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Series #12: Athletics versus Astros - Taking Advantage of Stumbling ‘Stros

MLB: Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Astros’ Current Record: 21-15, one game behind the Angels, two games ahead of the A’s. They are 4-6 over their last ten games.

Possible Lineup:

CF - George Springer

2B - Jose Altuve

SS - Carlos Correa

RF - Josh Reddick

DH- Yuli Gurriel

3B - Alex Bregman

C - Brian McCann

1B - Marwin Gonzalez

LF - Derek Fisher

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Dallas Keuchel

Lance McCullers Jr

Gerrit Cole

Recent Bullpen Usage:

The Astros’ bullpen was only lightly used over the weekend, its lone lefty not even being used, and should be at full strength for this upcoming series.

Hottest Hitter(s):

As evidenced by their current cold-spell, the Astros haven’t hit all too well of late. The team’s power has all but evaporated despite playing in very hitter-friendly parks, and really only Yuli Gurriel, with eleven hits over the past week, and the steady presence that is Carlos Correa have been effective at the plate.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Longtime veteran Evan Gattis, and up-and-coming newcomer Derek Fisher each haven’t managed to hit .180, let alone the Mendoza line, with almost no power between the two of them.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

The Astros starting staff is just as strong as ever, but recently Justin Verlander has been a head and shoulder above everyone else on the team, earning twenty-two strikeouts versus just three walks in fourteen innings during his last two starts. In Gerrit Cole’s most recent start, he tossed a sixteen-strikeout-one-hitter.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Ken Giles and Will Harris have each blown up in the last week or so, and have let just about every baserunner reach. The remaining components of the Astros’ bullpen are well rested and primed for game-time action, so there are still plenty of key pieces that can be used in lieu of those two.

Key Injuries:

The Astros have been perfectly healthy this year, so there are no excuses if the team underperforms at anything.

* * *

Despite the offense all but disappearing against the weakest pitching staff in the majors, the A’s won the games they had to win before the going gets tough, and at the very least get to ease into the most difficult stretch of their season by playing at home. The offensive slump the team is currently mired in is largely due to the Matts in the middle of the order, plus Khris Davis, all slumping simultaneously. However, Matt Chapman’s pitch selection and plate discipline is still excellent and Matt Olson’s power has shown several signs of coming back. Khris Davis has been streaky for his entire career, and is due for a hot streak eventually.

The A’s are also catching the Astros at a good time. For as good as the team is, they’ve also struggled offensively over the last week, and have fallen a game back of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West standings. Houston is better than they have played, but it is nice knowing that a tough stretch of games may just be a tad easier because the opposition is, ever-so-slightly, spinning its tires in the mud. The starting pitching has still been good enough to ensure that the Astros will have a chance to win each game, but hopefully the A’s can keep their winning streak going a while longer.

The A’s will be facing the same three pitchers than they did in their last series against the Astros.

Game #35: Monday, May 7th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, ATT Sportsnet SW,

Brett Anderson versus Dallas Keuchel

Brett Anderson looks to build off of his successful first start of the year with his old team. With him and Trevor Cahill both pitching like its 2010, the starting rotation looks a lot less thin than it did a month prior. The A’s bats will seek to hit some more long balls against Keuchel, who is still searching for the stuff that made him so dominant before.

Game #36: Tuesday, May 8th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, ATT Sportsnet SW,

Sean Manaea versus Lance McCullers Jr

Hopefully Manaea can right the ship after his first poor outing of the season his last time out, ideally returning to his new normal. In his start versus the A’s, McCullers was dominant, only giving up two singles in seven innings pitched, so Manaea will have to be at his best to try and carry the team passed the Astros.

Game #37: Wednesday, May 9th, 1:05 - NBCSCA, ATT Sportsnet SW,

Daniel Mengden versus Gerrit Cole

If the A’s surprise and win the first two games of this series, the A’s could surpass the Astros in the standings with another win on Wednesday. That will be no tall task, however, as Gerrit Cole has been nearly unhittable since being traded to Houston.