With just under two weeks left in the 2020 regular season, the Astros are all but in the playoffs, and the Rangers are pretty much eliminated. Not much is at stake in this series between in-state rivals in terms of playoff positioning. But every game matters, and this game does have some significance.
For the Astros, their objective has been to get back over .500. Houston has securely held the second spot in the top heavy AL West for several weeks as the Mariners, Angels, and Rangers fell by the wayside. With the playoffs approaching, Houston could use their sluggers Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa getting hot. Houston is also trying to get a handle on their rotation as they head into the postseason.
The Rangers 2020 season has not been a good one, but at least it was short. The good news is the Rangers have found Isiah Kiner-Falefa as a future star. The big question mark is evaluating the rotation, including Jordan Lyles, to see their future fit on the 2021 roster. Thus far, Lyles has not impressed the Rangers with his play, so his final two starts of the season are crucial to show what he can do.
Lyles, Rangers Look to Finish StrongThe Rangers are winding down a miserable 2020 season, in which the pitching staff has been a mess while the lineup has not lived up to expectations. The Rangers rank 29th (out of 30) in batting average and runs scored this season. Joey Gallo has been a bust, as has Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor. But, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has made the most of his 2020 season. Kiner-Falefa is one of the hottest hitters in the game right now, slashing .407/.429/.444 over the past seven games. He leads the team in splits against lefties with a .429 batting average. While Kiner-Falefa lacks power, he is a master at getting on base and has a low strikeout rate.
Jordan Lyles will get the start in tonight’s game, coming off a no decision against Oakland in which he went seven innings, giving up nine hits and five runs while striking out five. The last time Lyles faced Houston, he allowed three runs and five hits in five innings, striking out two in a no decision. Lyles’ 6.16 FIP and 1.641 WHIP are on the high side, as is his 4.2 BB/9 rate.
Astros Look to Get Healthy as Season End NearsHouston has battled an epidemic of injuries during the 2020 season, losing Justin Verlander and Lance McCullars, Jr. from the starting rotation, and losing Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman for large swaths of the season. Altuve just came off the IL this past week, and looks to round back into form against Texas in preparation for the playoffs. The Astros lineup could use a lift as they have slashed only .190/.250/.329 with five home runs over the past seven games. George Springer has been the best Astro over that stretch with an OPS of 1.080 with three home runs. Yuli Gurriel’s home split (.298 BA, 3 HR) and Michael Brantley’s righty split (.348, 3 HR) both lead the team in 2020.
Framber Valdez heads to the hill carrying a 3.34 FIP and a 1.203 WHIP with an 8.9 K/9 rate. Valdez’s last start was a no decision against the Dodgers in which he lasted five innings, surrendering five runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. Valdez’s last start against Texas also resulted in a no decision, as the lefty went seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts.
- Houston: 13-4 in last 17 games at home
- Houston: 3-9 in last 12 games
- Texas: 4-10 last 14 games
- Texas: 1-10 in last 11 games against Houston