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Cleveland Indians vs. Houston Astros series preview

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The Indians begin their quest to return to the postseason with a visit to Minute Maid Park to take on the Houston Astros.

George Springer and Jose Altuve look to lead the Astros.
George Springer and Jose Altuve look to lead the Astros.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The first road trip of the year is to Houston's Minute Maid Park to face the Astros for three games over four days.

  • Monday: 7:00 ET (Kluber vs. Kuechel) ESPN
  • Wednesday: 8:10 ET (Carrasco vs. Feldman)
  • Thursday: 8:10 ET (Bauer vs. Wojciechowski)

The Tribe then returns home for the home opener against the Tigers. The first homestand concludes with two games against the White Sox next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Division Watch: Twins at Tigers, White Sox at Royals.

Team in a Box

Houston Astros

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2014 Record

70-92

Runs/Game

3.9

14th

Runs/Game

4.5

12th

AL West

4th

OBP

309

13th

H/9

9.0

10th

Last 10

-

SLG

383

8th

BB/9

3.0

11th

Last 30

-

Steals

122

2nd

SO/9

7.1

13th

The Indians took five of seven from the Astros in 2014, including three of four in Houston in mid-September.

There are signs that the doldrums in Houston are dissipating. They finally broke a three-year streak of 100+ losses, but still haven't finished with a winning record since 2006. Jose Altuve is an All-Star and George Springer is another exciting young player. The farm system is deep and almost ready to fill the roster.

Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

Jason Castro

L

512

222

651

84

1B

Chris Carter

R

572

227

799

123

2B

Jose Altuve

R

707

341

830

135

3B

Luis Valbuena

L

547

249

776

116

SS

Jed Lowrie

S

566

249

676

93

LF

Colby Rasmus

L

376

225

735

103

CF

Jake Marisnick

R

186

272

669

85

RF

George Springer

R

345

231

804

127

DH

Evan Gattis

R

401

263

810

125

OF

Robbie Grossman

S

422

233

670

95

IF

Marwin Gonzalez

S

310

277

727

108

IF

Jonathan Villar

S

289

209

620

74

C

Hank Conger

R

260

221

618

82

There are some really tough outs in this lineup with Altuve, Springer and Carter, who had a fantastic 2014. Gattis was a smart pickup, but the rest of the lineup is still unproven. LGFT Valbuena takes over at third base until one of the prospects is ready. Lowrie also looks to be a stop gap until uber-prospect Carlos Correa is called up. Both Altuve and Marisnick had great slash lines against us last year, but they were the only ones.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

Dallas Keuchel

L

2.93

3.21

200.0

1.175

6.6

Scott Feldman

R

3.74

4.11

180.1

1.303

5.3

Asher Wojciechowski#

R

4.74

-

76.0

1.447

7.0

Collin McHugh

R

2.73

3.11

154.2

1.022

9.1

Roberto Hernandez

R

4.10

4.85

164.2

1.391

5.7

Luke Gregerson

R

2.12

3.24

72.1

1.009

7.3

Chad Qualls

R

3.33

3.13

51.1

1.149

7.5

Pat Neshek

R

1.87

2.37

67.1

0.787

9.1

Tony Sipp

L

3.38

2.93

50.2

0.888

11.2

Will Harris

R

4.34

3.20

29.0

1.241

10.9

Joe Thatcher

L

3.86

3.43

30.1

1.319

8.0

Samuel Deduno

R

4.47

4.31

100.2

1.421

7.4

# Stats with Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA)

This has the start of a pretty good young rotation. Keuchel is the ace had a fine 2014, luckily, the Tribe missed him in both series. He is a lefty, and could neutralize the Tribe hitters. Feldman has two more years on a team friendly deal. He was really good in his start against Cleveland last year, only one run in eight innings in a no-decision. Wojciechowski is the surprise name here, as both Brad Peacock and Brett Oberholtzer open the year on the DL. He will be making his major league debut on Thursday. He is MLB's #23 prospect for the Astros. It is shame we will miss Fausto this series.

Gregerson gives them a solid closer to fortify the back end of a bullpen, which also includes a new face in Neshek. LGFT Sipp had a really good 2014 as well. I would recommend that the Tribe get ahead early because scoring on the top four guys might prove to be problematic.

On the Shelf

  • RP Josh Fields [15 day DL], possible April return
  • SP Brett Oberholtzer [15 day DL], possible April return
  • SP Brad Peacock [15 day DL], possible April return

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

-

-

-

-

-

-

2014

5

2

714

16

14

561

Last 5*

12

5

706

63

47

631

Last 10*

12

5

706

63

47

631

All-Time

19

13

594

138

124

549

*Does not include 2015 stats

-

Prediction: The Indians take two of three.

Keuchel gives us trouble due to being left handed, but I think Kluber can outduel him. Carrasco should be able to beat Feldman, though he did not look good in his final tune-up. The wild card is the rookie on Thursday. Until the Indians show this isn't a problem anymore, I feel nervous about that game.