Max Fried finally looked human yesterday as the young up and comer got belted for four earned runs in five and two-thirds of an inning worked. And even then, he actually pitched pretty well, as through five innings he had allowed just one run. But alas, in the sixth inning the wheels fell off for Fried, and he left the game with runners on base, and the bullpen couldn’t stop them from coming around to score.
For the Nationals, their star starter, Stephen Strasburg, pitched well as he gave up just two runs in seven innings of work while striking out eleven. The Nats absolutely atrocious bullpen came in and did their best to try and blow the game, eventually bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth inning before slamming the door shut and locking up the victory.
It was a rare victory for the Nationals who have really struggled to stay relevant this season, and the rare loss for us, as we have been red hot in the month of May. We will shake off the run bad and get right back at it today as we head to Houston where the Astros host the Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs are in Houston Wednesday trying to avoid getting swept. The Cubs have dropped the first two games of this series and five out of their last six games overall. With the recent rough patch, the Cubs have allowed the rest of the NL Central to catch up to them. Chicago holds just a scant half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the division. The last place Cincinnati Reds are just five games out of first in what is shaping up to be the most competitive division in baseball.
For the Astros, their thirty-seven wins are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the most in the majors, and they continue to win games at a high rate despite several key injuries. The Astros have won four out of their last five games, all coming against playoff level competition, Chicago, and the Boston Red Sox.
Starting for the Cubs tonight is Kyle Hendricks (4-4 3.34 ERA), and for Houston, it is Wade Miley (5-2 3.32 ERA). The Cubs are -111 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The Houston Astros are banged up right now, to say the least. They are playing without all-world guys like Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa. But that hasn’t really slowed them down as they are still hitting the ball and are still winning games. Correa has yet to hit the IL and was a late scratch yesterday with rib soreness and could play tonight if he is feeling better.
Despite having so many great players sitting out, the Astros still have the most wins in baseball, and their home record is the best in the majors by a wide margin. How are they getting it done, you ask? A surprisingly great bullpen, they are tops in the majors in bullpen ERA, and some solid starting pitching. Many were worried about Houston’s rotation coming into the season as they lost Dallas Kuechel and Gerrit Cole in the offseason, but the Astros have pitched great all season long. It has been next man up for the Astros and it has worked out better than just about anybody could have expected. oh
Wade Miley has been one of those next men up this season, and he is exceeding expectations. Miley is 4-0 in the month of May with a 3.41 ERA. He won’t get you too deep into the game, but that is ok because this Houston bullpen is so good that they want to get them into the game. That being said, he has pitched into the sixth inning in nine of his eleven starts.
The one soft spot for Miley this year has been the long ball. He has allowed a home run in eight straight starts. The deep ball hasn’t hurt his results though as the Astros have won eight out of his last ten starts. He will have hands full tonight against a hard-hitting Cubs lineup that is also playing without one of their best players.
We talked about the injuries for Houston, but Chicago will likely be without their best player, Kris Bryant, tonight for the series finale. Bryant had a collision in the outfield with Jayson Hayward two games ago and missed last night’s game. He is questionable for tonight, but I would expect Chicago to take things slow with Bryant as they can ill afford a setback.
Chicago will send Kyle Hendricks to the mound tonight to try and salvage one win in the series. Hendricks started out the month of May on fire as in his first three starts of the month he was unbelievably good. He pitched a combined twenty-five innings and allowed just one earned run. He has looked much worse though in his last two starts as he gave up seven earned runs in eleven and two-thirds of an inning.
I get it, the Astros are banged up right now. But to see them as home underdogs is laughable. They just might be the best team in baseball, and they are absolutely the best home team in baseball. The starting pitching matchup seems to be basically a wash, both guys have been great this year. But I can’t talk myself out of not backing Houston at home.
The injuries scare me a little bit, but until they start to slow them down, I have no choice but to keep backing them. And getting them at home with some dog money is just the cherry on top. Give me the Houston Astros as home underdogs tonight in game three as they look for the sweep!