Scouting reports provided by

Rodrigo Lopez vs. Aneury Rodriguez

Lopez will make his first start since being acquired from Atlanta on May 26. He was 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Gwinnett and has a 4.85 career ERA in the Majors. Lopez, 35, throws four pitches but won’t overpower hitters. Rodriguez registered career highs with six innings and five strikeouts as Houston beat the Dodgers, 2-1, Wednesday. He has allowed just three runs in his last 11 1/3 innings, but lacks a winning decision this season.

Carlos Zambrano vs. Jordan Lyles

Big Z picked up his first win at home in his most recent start with a win over the Mets. He’s now 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in five starts at Wrigley Field. Zambrano beat the Astros in Houston on April 13. Lyles is expected to make his Major League debut with Wandy Rodriguez headed for the DL. The 20-year-old righty was the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 and is 3-3 with a 3.20 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2011.

Doug Davis vs. Brett Myers

Davis was unable to go five innings for the second straight start in his last outing against the Pirates on Friday, walking six over 4 2/3 innings. Davis needs to throw more strikes inside against right-handed batters. All four runs Myers surrendered Friday against Arizona were courtesy of first baseman Juan Miranda, who smashed two home runs. Myers left with a 6-4 lead but the Astros lost, 7-6. Myers doesn’t have a winning decision in May.

Trace Levos scouts the Astros

WHO’S HOT – This is a rather tough call, as no one on the Astros can truly be considered “hot” at the moment with the team playing the way it is, but if I were forced to pick a couple guys, I’d have to say Aneury Rodriguez and Hunter Pence. Rodriguez has looked quite strong in his last few starts, and while he’s still winless, his tough arm angle and decent stuff are making him harder and harder for hitters to solve. Pence has obviously been the bat that’s carried the ‘Stros so far this season, and while his average his risen 20 points in the last 10 games, I’m singling him out more because of his defense of late. He’s always been an average to above-average right fielder, but lately he’s been making spectacular sliding and leaping grabs, saving runs for a rotation and bullpen that’s downright ghastly. Funnily enough, with how bad the Astros’ defense is, it still looks like Houston might have two gold glovers in the outfield.

WHO’S NOT – Man, lots of choices here, but the big picture points towards two key players whose deep slumps are affecting the team in the worst way possible. Brett Myers and Bill Hall were two guys that were signed (in Myers’ case, re-signed) to the club to bring veteran experience and talent. Myers’ first few starts aside, both have been horrid throughout the entire season. Myers looked fabulous in the first 5 innings of his last start against Arizona, but then proceeded to let the D’Backs get back into the game by surrendering two 2-run homers to Juan Miranda. The Astros later lost that contest after giving up the 6-run lead that they had staked out. Myers’ ERA subsequently ballooned to 5.11. And what is there to say about Hall? He’s been atrocious all year at the plate, averaging more than a strikeout per game, but two of his recent errors have cost the team EIGHT unearned runs. Thankfully, with Jeff Keppinger back from the DL, Hall should see his playing time cut into considerably.

NEWS / NOTES – For many Houston fans, the upcoming series against the Cubs will probably be the most exciting one so far in what seems to be a lost season. Highly-touted prospect Jordan Lyles will make his major league debut on Tuesday against Carlos Zambrano at 7:05 pm. Lyles was promoted from AAA Oklahoma City when Wandy Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day DL because of a fluid buildup in his pitching elbow. While his injury is a bit depressing as he was the best pitcher on the staff so far this season, the excitement of seeing the best prospect in the Houston farm system finally come to the big leagues is palpable. Lyles probably won’t throw more than about 80 pitches, especially since he’s likely to be sent back down once W-Rod is healthy, but it should be thrilling nonetheless to see the youngster pitch his first game in the Show.

SERIES PREDICTION – The Astros hit the wall hard against Arizona after having won consecutive series for the first time this season when they took two out of three from Toronto and Los Angeles. However, the pitching (sans Brett Myers and the defense) has been rather pleasing to watch of late, and the bats should be able to get a few runs off of the equally unimpressive Cubbies starters. Still not enough for me to predict a series win, however. I’ll say the ‘Stros take one out of three, and I’ll say it’s Aneury Rodriguez who finally gets a win against Rodrigo Lopez.

Trace is a contributor on Austin’s Astros 290 Blog, part of the ESPN SweetSpot Network

Joe’s Thoughts on the Series

I said it in yesterday’s recap post and I’ll say it again. The only way I come away from this series at all satisfied is for the Cubs to come away with a sweep. Look at the pitching matchups. It can be done…right? Now it’s time to execute.

I worry a little when we have relatively no experience against a starting pitcher. It seems like we’ve struggled so I decided to run the numbers since 2000 on pitchers making their ML debut against the Cubs to see how we’ve fair. Here are the results, sorted by game score.

Rk Player Date Tm IP H R ER BB SO Pit Str GSc
1 Brett Myers 2002-07-24 PHI 8.0 2 1 1 1 5 90 57 78
2 Josh Beckett 2001-09-04 FLA 6.0 1 0 0 3 5 85 54 72
3 Rob Bell 2000-04-08 CIN 7.0 3 3 1 2 9 91 63 70
4 Travis Wood 2010-07-01 CIN 7.0 2 2 2 3 4 91 56 66
5 Junior Herndon 2001-08-02 SDP 7.2 4 3 2 3 3 114 67 61
6 Mike Leake 2010-04-11 CIN 6.2 4 1 1 7 5 106 57 60
7 Brandon McCarthy 2005-05-22 CHW 5.1 4 2 2 1 6 78 49 57
8 Matt Maloney 2009-06-06 CIN 6.0 6 2 2 1 4 89 58 55
9 Sean Burnett 2004-05-30 PIT 5.0 5 1 1 3 3 93 52 53
10 Wandy Rodriguez 2005-05-23 HOU 5.2 6 4 4 1 6 77 49 46
11 P.J. Walters 2009-04-17 STL 4.0 6 3 3 2 7 98 59 43
12 Adam Ottavino 2010-05-29 STL 5.2 5 4 4 6 5 99 52 42
13 Brad Hennessey 2004-08-07 SFG 4.2 7 4 4 1 5 89 55 38
14 Dave Pember 2002-09-03 MIL 3.2 4 4 3 5 1 86 42 35
15 Alan Johnson 2011-04-17 COL 4.0 6 5 4 3 3 93 53 32
16 Logan Kensing 2004-09-10 (2) FLA 2.0 8 5 5 0 0 49 31 20
17 Ben Diggins 2002-09-02 (2) MIL 1.1 4 8 7 6 2 65 29 12


For the most part, it’s going to be the case in two of the games this series. While it’s not Rodriguez debut, very few of the Cubs have seen him before. It’s not going to be an easy series. The Cubs will need to work for it, but I’m confident that if we don’t beat ourselves, we can get a sweep.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail