Braves Vs. Astros Series Preview: Atlanta Looks To Continue Winning Ways In Houston

The Atlanta Braves will head into hot and steamy Houston for a 4-game series against the Astros, who currently have the worst record in Major League Baseball. Let's take a look at their team:

Offense:

Despite their 24-39 record, the Astros actually have a pretty decent offense. They're ranked seventh in the National League in runs scored and are right in the middle of the pack in team batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and stolen bases.

The club is led by Hunter Pence (.315/.358/.488, .373 wOBA, 138 wRC+) and it'll be interesting to see how the outfielder performs in the series. Pence has been linked to the Braves earlier this year in trade rumors and a big series could stir up the pot once again. Michael Bourn isn't a great hitter (.275/.343/.368, .338 wOBA, 114 wRC+), but he's incredibly fast and currently has 26 stolen bases. First baseman Brett Wallace (.317/.389/.457, .370 wOBA, 136 wRC+) is having a fine season as their fifth hitter and Jason Bourgeois has played well in limited playing time.

Veteran slugger Carlos Lee and his monster contract aren't having a very good year (.262/.316/.402, .315 wOBA, 98 wRC+) and infielders Clint Barmes (.221/.325/.344, .307 wOBA, 92 wRC+) and Chris Johnson (.228/.271/.398, .287 wOBA, 79 wRC+) have both struggled as well. Catcher J.R. Towles  (.210/.297/.352, .291 wOBA, 82 wRC+) doesn't bring much to the lineup and neither does Jeff Keppinger.

We'll likely see something similar to this for the Astros lineup:

Michael Bourn - CF
Jeff Keppinger - 2B
Hunter Pence - RF
Carlos Lee - LF
Brett Wallace - 1B
Chris Johnson - 3B
Clint Barmes - SS
J.R. Towles

Pitching Matchups:

Tim Hudson Vs. Aneury Rodriguez, 8:05 (SportSouth)

Aneury Rodriguez has struggled this year in Houston. His ERA is 5.28 and his FIP and xFIP aren't very far off (4.97, 4.77). He doesn't strike out many, walks a few too many and relies heavily on fly ball outs. You won't make it very far with that combination. He'll throw a fastball in the low-90's and an above-average slider as hit out-pitch, and he'll occasionally break in a changeup against a left-handed batter.

Mike Minor Vs. Jordan Lyles, 7:05 (SportSouth)

Jordan Lyles, a right-handed rookie pitcher acquired from Texas in a recent trade, will be making the third start of his career on Saturday against Atlanta. He's currently 0-1 and despite a high ERA of 4.91 his FIP of 2.49 and xFIP of 4.25 show he's been a little better than his numbers indicate. Lyles features five pitches and will throw a low-90's fastball, cutter, curveball, slider and solid changeup.

Tommy Hanson Vs. Brett Myers, 2:05 (SportSouth)

The veteran right-handed pitcher, Brett Myers, isn't having a good season. He's 2-5 with an ERA, FIP and xFIP of 5.02, 5.33 and 4.23 and his strikeouts are down compared to previous years. After years of being a hard thrower, Myers now features a fastball in the high-80's, a solid slider, curveball and changeup. 

Derek Lowe Vs. Wandy Rodriguez (SportSouth)

Left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez has struggled this year, but he's a capable pitcher who can shut down a lineup on any given night. His ERA, FIP and xFIP (3.41, 3.93, 3.50) indicate he's pitched better than his 3-3 record and he's striking out just over seven batters per nine innings. He'll throw a fastball in the upper-80's, slow curveball and a nasty changeup, especially against right-handed batters.

Recap:

The Braves should win this series. They're playing well despite injuries and the Astros might be the worst team in baseball. We'll miss Houston's best starter, Bud Norris, and they're likely about to start looking ahead to next year as they sit 13.5 games out in the NL Central. 

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