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Series Preview: Astros at Brewers

I don't really think this is what the NL Central standings will look like come September, but right now, this series is the best versus the best.  The Brewers are 9-6, while the Astros come to town 8-6, in second place a half game back.

Much like in recent years, Houston has gotten this far on the strength of some good pitching.  Unlike recent years, the names involved aren't very familiar: once you get past Roy Oswalt, we're talking about Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Sampson, and a couple of decent starts from the now-injured Jason Jennings.

While Oswalt will be fearsome for years to come, I'm not worried about the rest of the rotation, especially the first two guys we're seeing in this series:

Albers is filling in for Jennings; he had a nice spring, but hasn't even pitched all that well in Triple-A.  I never want to get too confident about the Brewers offense against a young unknown, but I'm going to get a little bit confident.  Apparently the betting public isn't too excited about Sheets: the Brewers are down to -165, a few notches from where they were last night.

It's personally important to me that we win this series.  As a result of my column at The Hardball Times, I'm now a weekly guest on radio show in Austin, Texas.  One of the hosts is an Astros/Rangers fan, the other is a Cubbie.  They know where my allegiances lie, so it'd be nice to check in with them on Monday after we're up to 12-6.

Should you dare venture to the dark side...

  • The Crawfish Boxes is really excited about Carlos Lee.  It'll be interesting to see how warmly Caballo is greeted upon his return.  I hope he gets a standing ovation right before Ben Sheets strikes him out.  On three pitches.  Three times.

  • Plunk Biggio doesn't have anything specific of note, but I love that site.

  • Beyond the Boxscore has my Astros preview from exactly one month ago.

  • Baseball-Reference is updating daily, which is so awesome, because their format is so much better than every other source for team- and league-wide stats.  See at a glance just how bad the non-Caballo offense has been!
One last time: if you haven't entered the Harvey's Wallbangers DVD giveaway, you still have can make your predictions right up to gametime tonight.  So get in there and do it!  You know you're going to get the DVD one way or the other, so you might as well try to get it for free.