Series Preview #24: Talking Astros with The Crawfish Boxes

Put on your enormous hat and read this post to get ready for the Brewers' first trip to Texas in 2013.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
28-40 (T-4th place, NL Central)
HOUSTON ASTROS
26-45 (5th place, AL West)

GAME 1: June 18, 2013 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 2
: June 19, 2013 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: June 20, 2013 @ 1:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

Minute Maid Park | Houston, Texas

A View from the Other Dugout: The Crawfish Boxes

Game 1 Alfredo Figaro (1-0, 3.47) vs. Jordan Lyles (3-1, 3.48)
vs. Astros (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 2 Kyle Lohse (2-6, 3.84) vs. Erik Bedard (2-3, 4.82)
vs. Astros (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 3 Yovani Gallardo (6-6, 4.41)
vs. Lucas Harrell (5-7, 4.48)
vs. Astros (0-0, ---)
vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)

To help us get ready for tonight's game and this series, we've asked Timothy De Block of The Crawfish Boxes to answer some questions about the Astros.

BCB: Obviously this is the first meeting between these two teams since the Astros moved to the AL. Has anything about the change surprised you? If given the opportunity, would you switch back?

TCB: The surprise has been more in the division change rather than the central change. I knew the amount of West Coast games that the Astros were going to play was only going increase by a handful, which in a 162 game season doesn't seem like that big of a deal until you actually have to stay up and watch those games. I'm not helped by the fact that I live on the East Coast. As for the actual league switch it's never really bothered me personally. I think American League ball is a better product on the field because you're eliminating a bad hitter from the lineup, pitcher, and potentially eliminating a bad fielder from the field, designated hitter. That said I am in the minority among Astros fans regarding those sentiments and I think the way MLB went about getting the Astros to switch leagues was pretty crappy. MLB, essentially, took a crap on the Astros 50 years of National League history. Yes I would switch the Astros back to the National League.

BCB: Former #10 overall pick Jason Castro is quietly having another solid year behind the plate, posting a .270/.328/.486 line through 60 games. Is he this team's biggest breakout success?

TCB: Yes. Pitchers Jordan Lyles, drafted 28 picks after Castro, and Bud Norris are both having improved seasons so far as well but there are still questions about whether or not they can maintain their current success. Castro, at this point, looks more like the real deal and could be the Astros representative in this years All-Star game.

BCB: The Brewers will face 22-year-old Jordan Lyles on Tuesday, and the 3.48 ERA he's posted through nine starts in 2013 is a far cry from the 5.20 mark he had after his first 45 career games (between 2011 and 2012). What's different for him this year?

TCB: Lyles is a year older and that may be the biggest factor. It's easy to forget that he's only 22 this season and doesn't turn 23 until October. There's been some statistical regression in his favor so far this season. His career left on base percentage (LOB%) is 65.4, which is well below the 70-75 LOB% average range for pitchers, so far this season he has a 77.8 LOB%. He's also kept fly balls in the park and has struck out slightly more batters this season. Jumping further down the rabbit hole, Lyles is using his changeup more and getting better results with it.

BCB: I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about former Brewer Jose Veras, who is 14-for-17 in save opportunities and 12-for his last 13. I know you guys wrote an extended post on him earlier this week, but has watching him in Houston been as frustrating as watching him in Milwaukee was?

TCB: Yes, but that's what you get when you put a decent middle reliever in a team's closer role; However, he's been one of the Astros best relievers, which should tell you the state of the Astros bullpen, and he's gotten the job done more times than not. This wasn't entirely unexpected coming into the season.

BCB: The Astros (like the Brewers) are already more or less eliminated from playoff contention. Are there still players on this team they could look to sell at the trade deadline?

TCB: Carlos Pena and Jose Veras are two guys that will be in another team's uniform before the season is out. Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell are two pitchers who have and will draw interest on the trade market. Norris is having the best year of his career. Harrell is having some negative regression but should still draw some interest. Centerfielder Justin Maxwell and backup catcher Carlos Corporan are two players that could fill a teams need as a reserve player. Maxwell in particular has some serious power, is very good defensively in center field and has some athleticism running the bases. The downside is that he he struggles with making contact and staying healthy, still he's the type of player a team would not be upset with having to start on a regular basis.

Thanks to Timothy for taking the time, and check out The Crawfish Boxes for more on the Astros!

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