ASTROS-DODGERS PREVIEW

Validation vs. vindication: Astros-Dodgers series breakdown

Composite image by Brandon Strange.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Tues. July 28: Walker Buehler vs. Framber Valdez

Wed. July 29: Dustin May vs. TBD

STORYLINES

  • The Astros and Dodgers meet up for the first time since the sign-stealing saga gripped the baseball universe. While both teams are trying to get their feet under them still, the fan bases will undoubtedly use the series for bragging rights. Dodgers fans will seek vindication for having a title stolen from them by the "cheatin' 'Stros," while Astros fans will seek validation that a trash can wasn't the World Series MVP in 2017, and that their hometown nine are just really good.
  • Who will the Astros tab to replace Justin Verlander's spot in the rotation? The ace is on the shelf for at least two weeks but probably longer. With one ace from 2019 in New York and another on the IL, the once scary Astros staff is now filled with question marks.
  • Will the Dodgers throw at some Astro hitters for payback? Whether players had scathing things to say publicly or not, all of them know that technological sign-stealing was rampant league-wide. If anyone on the Astros gets hit, it won't be for revenge in my opinion.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • Roster sizes will continue to shrink as the season goes on, and there will be some competitive battles for roster spots at the back end. Between Will Harris departing for Washington, Hector Rondon going to Arizona, Joe Smith opting out of the season, Roberto Osuna getting to camp late, and Josh James having to fill in the rotation, the bullpen is unrecognizable from seasons past. Rookies Enoli Paredes and Blake Taylor have impressed in the early going, while Bryan Abreu impressed enough last year to make the postseason roster. Look for Astros manager Dusty Baker to test the young guns against the Dodgers and see what they're made of. If the young guns stand up to the test, Chris Devenski and Joe Biagini's days in orange and blue could be numbered.
  • Can Kyle Tucker earn an everyday spot in the lineup? Through four games, the touted prospect has only gotten his name tabbed twice. He'll need to start living up to his prospect billing if he wants to get any type of run once Yordan Alvarez comes back to claim his DH role
  • How much longer until George Springer breaks out of his early season slump? Springer only has one hit through four games, albeit the hit was a no-doubt home run onto the train tracks. Later this week, I'll break down Springer's early season struggles at the plate.

PREDICTION

Through three games, no team in baseball was undefeated. The Dodgers come to Houston with a 2-2 record after splitting with the lowly San Francisco Giants. In an already unpredictable sport, this season is even more unpredictable. The Astros and Dodgers will split, leaving fans no choice but to wait until the teams meet again to settle their sign-stealing beef.

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Lovie Smith's testy encounter with a local reporter after the Texans loss to the Commanders has been a big topic of discussion locally in Houston this week, causing many to question if the reporter went a little too far.

In fact, this heated interaction even garnered national attention from ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on First Take. Stephen A. questioned whether the local reporter would have behaved the same way if former Texans coach Bill O'Brien was still running things.

Be sure to check out the video above as ESPN Houston's John Grananto and Lance Zierlein share their thoughts on the reporter's line of questioning.

Plus, the guys weigh in on Stephen A.'s position, and answer his question with a resounding “Yes!”

Editor's note: The Stephen A. portion of the segment begins at the 9-minute mark.

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