Texas Rangers: Dallas Keuchel
|Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace. |
Keuchel (6-9, 4.99 ERA): Keuchel is making his final start of the season. ... He is 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA in his last six starts and has allowed 43 hits in 34 innings over that span. ... Keuchel did pitch well in his last start Thursday against Cleveland, allowing one run in seven innings. He had seven strikeouts and walked only one. ... Opponents are batting .299 against him. ... Keuchel is 0-5 with an 11.10 ERA in six career road starts. ... He allowed a run in five innings in his only start against the Rangers.
Hitters: Adrian Beltre is 4-for-12 with two doubles against Keuchel. Chris Carter is 4-for-8 with two home runs and three RBIs against Perez.
Perez (4-3, 3.81): Perez comes off off a start in Anaheim in which he set several career highs ... He had seven strikeouts, four walks and 111 pitches, all the most in his young career ... The 22-year-old left-hander earned the victory in a 5-2 win over the Angels, allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings ... Perez is 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA for his last nine starts ... His four wins since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock on June 22 are tied for the team lead with Yu Darvish and Derek Holland ... Perez is 3-1 with a 5.46 ERA on the road since being recalled.
Keuchel (5-6, 4.96): Keuchel returns to the rotation after throwing 31 pitches out of the bullpen on Tuesday, his second unexpected long relief appearance ... The Astros are going with a six-man rotation ... The 25-year-old Keuchel last started on July 27, allowing six runs in 7 1/3 innings ... Keuchel allowed four runs in 2/3 innings in his outing on Tuesday against Boston ... Keuchel has faced the Rangers twice this season, allowing two earned runs in each start ... The Astros are 7-7 when Keuchel starts, their best record with anyone in the rotation.
Hitters: Perez has never faced Houston. Ian Kinsler is 3-for-8 against Keuchel.
The Rangers, who have made it back into a tie for the America League West lead, have a chance to push their way past Oakland in the standings by again dominating the Houston Astros in a four-game series that starts Friday at Minute Maid Park.
Texas has a pitching edge with Matt Garza, Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Yu Darvish slated to pitch against the Astros, who enter the series with a 37-76 record.
Here's what to watch for in Houston:
|Richard Durrett believes that the Rangers are better than the A's and that the Nelson Cruz suspension is a major reason why. |
Looking at lefties: Houston will throw a left-handed starter against the Rangers in three of the last four games. It starts Friday with Erik Bedard (3-8, 4.29 ERA). Bedard is 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA against the Rangers this season. After right-hander Brad Peacock (1-4, 7.25) on Saturday, the Astros will send out lefties Dallas Keuchel (5-6, 4.96) on Sunday and Brett Olberholtzer (2-0, 2.53) on Monday. Keuchel has made one start against the Rangers this season, allowing two earned runs in five innings.
Battling Astros: Houston nearly won a three-game series from American League East-leader Boston this week. The Astros took the lead into the ninth inning of Wednesday's rubber game, only to have Boston's Stephen Drew hit a three-run home run off new Houston closer Josh Fields for a 7-5 win. The Astros had a lead in all three games. They led 5-0 and 7-3 on Tuesday night before the Red Sox rallied for a 15-10 win at Minute Maid Park.
Sinking bullpen: Houston's bullpen hasn't been the same since closer Jose Veras was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Fields' blown save Wednesday night was the fourth in five opportunities for the Astros' bullpen. Since trading Veras, Houston's relief corps have a 6.58 ERA while allowing five home runs and 19 walks in 26 innings. The Astros are 30-4 when leading entering the ninth inning. The Rangers are 57-1.
Owning the West: The Rangers have obliterated AL West opponents this season. Texas is an MLB-best 33-14 against its division rivals -- including 11 wins in the last 13 games vs. AL West opponents after a road sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers are in a stretch of 19 of 22 games against the division. They are 8-1 so far.
Darvish (8-3, 2.78 ERA): Darvish ended a seven-game winless streak, pitching 6⅔ scoreless innings as the Rangers beat the Cincinnati Reds He is tied for ninth in the American League in wins Darvish leads the major leagues with 151 strikeouts and 11.99 strikeouts per nine innings Darvish already has the highest strikeout total prior to the All-Star break since the Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood had 156 K's His .190 batting average against is the second lowest in the majors behind the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (.189) Darvish is 15-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 24 career starts at Rangers Ballpark He is 3-0 with a 1.90 ERA and 33 strikeouts in three career starts against the Houston Astros Darvish fell one out short of a perfect game against Houston on April 2.
