Friday night, the Houston Astros will put the best baseball trio in 15 years on the field in the battle for Texas against the Rangers.
In a season in which they dominate the league on the scoreboard, the Astros nevertheless remain desperate to win.
Despite Houston playing better against the rest of baseball, they compiled a 2-11 record against their intrastate rival, the Texas Rangers.
On paper, the Astros boast much better stats behind George Springer, likely MVP Jose Altuve, and clean-up hitter Carlos Correa — all of whom have ranked as some of the top 10 players in baseball according to Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and are the only team currently with three in the top 20.
WAR calculates that the last team to have three of the top 10 players in baseball was the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks, when slugger Luiz Gonzalez and the pitching duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling all ranked in the top 10.
The Astros have the pitching rotation lined up perfectly for this series and the final stretch match-up between the teams in Houston, September 12-14. The three pitchers that have shut down the Rangers once each in the last five match-ups between the teams will pitch in both series. As shown in the match-ups below, Fister beat them 3-1 on June 8 and defending Cy Young Award Winner Keuchel led 5-0 on August 5 for the Astros’ only two wins against 11 Rangers victories. Musgrove gave up one run in seven innings against the Rangers, only to have the bullpen blow the lead.
The Rangers have a 53-38 edge in runs in the 11 match-ups, but have won all six games decided by at least one. Analysts suggest teams with a lot of close wins are lucky, but the Rangers have done it all season and have the best record in one-run games in the history of baseball at 30-8, which Nate Silver’s group says cannot continue.
In the rest of their games, the Rangers compiled a 69-52 record despite barely outscoring their opponents 582-575. The Astros are virtually the same at 69-51, despite destroying their opponents 568-502. However, the 11-2 mark against the Astros gives the Rangers an 8 1/2 game lead and a virtual lock for the division title while Houston claws for a wild card spot.
The Rangers will field just one-top 20 player in long-time Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. However, they hope a combination of continued clutch play and balance keeps the Astros in the wild card picture. Adrian Beltre is the big bat and competed as a top-10 player in 2012 and 2014, and they hope Carlos Beltran can bring back a little of his Top 10 from his past days with Mets. In addition, Yu Darvish appears healthy for the stretch run to give them a one-two punch through the playoffs. Luckily for the Astros, they will face Darvish only once and Hamel not at all during the six remaining match-ups.
|Date||Winner||Texas Start/Decision||Sc||Houston Start/Decision||Sc|
|Tue, Apr 19||Rangers||Holland (2-0)||7||Feldman (0-2)||5|
|Wed, Apr 20||Rangers||Hamels (3-0)||2||Fister (1-2)||1|
|Thu, Apr 21||Rangers||Griffin (2-0)||7||Keuchel (2-2)||4|
|Fri, May 20||Rangers||Lewis (3-0)||2||McCullers (0-1)||1|
|Sat, May 21||Rangers||Ramos (1-2)||2||Fiers (3-2)||1|
|Sun, May 22||Rangers||Hamels (5-0)||9||Keuchel (2-6)||2|
|Mon, Jun 6||Rangers||Dyson (1-1)||6||Giles (0-3)||5|
|Tue, Jun 7||Rangers||Diekman (1-1)||4||Keuchel (3-8)||3|
|Wed, Jun 8||Astros||Wilhelmsen (2-3)||1||Fister (6-3)||3|
|Thu, Jun 9||Rangers||Perez (5-4)||5||McHugh (5-5)||3|
|Fri, Aug 5||Astros||Perez (7-8)||0||Keuchel (7-11)||5|
|Sat, Aug 6||Rangers||Kela (2-1)||3||Devenski (0-3)||2|
|Sun, Aug 7||Rangers||Bush (5-2)||5||Devenski (0-4)||3|
|Fri, Sep 2||8:05 PM||Griffin (6-3)||Fister (12-9)|
|Sat, Sep 3||4:05 PM||Holland (6-6)||Keuchel (9-12)|
|Sun, Sep 4||3:05 PM||Darvish (5-3)||Musgrove (2-2)|
|Mon, Sep 12||8:10 PM||Perez (9-10)||Fister (12-9)|
|Tue, Sep 13||8:10 PM||Holland (6-6)||Keuchel (9-12)|
|Wed, Sep 14||8:10 PM||Lewis (6-1)||Musgrove (2-2)|
|Total Runs||Texas Rangers||53||Houston Astros||38|