The Houston Astros announced the rotation for their three-game interleague series against the visiting Miami Marlins that starts Friday, and the revelation of note was that veteran right-hander Justin Verlander will get the ball in the series finale on Sunday.
That decision bumped right-hander Cristian Javier, who has toggled between starting and relieving this season, from the rotation for now — due to a day off Thursday.
Javier is 3-3 with a 4.05 ERA over seven starts, but he is just 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA and .805 opponents’ OPS in the five starts since his last relief appearance.
He isn’t alone in his recent woes. Right-hander Jose Urquidy (5-3, 5.04 ERA) continued his season-long struggles in the finale of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday. He gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits — including two home runs in the fourth inning — and a career-high four walks over 4 1/3 innings.
While Urquidy fell to 0-3 with a 10.38 ERA in three starts against Seattle this season, he has been the beneficiary of strong run support on a few occasions. He got victories against Toronto, Boston and Kansas City despite allowing 24 hits and 11 earned runs over a combined 16 innings in those starts. The Astros scored in double figures each game.
“He’s much better than he’s pitching,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Urquidy. “We’ve still got two-thirds of the season for him to pitch. Nobody’s going to go through the whole year pitching great unless you’re in contention for the Cy Young (Award).”
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi was 3-1 with a 0.79 ERA over his last four starts before landing on the injured list with lower leg discomfort on May 17. He is set for reinstatement in the near future, so the Astros might have a difficult decision to make on who will be relegated to the bullpen.
Astros right-hander Luis Garcia (3-4, 3.07 ERA) will start the series opener against Miami. Garcia is 0-3 with a 3.27 ERA in his past four starts. Opponents are batting just .214 against him in that span. He has surrendered more than three earned runs only once in 10 starts this season.
This will mark the first career appearance against the Marlins for Garcia, who is 1-3 with a 4.28 ERA in six career interleague appearances, including five starts.
Right-hander Pablo Lopez (4-2, 2.18 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Marlins. Following a blistering start to the season that included a 3-0 record and 0.39 ERA in April, Lopez has scuffled a bit of late. He is 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA over his past four starts, a stretch that includes Lopez firing six shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies in the Marlins’ 7-1 loss on May 30 in Denver.
Lopez did not factor into the decision in the Marlins’ 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on May 13, an outing during which he recorded 11 strikeouts while allowing one run on three hits over seven innings. In the start before that, he blanked the San Diego Padres over eight innings.
Lopez has never faced the Astros. He is 3-4 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts against American League opposition.
Miami completed a three-game series sweep of the Washington Nationals with a 7-4 victory on Thursday. Next is a 10-game road trip that culminates with seven games against two National League East rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.
“You go to Houston, that’s going to be a tough series obviously,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “They’re a really good team. They’ve been a good team for a while. So we’ll start there.”
–Field Level Media