The starting rotation for the Cleveland Indians is in shambles as they prepare to open a three-game series at the red-hot Houston Astros, who just happen to own the best record in the major leagues. Cleveland will send right-hander Trevor Bauer, author of a 6.92 ERA, to the mound in Friday night’s series opener against the American League West leaders.
Bauer may be in the midst of a rocky season but he owns a spotless record against the Astros -- he is 6-0 with a 2.61 ERA in six career starts against them. Losers of five of their last seven, the Indians are in desperate need of a strong outing from Bauer after their starting rotation posted a collective 9.14 ERA over the past five games and ranks 29th in the majors with a 5.15 mark. Houston is riding a four-game winning streak after capping off a 6-1 road trip with a three-game sweep of Miami, outscoring the Marlins 22-4. Charlie Morton will take the mound for the Astros, who have won 14 of 17 to move 17 games over .500 (29-12) for the first time since the end of the 2004 season.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), ROOT (Houston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Trevor Bauer (3-4, 6.92 ERA) vs. Astros RH Charlie Morton (5-2, 3.97)
Bauer is coming off his second quality start of the season, permitting three runs and seven hits while striking out seven over six innings to beat Minnesota. Most noteworthy, Bauer did not issue a base on balls after walking eight batters over 10 innings in dropping his previous two starts. Bauer will need to be wary of Brian McCann, who is 5-for-17 with two homers and six homers against him.
Morton has been a welcome addition to Houston’s staff after he was limited to four starts in 2016 due to surgery to repair a torn hamstring. He had one bad inning last time out against the New York Yankees, giving up a three-run homer after Houston built a nine-run lead, but struck out 10 over 5 2/3 innings. He took the loss in his lone career start versus the Indians with six innings of three-run ball.
1. Astros 2B Jose Altuve is 8-for-16 during a four-game hitting streak, including two doubles and two triples on Wednesday.
2. Indians CF Bradley Zimmer went 2-for-4 with a homer and double on Wednesday in his second career game.
3. Astros CF George Springer has hit safely in 14 of 15 games.
PREDICTION: Astros 5, Indians 3