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Yankees vs. Astros series preview: Deep in the heart of Texas

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like the Yankees have a bad habit so far in 2015 of beating up on good pitchers and good teams while dropping winnable games to bad teams. They lost a series to the Philadelphia Phillies this week, but managed to torch ace Cole Hamels instead of winning the game started by one Sean O'Sullivan. You can predict baseball, we have been told.

A good team awaits the Yankees in Houston tonight, perhaps much to the surprise of many. The Astros have been leading the AL West basically all season, and their 42 wins are the second highest in all of MLB. What has been the key to their success? Houston has scored 331 runs this year (the Yankees have scored 350, which is actually second in the league) but have only allowed 284 runs. Yankees pitchers have, unsurprisingly, surrendered 324 runs to their opposition. What happens when a good offensive team like the Yankees meets a great pitcher in Dallas Keuchel whose team scores a ton for him? We'll find out tonight. Both Keuchel and the Astros' offense have been very good at home this year. The Yankees haven't been fantastic on the road as of late.

Starting tonight's game against Keuchel is Adam Warren, still fighting for his spot in the rotation. With Ivan Nova's strong outing against the Phillies and Joe Girardi's insistence that CC Sabathia won't be going to the bullpen, this could end up being Warren's last start for a while. He was great in his last start against the Tigers, going eight innings and allowing only two runs.

Nathan Eovaldi starts Friday's game against Vincent Velasquez, who has only pitched 13 innings so far this year. Eovaldi has struggled with his results this season with his infuriating inability to put batters away. If Warren pitches well and Eovaldi turns in another clunker, does the team reevaluate which one of them goes to the bullpen? Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda will each be hoping for a turnaround from their last outings when they face the Astros in the final two games of the four-game set. The two best pitchers in the rotation got torched last time they stepped on the mound, which is concerning when the drop off from Pineda and Tanaka to the rest of the rotation is so dramatic. Opposing Tanaka and Pineda on the mound will be Brett Olberholtzer and Collin McHugh, respectively.

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