On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2015 season.
The Opponent: Declared by many to be the big winners at the trade deadline, the Astros showed the fruits of it by taking a series against the Diamondbacks after sweeping the Angels. That leaves them with a big four-game lead over the Angels and eight games ahead of the Rangers.
Past 2015 Meetings: The Rangers are 5-4 against the Astros this year, and that includes a sweep in Houston in May. The Astros won the series last month 2-1.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Colby Lewis (11-4, 4.42 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers (5-3, 2.48); Tuesday — Yovani Gallardo (7-9, 3.39) vs. Mike Fiers (5-9, 3.89 with Milwaukee). Wednesday — Nick Martinez (6-6, 4.01) vs. Scott Kazmir (6-5, 2.10).
What's Hot: In his last seven games, Elvis Andrus is batting .333 with three doubles and a homer to go with four RBIs. It's continued a pretty nice extended streak dating back to the beginning of July, but recently he's brought some pop into it with extra-base hits. Shin-Soo Choo is batting .333 over his last six games with two doubles and a homer. Colby Lewis has been terrific as of late and has a great history against the Astros, even if these aren't your Astros of the last five years or so.
Rookie shortstop Carlos Correa should inspire hope in Astros fans for years to come, and terrorize Rangers fans for just as long. He's batting .375 with four homers and five RBIs in his last six games. Hank Conger, who just got in a dustup with Rougned Odor a couple of weeks ago, has six hits in his last 10 at-bats, including a grand slam on Saturday. Kazmir fired 7 2/3 scoreless innings in his debut with his hometown Astros after being acquired from the A's before the trade deadline.
What's Not: Yovani Gallardo now has four straight starts that weren't pretty, which might have gone into his staying put at the trade deadline. However, his last time out he allowed early runs and then settled in to retire 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. Rougned Odor is batting .185 in his last seven games, and Prince Fielder is hitting just .222 over the same amount of time.
Last year's AL batting champ Jose Altuve isn't having quite the year he had in 2014, and over his past six games he's hitting just .269. The back end of the Astros' dynamite bullpen has struggled over the past week, as well.
Familiar Faces: Scott Feldman spent a few years with the Rangers, earning an Opening Day start in 2009 after a 17-win season in 2008. He was then a solid hand in the Rangers' bullpen in their World Series years as a versatile swingman. Nolan Ryan, of course, is in the Astros' front office now after leaving the Rangers' front office following the 2013 season.