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Oakland A's vs. Houston Astros series preview: Don't call them LAstros

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The Oakland Athletics return home for three games against the Houston Astros, who are to be respected.

Carlos Correa scores.
Carlos Correa scores.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The only thing I will mention about how poorly the Astros are doing is their record. They're 7-15. All that record means is that they have a hole to dig out of, but they still have the quality to do it.

Take, for example, the awards the Astros have won already. A Houston Astro has held at least a share of AL Player of the Week honors every week of this season, with Tyler White, Jose Altuve and Colby Rasmus taking those honors.

Indeed, the top Astros are hitting really well. Jose Altuve leads with a 207 wRC+ and is socking dingers like crazy. Colby Rasmus somehow has more home runs (7) and a 192 wRC+. They have some players who are struggling at the moment, like Carlos Gomez and Evan Gattis, but you better bet they'll be raring to come alive this series. It's up to the A's to put the Astros away instead of letting them get over their slump. Let them beat up on the next guys.

Probable pitching matchups and broadcast schedule

There are promotions all weekend, so it should be a pretty well-attended series against the Astros. All games are on CSN California:

Time (PT) TV Houston Oakland Coliseum promotions
Fri. 7:05 PM CSNCA RHP Mike Fiers (2-1, 5.73) LHP Sean Manaea (MLB debut) Pet Calendar (10,000 fans)
Sat. 1:05 PM CSNCA RHP Chris Devenski (0-0, 0.66 as RP) RHP Jesse Hahn (2016 debut) Sean Doolittle Metallica Gnome (15,000 fans)
Sun. 1:05 PM CSNCA RHP Doug Fister (1-3, 5.56) RHP Kendall Graveman (1-2, 4.03) Elephant Socks (15,000 fans)
Friday vs. Mike Fiers

Last year's no-no guy for the Astros is off to a rough start, allowing six home runs in four starts. His last start was his best by game score, striking out six, walking two, and not allowing a run in 5 1/3 innings.

Against the A's last year, Fiers struck out 15 and walked six in three starts while allowing four home runs, ending up with a 3.57 ERA in 17 2/3 innings.

Saturday vs. Chris Devenski

They call Devenski "The Dragon." The Houston Chronicle explains the nickname came out of a mound visit from Corpus Christi Hooks manager Rodney Linares when Devenski was in some trouble:

"Jefe, I got him," Devenski said.

"All right," Linares said before walking back to the dugout. "You know what I want you to do? I want you to unleash the dragon."

Devenski has been throwing a 94 MPH fastball, change, slider, curve combo in his relief appearances for Houston. While Devenski benefits from not facing batters two or three times, they've all been rated as plus pitches so far.

One has to wonder if Devenski will be on a pitch limit. In his last appearance on April 24, he threw 41 pitches, a regular season high. He did throw 75 pitches in a March 26 spring training start for the Astros.

Sunday vs. Doug Fister

Like Fiers, Doug Fister is also struggling in the early going, though he is at least finishing the fifth inning in all of his starts. Really, he's only had one really bad start, allowing six runs to the Royals in 5 2/3 innings on April 14. Otherwise it's been two or three runs allowed over five or six innings. One thing to watch is whether Fister will continue to give up walks, having conceded seven in his last start against the Mariners.

Bullpens

I was making the point earlier in the week on Twitter about how strange it was for Jeff Luhnow to choose the trade route to acquire bullpen help, obtaining Ken "100 Miles" Giles instead of just spend money on the bullpen, as the A's did. Giles is off to a bad start, and he doesn't even have a Hendriksian FIP to say it's just bad luck. He's allowed three home runs and four walks in 9 2/3 innings for aa 5.49 FIP and 7.45 ERA. He has struck out 14 batters, however. Pray that the A's remember how to take a walk.

Both sides have eight-men bullpens, though that means the Astros only have a three-man bench tonight while the A's are taking advantage of a one-day advantage by calling up Andrew Triggs before presumably sending him back down to let Jesse Hahn come up.

Astros bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 28-Apr 27-Apr 26-Apr 25-Apr 24-Apr 23-Apr
Luke Gregerson R 9.0 2.00 3.11
O
F
F

D
A
Y
18 19
Ken Giles R 9.2 7.45 5.49 19 33 19
Will Harris R 11.0 0.82 1.38 22 10 11
Pat Neshek R 6.2 2.70 5.06 3 14
Tony Sipp L 7.2 4.70 7.41 11 20
Josh Fields R 9.1 7.71 2.36 11 11
Scott Feldman R 19.2 4.58 5.44 103
Michael Feliz R 5.1 15.19 10.04 42
A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 28-Apr 27-Apr 26-Apr 25-Apr 24-Apr 23-Apr
Ryan Madson R 10.2 1.69 1.89 11
Sean Doolittle L 10.0 3.60 6.41 14 16
John Axford R 11.0 0.82 2.01 28
Ryan Dull R 12.2 2.13 2.95 43 19
Fernando Rodriguez R 15.0 1.20 2.24 37 12 20
Marc Rzepczynski L 9.0 1.00 2.77 26 6 19
Andrew Triggs R 1.0 0.00 1.10 14 29
Liam Hendriks R 11.2 9.26 3.19 43 26 29