The Houston Astros’ starting rotation looks a lot different that it did the last time the Oakland Athletics saw the AL West powerhouse. But all their starters, old and new, have one thing in common: they have been great against the A’s.
The Oakland Athletics start an all-important four-game set against the Houston Astros on Thursday night, as Mike Fiers and Aaron Sanchez square off.
Sanchez, Verlander and Greinke are slated to start games one, two and four of the series, with Cole possibly starting game two. The A’s will send out Fiers, Tanner Roark, Chris Bassitt and Brett Anderson.
The A’s are two games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second AL Wild Card spot and 9.5 back of the Astros in the AL West.
With 42 games left in the season and eight against the Astros, they still have time to catch up to the Astros, but recent history suggests they would be lucky to just stay at 10 games back.
This year, the Green and Gold are 2-9 against the Astros and have been outscored 60-27.
Both wins came in games when Wade Miley was starting, but even in those games, Miley was solid (he has posted 1.875 ERA in 3 starts with at least 92 pitches in each outing).
In fact, all five current Astros starters – Verlander, Miley, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke and Aaron Sanchez – have been dominant in their recent starts against the A’s.
Verlander is a famed Athletics’ killer – 14-6 in 22 games with a 2.52 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 142.2 IP – and has been even better this season, allowing only two runs and six hits with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings, going 2-0.
(His postseason stats are even more ridiculous: 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 36.2 IP spanning five starts. The A’s lone win in a start against Verlander came in game two of the 2013 ALDS, when Sonny Gray went toe-to-toe and Stephen Vogt walked off).
Gerritt Cole has been similarly great: two runs and six hits with 15 punchouts (11 coming in one start) in 13 IP.
Aaron Sanchez – who had a 6.02 ERA with the Blue Jays and a 0.82 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 11 IP with the Astros, including six innings of Houston’s combined no-hitter – has given up two runs and four hits in nine IP (Sanchez only has three starts with year with no runs allowed in at least five IP and one came against the A’s on April 27).
Last but not least is future Hall-of-Famer Zack Greinke, who last faced the A’s in 2018, allowing two earned runs and six hits with five strikeouts in six IP, losing 2-1 to Oakland.
Even Colin McHugh – who began the year as a starter but has since moved to the bullpen where he has struggled – had easily his two best starts of the 2019 season against the A’s, going 2-0 while allowing one earned run and five hits in 12 IP.
As a whole, the five Astros who have started against the A’s this season have allowed only four home runs in 11 starts (69.2 IP) against the A’s, who rely almost solely on the home run offense.