced the Yankees since 2013 and their roster has decent success against him over his career, hitting .288 with an .811 OPS.
Wednesday, July 27 – 7:10pm CDT
Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 3.00) vs. Lance McCullers (5-4, 3.33)
The Astros have never had too much trouble with Tanaka, beating him twice last year (including in the Wild Card Game) and scoring two runs off him on Opening Day this year. After an up-and-down month of June, Tanaka has had an excellent July (2-0, 1.48) and the Yanks have won seven straight starts of his.
Despite floundering very late in a 9th inning he probably shouldn’t have seen, McCullers’ last start was easily his best of the year, going 8+ innings and allowing only one run against the Angels. He has never faced the Yankees nor many of their hitters, but he does love himself some pitching at Minute Maid, where he is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA this season.