The Astros will take the field trying to remember that it's not 2013 in a brand-new three-game set against the Fightin' Ausmuses at Minute Maid Park. Houston won the series, 4-3, in 2015 and lost the 2014 season series with the Tigers, 3-4. The Tigers lead the all-time series 19-17.
The Tigers are coming off a series in which they took three of four from Pittsburgh (outscoring the Pirates 22-9) and are 6-2 on the season. They're 4-0 on the road, but are 1-2 against left-handed pitching. Detroit is also straight killing the ball. As a team they're hitting .295/.357/.477, with thirteen home runs. Against lefty starters, though, they're hitting .236/.299/.406.
Obviously they're getting production all over the lineup. J.D. Martinez - yes, that J.D. Martinez - is hitting .433/.500/.633 with 5K:5BB. Ian Kinsler is hitting .361/.385/.639 with three homers. Victor Martinez is hitting .294/.429/.706 with as many homers (2) as strikeouts on the season. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is only hitting .214 but all three of his hits have gone for extra bases.
Mike Pelfrey, who signed a 2yr/$16m contract with Detroit last December - is taking the mound for Detroit. In his first start - April 9 against the Yankees - he allowed 8H/6ER, 3K:1BB in 3.2IP. He hasn't thrown a Quality Start since August 12, 2015 - a span of nine starts.
He has faced current Astros 48 times in his career, and they are collectively hitting .279/.354/.372. Only Rasmus (.958 OPS), Altuve (.661 OPS), and Carlos Gomez (.500 OPS) have faced him more than seven times. Pelfrey faced the Astros twice in 2015, and those starts did not go well. He combined for 7.2IP, 15H/11ER, 7K:2BB.
You will not be able to stop noticing how much he licks his hand during a game. One dogged journalist discovered he did this almost 90 times a game.
And Dallas Keuchel will try to play the role of stopper for the Astros. The Astros have forgotten how to play baseball and are hoping that it truly is like riding a bicycle. The good news for the Astros is that Dallas Keuchel has not taken a loss at a game in Minute Maid Park since August 10, 2014, when the West Louisiana Ramgers beat the Astros 6-2. This is a 21-start undefeated streak at home.
The Astros are 1-1 in Keuchel's starts this season, both on the road. So far Keuchel has thrown 12.2IP, 9H/5ER, but the command pitcher is somehow leading the league in walks, with ten. He walked ten batters total from August 25 through the end of the regular season (53.1IP). Against Milwaukee he walked six batters - tying a career high from July 31, 2012 at...yes, Milwaukee.
Keuchel held the Tigers to 6H/1ER, 8K:1BB in 7IP in his one start against them in 2015. Over three career starts Keuchel is 2-0, 20.1IP, 19H/7ER, 18K:3BB.
Victor Martinez is 4x9 with a homer off Keuchel. Ian Kinsler is 7x22 with a homer, 2K:2BB. Miguel Cabrera has to this point been rendered impotent, going 1x9 with 3K:3BB against Keuchel lifetime. Collectively, though, the Tigers have hit .275/.333/.388.
Your batting leaders for Houston include Tyler White (.438/.386/.813), Colby Rasmus (.300/.436/.667), Jose Altuve (.317/.391/.634, with six stolen bases), and Preston Tucker (.273/.333/.682).
The Astros who are currently suckin hind tit include Carlos Gomez (.200/.222/.286), Jason Castro (.125/.222/.292), Luis Valbuena (.207/.281/.276), and the newly-blinded George Springer (.200/.273/.325).
Luke Gregerson should be fresh, given that he has only thrown 3IP in three appearances, allowing 1H/0ER, 3K:2BB. Will Harris has allowed 3H/1ER, 5K:1BB in 5.1IP. Josh Fields, Tony Sipp, and Ken Giles have combined to throw 13.1IP, 18H/13ER, 18K:4BB, leading one to believe that these three are just throwing beach balls instead of baseballs.