Houston Astros (84-75)
@ Arizona Diamondbacks (78-81)
Five pitchers for the Astros have played for the Diamondbacks! In this series, will we see Oliver Perez, Joe Thatcher, Will Harris, Tony Sip, and Chad Qualls? I would be delighted to see them!
Although the Astros have targeted 2016 for reaching the post-season, they saw an opportunity this year. They acquired Scott Kazmir, Mike Fiers, and Carlos Gomez to boost their quest. A question to ponder is, "Did these players make a positive impact?" Kazmir started 13 games, winning twice, losing six games, and 5 no decisions. Fiers started 9 games, winning twice, losing once, and 6 no decisions. Center Fielder Gomez had his RBIs go down from 0.58 per game to 0.32 per game with the Astros.
The Astros have a very narrow lead (1 game) for the second wild card space in the American League. In this series against the Astros, the Diamondbacks will impact whether the Astros, instead of Angels or Twins, play in the post-season. This series has impact!
In the last 8 days, the two best hitters for the Astros were Chris Carter (6 RBIs, .385 BA) and Carlos Correa (5 RBIs, .269 BA).
In the last 8 days, the two best hitters for the Diamondbacks were: AJ Pollock (5 RBIs, .208 BA) and Paul Goldschmidt (4 RBIs, .318 BA). Honorable mention goes to Ender Inciarte, Philip Gosselin, and Welington Castillo.
Let's look at the current five starting pitchers’ DRAs, ERAs, and Shoewizard’s AVG-WAR.
|Rubby De La Rosa||4.74||4.56||1.0|
Let’s look at the pitching matchups for the series.
Friday. Rubby De La Rosa (4.74 DRA, 4.56 ERA) vs Dallas Keuchel (2.66 DRA, 2.47 ERA).
2015 is Dallas Keuchel’s fourth and best season performance. This game could be his 20th win. 20 wins would be like icing on his cake. He earned a gold glove in 2014. He is talented and motivated!
Rubby De La Rosa bounced back from the two inning game, earning a win in each of his latest two games. Inside the Zona had an interesting article that discussed his pitch selection. The hottest two Astro batters (Carter and Correa) have hit 3 RBIs in their 5 ABs against De La Rosa.
Advantage to Astros.
Saturday. Jeremy Hellickson (4.82 DRA, 4.60 ERA) vs Collin McHugh (4.12 DRA, 3.98 ERA).
Collin McHugh is an inconsistent pitcher who somehow wins more than his share of games. In about a third of his games he allows 1 run or less, another third is 3 runs or less, and the last third are 4 runs or more.
The hottest two Astro batters (Carter and Correa) have hit 4 RBIs in their 5 ABs against Jeremy Hellickson. His advanced pitching statistics show he has been unlucky this season. Will lady luck visit him? As a woman, she is unpredictable. Let’s see what happens!
Advantage to lady luck.
Sunday. Robbie Ray (4.06 DRA, 3.50 ERA) vs To Be Announced.
Looking at pitching for the entire season, Robbie Ray has demonstrated he is the leading Diamondback pitcher. He has held the hottest two Astro batters (Carter and Correa) to 1 hit in their 5 ABs.
Possibly, Lance McCullers will pitch for the Astros. He is a 22 year old rookie and has an ERA of 3.21. He could keep the game close.
Slight advantage to Diamondbacks.
Recent Impact Players
The Diamondbacks won a close game against the Giants. Rubby De La Rosa pitched 5.2 innings with zero earned runs. Ziegler earned his 27th save.
The Diamondbacks won a close game against the Padres. ZackGodley pitched 3 innings with zero earned runs. Ender Inciarte had 3 RBIs. Ziegler earned his 29th save.
The Diamondbacks won three close games to sweep the Rockies! Philip Gosselin hit a walk-off single in the first game, a sac-fly in the second game, and a home run in the third game - similar to a hat trick in hockey because no scoreless games intervened. In one game Silvino Bracho did not allow two inherited runners to score while pitching 1.2 scoreless innings, then in another he earned his first save. Chase Anderson pitched 5.1 innings while allowing one earned run. Welington Castillo had three RBIs in the last game of the series.
Last Series in the Regular Season
With three games left, the Diamondbacks will complete the season with between 78 and 81 wins. Happy hoots! Optimists rule! The series will decide whether the Astros, instead of Angels or Twins, play in the post season.
You are reading my last series preview of the season for the Diamondbacks. Let me allay your possible concern – I will continue writing. I enjoyed writing previews every two weeks - it was fun and a challenge. A part of the previews that I hope you liked was "Food of the Series." My overall goals were to provide reflective and thought-provoking perspectives and entertain you, the reader. I am grateful for the opportunity Jim gave me.
You likely have noticed – I certainly have – that Nate Rowan and Pirate Dan, the other two series preview writers, are awesome. This season, it was my honor and privilege to work with the very talented writers of the Arizona Snakepit, and especially Jim McLennan.
Food of the Series
I’m sure it happened between 1885 and 1904 - the beginnings of the food of the series. From the murky beginnings, the food of the series has grown in popularity and is often served at sporting events, including baseball games. Similarly, I’m sure it happened in 2015 – the beginnings of the Diamondbacks world class team.
Fletcher Davis served ground beef between two pieces of Texas Toast, and he called it a beef sandwich. It became popular. By the late 1880s it was on his menu. Twenty years later, many people were making variations of these sandwiches, which became known as hamburgers. Texas Toast is made with thick bread brushed with a mixture of butter and garlic, which is toasted on a grill until golden. Texas Toast adds a buttery crunch to a hamburger!
Every fan has his or her favorite ingredients in a hamburger, such as catchup, pickle slices, relish, tomatoes, and onions. Similarly, every fan has favorite players (Goldschmidt, Pollock, …) and favorite ways of playing (aggressive base-running, defensive shifts, pitching style, …). The Diamondbacks are developing a unique set of players and styles on their journey to becoming world class. Instead of playing catchup, now is the time for fans to relish their favorites!
In recognition of each fan’s favorites, there is no better food of the series than hamburgers!