Keuchel (4-5, 4.66 ERA): Keuchel lost his last start, giving up five runs on 4⅔ innings in a 12-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays The 25-year-old left-hander allowed eight hits and five walks He opened the season pitching out of the Astros bullpen Keuchel had made nine straight starts before a relief appearance on June 25 The Astros are 5-5 in his starts Keuchel has been able to pitch deep into games, going six-plus innings seven straight times before the Tampa Bay debacle He is sixth in the American League with a 2.06 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio He has three career starts against the Rangers, in which he is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA.
Hitters: Matt Dominguez is 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBIs against Darvish. Nelson Cruz is 2-for-6 with a home run off Keuchel.
Ogando (3-2, 3.08): Ogando comes in off a win against Boston, allowing a run in six innings ... It snapped a stretch of four straight starts without a win for Ogando ... Ogando has dealt with very little run support as the Rangers are averaging 2.84 runs for his starts, fifth lowest in the American League ... He's received 12 runs in 38 innings pitched ... Ogando sparkled in his first start of the season at Houston, striking out 10 Astros ... He hasn't fanned more than five in five straight starts ... Ogando combined with four relievers for a five-hit shutout in a win over the Astros on April 3 ... The 10 strikeouts in that game were a career high ... Ogando is 1-0 with 0.96 ERA for three appearances against Houston ... Ogando's fastball command improved in his last start against the Red Sox and he walked only two batters and didn't give up a home run.
Keuchel (0-1, 4.96): Keuchel makes his first start after six relief appearances to begin the season ... Keuchel has made six relief appearances, two since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City last week ... He's allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings since returning to the Astros, including four runs in 4 1/3 innings to Detroit on May 2 ... Opponents are hitting .319 against Keuchel ... He has made one start in his career and that came last June against the Rangers when he gave up a run in five innings ... Keuchel allowed only four hits but also had four walks ... Keuchel wants to be a starter and he made 16 of them last season going 3-8 with a 5.27 ERA ... Keuchel is not a hard thrower, but he does have a good change-up that he keeps down in the strike zone.
Hitters: The Rangers that faced Keuchel last year were 4 for 14 against him. Jose Altuve is 1-for-4 with a double against Ogando.
Well sort of hot.
|Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit and wastes no time sounding off on MLB umpire Angel Hernandez. |
Here's some storylines to watch for this weekend as the Lone Star Series continues:
1. Rotation changes in H-Town: The Astros overhauled their starting rotation on Wednesday as rookie manager Bo Porter put left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Erik Bedard in the rotation and moved slumping right-hander Philip Humber in the bullpen. Porter admitted that part of the reshuffling has to do with a Rangers' lineup that is stacked with left-handed hitters. Though with catcher A.J. Pierzynski's trip to the 15-day disabled list and David Murphy's prolonged slump, the Rangers' should only have one left-handed batter in the lineup Friday and Saturday, first baseman Mitch Moreland. Keuchel, who makes his first start of the season Friday, is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in relief, but did limit the Rangers to a run in five innings in his only other career start last June.
2. Altuve an All-Star: Astros second baseman Jose Altuve looks like a lock to be the Astros' lone All-Star representative. He's fifth in the American League in batting with a .336 average. He has eight doubles and a slugging percentage of .453. He also has 17 RBIs, fourth among Al second basemen behind the Yankees' Robinson Cano (20), the Rangers' Ian Kinsler (20) and Tampa Bay's Kelly Johnson (18).
3. Strikeout kings: The Astros are still running away with the Major League lead in strikeouts with 353. That's 49 more than their closest pursuers, the Atlanta Braves. Houston is averaging just over 10 strikeouts per game. They had 33 Ks in the season-opening series against the Rangers, including 14 by Yu Darvish in his near perfect game. Alexi Ogando is pitching Friday's series opener and he had 10 strikeouts while opening night starter Matt Harrison, who is on the disabled list, had nine strikeouts in the Astros' lone win of the first series.
4. How about Marwin?: Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez broke up Yu Darvish's perfect game bid you might remember with a single under the pitcher's glove with two outs in the bottom of the ninth back on April 2. Gonzalez maintained a strong start for a while but has dipped to .253 for the season and only played in one of three games against the Angels. Gonzalez is 2-for-19 for May with two RBIs. He had his average as high as .321 on April 27.
Rangers domination: The Rangers are 16-4 against the Astros since 2010 and have won six of the last seven games against Houston. It should be a favorable setting for the Rangers at Minute Maid Park with Texas fans sure to turn out for Yu Darvish in droves on Saturday night, hoping for another magical night.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.