8:10 PM EST – Money Line: Astros -119, Over/Under: 8.5
A potential World Series Preview is on tap tonight in Southern Texas, as the Houston Astros play host to the Milwaukee Brewers in the first leg of a brief, Two-Game Series from Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. After suffering back-to-back losses to the Miami Marlins, the Brewers (38-28, T-1st in NL Central) have since rallied to win four consecutive outings, bringing them into a tie with the Chicago Cubs for First Place in the National League Central. Power has been the name of the game for Milwaukee, who have relied up the strength of their Lineup to propel them up the Standings this season; they rank tops in the National League in Home Runs (114), while also placing Fourth in Runs Scored (578) and Fifth in Hits (332). However, Craig Counsel’s charges have also proven crafty on the base paths to boot, logging an NL-leading Forty Stolen Bases thus far, with Christian Yelich (.340 BA, 72 H, 50 R, 10 2B, 24 HR, 53 RBI, 14 SB, 39 BB, 43 K) accounting for a sizable share in both power and thievery. The reigning National League MVP has been on a tear in 2019, leading the Majors in both Home Runs (24) and Stolen Bases (14), all the while sporting career-highs in Batting Average (.340), On-Base Percentage (.446), and Slugging Percentage (.745). However, as strong as the Lineup has been, the Rotation has been a bit of a question mark. Granted, it’s been very top-heavy with the likes of Zach Davies (7-0, 2.41 ERA, 74.2 IP, 72 H, 20 ER, 7 HR, 21 BB, 48 K, 1.246 WHIP) and Brandon Woodruff (8-1, 3.87 ERA, 74.1 IP, 67 H, 32 R, 8 HR, 20 BB, 90 K, 1.170 WHIP) amassing a combined 15-1 record, though the rest has been ravaged by injury, which is a big reason as to why the Brewers rank just Eleventh in the National League in Team ERA (4.48). Heading to the mound tonight for Counsell is Freddy Peralta (3-2, 5.11 ERA, 44.0 IP, 51 H, 25 R, 8 HR, 13 BB, 52 K, 1.455 WHIP), who continues to acclimate to his place in the Starting Rotation. The young Dominican has found consistency to be something difficult to obtain, though he has quite a bit of untapped potential. Despite carrying an ERA of 5.11 and allowing 10.4 Hits per Nine Innings, he has flashed electrifying power, averaging 10.6 Strikeouts per Nine Innings with a stellar 4.00 Strikeout/Walk Ratio. When we last saw the 23-year Old Righthander, he finally broke a streak of four consecutive appearances without a victory, dominating the Miami Marlins in a 5-1 win. Peralta authored arguably his most impressive showing of the campaign, striking out nine batters without a walk, relinquishing One Earned Runs on Four Hits over the course of Six Innings.
Meanwhile, one must begin to wonder if the Astros (45-22, 1st in AL West) are ever going to return to full strength, though thanks to their comfortable lead in the American League West, owning a 9.5-game lad over the Texas Rangers, they have been afforded the luxury of being patient. Indeed, the Injury List, and who has occupied it has been quite the storyline for Houston this season, for more than a few of their headliners have landed on it. So let’s take a moment to run down who is and isn’t available on the diamond, shall we? All Stars such as Jose Altuve (.243, B, 35 H, 21 R, 6 2B, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 18 BB, 25 K), Carlos Correa (.295 BA, 56 H, 26 R, 13 2B, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 20 BB, 51 K), and most recently George Springer (.308 BA, 57 H, 41 R, 9 2B, 17 HR, 43 RBI, 25 BB, 45 K) have robbed them of plenty of pop in the Lineup, while reliable arms like Colin McHugh (3-4, 6.04 ERA, 44.2 IP, 39 H, 30 ER, 9 HR, 16 BB, 48 K, 1.231 WHIP) and Lance McCullers could be providing the depth in the Rotation, but instead have languished in rehabilitation. However, in the absence of such significant figures, there are still those who have risen to carry the load, with Alex Bregman (.272 BA, 64 H, 44 R, 10 2B, 18 HR, 44 RBI, 44 BB, 37 K) fitting the bill. A year after a breakout campaign in which he led the Majors with Fifty-One Doubles and earned All-Star MVP honors in his first appearance in the event, the young Third Baseman has evolved into far more of a power hitter, cranking out Eighteen Home Runs and Forty-Four RBIs, all the while logging a career-high Slugging Percentage of .545. Heading to the mound tonight for Hinch is Brad Peacock (5-3, 3.20 ERA, 64.2 IP, 49 H, 23 ER, 5 HR, 20 BB, 67 K, 1.067 WHIP), looking to bounce back after taking his first Loss in six Starts. The 31-Year Old Righthander found himself on the wrong side of a 1-14 beatdown courtesy of the Seattle Mariners, though the vast majority of that onslaught occurred after the veteran took his leave after relinquishing a pair of Earned Runs on Four Hits, issuing Six Strikeouts in comparison to Two Walks. After missing the majority of the previous season due to injury, Peacock appears to rounding back into the form that saw him go 13-2 two years ago, when he was a fixture in Houston’s Rotation en route to their World Series triumph.