July 6, 2010

Series Preview: Houston Astros

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / July 6, 2010

With the Pirates at 32-50 my best guess is they'll have to go 57-25 the rest of the way to make the playoffs. This will be quite an exciting stretch run, which began by taking three of four from the defending NL champion Phillies over the weekend. The Pirates' train rolls on with a three game series in Houston.

Houston Astros - Tuesday 8:05, Wednesday 8:05, Thursday 2:05
Today's model Carmen Silguero apologizes for the recent lack of previews.

While the Pirates' record is clearly a fluke performance by a championship caliber team, at 32-51 the Houston Astros are legitimately one of baseball's worst teams. Lance Berkman (.243/.356/.414) is still getting on base with 42 walks, but looks like he's clearly on the downside of his career. He's one of only three Astros starters with an on base percentage above .300. Former slugger Carlos Lee (.232/.279/.379) has been awful and Pedro Feliz (.224/.249/.309) ranks as one of the offseason's worst free agent signings. The Astros owe Lee another $46 million through 2012.

Tonight the Astros go with Wandy Rodriguez (5-10, 5.30) against the Pirates' Brad Lincoln (1-2, 4.65). Nobody told Wandy that this is the Year of the Pitcher. He was one of the NL's best starters last year with a 3.02 ERA in 206 innings, but like Houston's other '09 stars his performance has fallen off a cliff. Brad Lincoln took some time getting adjusted to the major league level but has put up three quality starts in a row including a seven inning, zero run performance at Chicago. This 11-32 road record has to turn around sometime. My pick is the Pirates.

In what is clearly one of the season's best pitching matchups, the Astros go with Brian Moehler (1-4, 5.20) Wednesday against Daniel McCutchen (1-3, 8.87). Really it is quite remarkable that Moehler is in a big league rotation considering his only good season was in 1998. McCutchen's ERA looks ugly but hidden in there is an 0.00 ERA, 18 K/9 career performance against the Astros in a huge sample size of one inning. My pick is the Pirates.

Thursday afternoon, the Astros go with their ace Roy Oswalt (5-10, 3.32) against Ross Ohlendorf (1-6, 4.39). Ohlendorf has been pitching well for over a month and finally got his well deserved first win against Philadelphia. Oswalt, who finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five times, is again one of baseball's best pitchers and hasn't struck out so many batters since his rookie year in 2001. He'll have plenty of time to win games with the Yankees. My pick is the Pirates.

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