After taking three of four from a fading Marlins team, the Braves now host the bottom of the barrel: the Houston Astros. Losers of 26 out of the last 29, the Astros have reset their roster again after trading Carlos Lee, Chris Johnson, Brett Myers, and Wandy Rodriguez. With only one player born in the 1970′s on the entire 40-man roster, the kids will be out to continue the deep rebuilding effort in Houston.
Game 1 – Friday 7:35 ET – Armando Galarraga vs. Tim Hudson
Huddy looks to win his fourth straight start, even though he hasn’t exactly been stellar recently. Galarraga will be making his second start for the Astros, hoping to find a way to revive a sputtering career. This could be the road Jair Jurrjens is heading down, showing some statistically-fluky success in the majors before losing all ability to get hitters out. In 9 AAA starts this year, Galarraga had a 4.12 ERA but a 5.38 FIP, so runs should come aplenty tonight.
Game 2 – Saturday 7:10 ET – Lucas Harrell vs. Paul Maholm
Maholm makes his debut for Atlanta, hoping to continue a stretch of six starts of no more than one run allowed. Harrell has put together a nice season, inducing 55% groundballs and maintaining near-average walk and strikeout rates. The righty has shown enormous home/road splits this year, posting a 2.02 ERA at home and a 5.67 ERA on the road, suffering in every category except walks.
Game 3 – Sunday 1:35 ET – Bud Norris vs. Kris Medlen
Medlen makes his second start for Atlanta after posting five good innings on Tuesday against Miami. Norris had a great start to the season, but he hasn’t won a game since May, though he had a DL stint in June with a knee injury. The power pitcher also has huge home/road splits, also showing big lefty/righty splits.
The top of the Braves order has been fading lately. Martin Prado has been slumping for a month, while Michael Bourn has been scuffling the last week or so. Dan Uggla has still not returned to form, while everyone else is hitting really well. The Astros have been one of the worst pitching teams overall, and with the loss of Rodriguez and Myers, it’s not going to be any better. Facing three righties is just a bonus, though not as much of one as last year.
The Astros have been nearly as poor offensively, with the middle infield as the lone bright spot. Shortstop Jed Lowrie has been their best hitter, but he is out with a leg injury. 5’5″ 22-year-old Jose Altuve has made great strides this year, showing solid contact skills and deceptive power. Brett Wallace is also off to a hot start back from AAA. Jordan Schafer has made the Bourn trade look even better for the Braves, barely eclipsing a .300 OBP and SLG.
This series should keep the winning snowball going for the Braves. The Astros have been horrible lately, though you can really never expect a sweep. In general, this is a lull in the schedule that the Braves have taken advantage of so far. As long as the Braves don’t forget how to hit and/or pitch, the Braves will win this series, springboarding into another Phillies series.