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 2016 season.
The Opponent: The Astros haven't been good this year, but they're a win on Thursday night away from sweeping the first-place White Sox out of the AL Central.
Past 2016 Meetings: The Rangers swept away the Astros in a three-game set last month, continuing their dominance against Houston dating back to last season.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Colby Lewis (2-0, 3.12 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers (0-0, 9.64); Saturday — Cesar Ramos (0-2, 4.32) vs. Mike Fiers (3-1, 4.63); Sunday — Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.10) vs. Dallas Keuchel (2-5, 5.43).
What's Hot: Ian Desmond is hitting .346 with a double, two homers and six RBIs in his last six games. He's also 2-for-2 on stolen base tries. Rookie Matt Bush has three MLB appearances under his belt, but he's been lights out with 4 strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. He hasn't allowed a hit or a walk, only a hit-by-pitch to a guy named Joey Bats.
There might not be a better player in baseball so far this year than the Astros' pint-sized second baseman Jose Altuve. The dude is a hitting machine, and he's batting .500 over his last six games. George Springer is hitting .310 over the same span with two homers and eight RBIs.
What's Not: Two guys who were supposed to be high leverage bullpen arms, Tom Wilhelmsen and Shawn Tolleson, have each thrown 1 1/3 innings in the last week. They've given up six and seven runs, respectively. Now, Tolleson is demoted from his closer's gig and Wilhelmsen is in Triple-A.
The Astros' bullpen is about like the Rangers' at the moment, as Luke Gregerson has blown two saves in the last week. Dallas Keuchel is off to an awful start this year and his last two times out continued that trend as he has given up 11 runs in his last two starts (12 1/3 innings) on 16 hits.
Familiar Faces: Former Rangers folk hero and front office man Nolan Ryan is now in the Astros' front office after a fairly contentious split from the Rangers. Former Rangers' opening day starter Scott Feldman is now an Astro, and of course Delino DeShields was a Rule 5 steal from the Astros but he's trying to work things out in Triple-A Round Rock now.