(McHugh, Fiers and Feldman to face Boston this weekend.)
It’s Thursday, April 21. Sunny morning skies warm New England in anticipation of a beautiful day game at Fenway with the Rays facing their old mate and new Sox starting stud, David Price.
This a getaway day in the Bigs. Subscribers to MLBTV may cheat the boss while grazing on day games in Atlanta (v LAD), Miami (v WAS), San Fran (AZ), Cleveland (SEA), Chicago-AL (LAA) and the aforementioned Tampa at Boston game.
Braves fans get a special treat. Kershaw brings his 1.64 ERA and bustin’ curveball to Turner Field.
Reds fans see another Cy-worthy hurler under the sun with the gutty Jake Arieta (1.23 ERA) seeking to extend his record to 4-0.
So boot up the I-Pad and MLB At Bat. Get a slice of your $109 annual investment. Think about how much money you are saving versus taking a day off and paying $60 to sit wedged into a Fenway seat sized for Robert Reich.
I’ll keep an eye on the games but it is the Sox at Houston series this weekend that I am wondering about.
Houston is 5 – 10 and has lost 7 of their last 10. Why are these early results for this team, a fashionable prediction to make it to the playoffs, so poor thus far?
Let’s take a look at this mixed bag.
3x AS Jose Altuve (1 GG, 1 BA Champ) is batting .310 and leads the AL in SB’s with 7. True rookie (1B) Tyler White is batting .340 with 5 dingers. (Project that to 54 for the year, giddy Astro fans.) Colby Rasmus (OF) and Carlos Correa (SS) are nice players that continue to perform better than their numbers. Dallas Keuchel is pitching great with a 2-1 record and a 2.11 ERA, going almost 7 IP’s in each of 3 starts. Closer Luke Gregerson has yet to allow a run in 5 appearances. (WHIP 0.600). Set up man Will Harris has been great out of the Pen. (1.29 ERA).
All that said…..the last-place Astros are scoring an average of 3 runs per game in their 10 losses — and allowing 10 to be scored against them. Altuve, White, Rasmus and Correa aside, the offense is weak, particularly in 3 lineup spots: Jason Castro, Luis Valbuena and Carlos Gomez. These guys are batting .189 combined with 0 HR’s and 7 runs scored. They are not supposed to be .300 hitters, but their track records show they can contribute and have occasional power, too.
The Sox will get a big break by not having to face Keuchel this weekend. The likely match-ups will be Colin McHugh (6.39 ERA) vs. Steven Wright (2.13) on Friday; Mike Fiers (6.48) vs. Buchholz (5.74) on Saturday; and Scott Feldman (4.11) versus a mystery starter for the Bostons on Sunday.
I love the Friday matchup. 31 year old knuckleballer Wright has turned in two of the best starts of the year.
I love the Saturday match up, too. Buch is coming off a sterling start. McHugh looks shaky. Buch, as you know, is a Texan, just like Nolan Ryan. McHugh is from Mt. Berry, GA, a town named for a woman known as the Sunday Lady of Possum Trot. Yeah…you read that right. This game is Nolan Ryan versus Possum Trot. Fuhgettaboudit.
I even like the Sunday match-up. Right off the bat, we get the pleasure of facing a known suspect in shaky Scott Feldman. Somewhere on the gestaltic periphery of my memory I recall seeing Feldman taking several beatings, like a snake trying to fight off a mongoose in his days with the O’s. Bring him.
Choosing the Sunday mystery starter should be easy, but it won’t be. It’s been reported there are three choices: Elias, Owens or Johnson, all now in Pawtucket.
Roenis Elias arrived in Boston in the 12-7-15 trade that sent Wade Miley to Seattle. The 27 year old Cuban lefty has made 51 MLB starts in the last 2 seasons for the M’s, registering a 3.97 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP. In 2 starts versus Houston in 2015, he went a combined 11 and two-thirds innings and allowed 2 earned runs.
Henry Owens is option number 2. The 23 year old Huntington Beach (CA) lefty made 11 starts for the Sox in 2015, sported a 4.57 ERA and made very good starts against Detroit, KC, NYM, Toronto, and twice against Baltimore.
Brian Johnson is option #3. The 25 year old lefty from Cocoa Beach (FL) has appeared in only one MLB game, having started against the Astros in Houston on 7-21-15. In that game, BJ walked 4, allowed 3 hits, 4 ER and failed to baffle few batters.
Owens and Johnson are pitching well in Pawtucket while Elias has looked ineffective.
I’m on the fence. If I was Farrell, I’d be drawn to Elias due to his longer MLB track record but might go with Owens because he’s going better in R.I. and his 2015 pitching in the bigs was often very good.
So, here’s my prediction: The Sox go with Owens. The Sox get good starts from Wright, Buch and the mystery man. The Sox sweep 3 games in the Space City.