Game 1: 4/19/11 (7:10 PM)
Jon Niese (0-2, 6.88 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB): Niese looked terrific in his first outing of the season (2.57 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB), but has been horrendous in his past two (9.90 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB). The good news is that his H/9, HR/9, and K/BB are all stellar, but obviously too many runners have crossed home. Don’t expect Niese’s bad luck continue for too long. (Career vs. Astros: no stats)
Wandy Rodriguez (0-2, 7.31 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 3.67 K/BB): Wandy has always been a better second half pitcher than first (4.46 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 2.20 K/BB versus 3.94 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.64 K/BB), but his start to the 2011 has been particularly brutal. Wandy did also have a pretty horrendous first half in 2011 (4.97 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 1.93 K/BB ratio), so that could keep some of those ardent Astros fans from jumping off the ledge. (Career vs. Mets: .231/.297/.358 line with a 3.22 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 2.42 K/BB)
ASTROS OFFENSE OVERVIEW
For the first time in what seems like ages, the Astros’ offense is reliant of a lot of young talent. Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Brett Wallace, and Chris Johnson are all big parts to the Astros future and current plans. Pence is Houston’s best hitter, and owns three consecutive 25-homerun seasons (from 2008 through 2010). Bourn is arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball, and has averaged 51 stolen bases since 2008. The Astros acquired Brett Wallace last season, and immediately handed him the first base gig. Despite being labeled as a free swinger, Wallace has already matched his walk total from last season (8 BB’s) in a third of the PA’s. Chris Johnson, like Wallace, has a knack for swinging-and-missing, but looked comfortable at the major league level in 2010. Johnson posted a respectable .308/.337/.481 line with 11 HR, 52 RBI, 40 R, and 3 SB. Wallace and Johnson have to mature a bit before being depended on, but the Astros have some serious offensive talent for the future.