Phillies at Houston Astros


It’s on the road in Florida again today for the Phillies (1-0-1), who travel to Kissimmee in the central part of the state, about 23 miles below Disney World, to take on the Houston Astros at 1:05pm as spring training Grapefruit League action continues.

The only broadcast availability for Phils fans who are interested in catching today’s action comes from, which is available via subscription. The team will be back on local TV via Comcast each of the next two days.

The Astros were a 1962 NL expansion team, originally nicknamed the Houston Colt .45’s, who changed the nickname for the 1965 season. In 2013, the franchise was switched to the American League by MLB to obtain balance between the two leagues, and as a natural rivalry in the AL West with the Texas Rangers.

Many Phils fans, Old Heads such as myself particularly, will never forget the 1980 NLCS between the two teams, one of the greatest postseason series in baseball history. The Phils rallied from down 2 games to 1, and defeated Houston in 5 games to advance on to the World Series. The final four games all went extra innings in that memorable showdown.

Here in the present day, the two teams are at different stages of a rebuilding program. Houston has been fully engaged in theirs for a few years now. Perennial contenders from 1994-2006, they were swept in the 2005 World Series by the Chicago White Sox, the franchise’ only trip to the Fall Classic in their history.

Since then, the Astros have fallen on hard times. They have now suffered through six consecutive losing campaigns. From 2011-13 they lost more than 100 games each season, bottoming out at 51-111 in 2013. Last year, Houston finished 70-92, and their 4th place finish was the first time since 2010 that the team did not finish last in their division.

More from That Balls Outta Here

But as I stated, Houston has been building their talent base. For the last three seasons, the Astros have received the top pick in the MLB Draft, and for the 3rd straight season, Baseball America has ranked the Houston minor league system among the top 10 in the game.

The Astros have an emerging offensive talent base, led by defending NL Batting champion 2nd baseman Jose Altuve. Former Phillies prospect 1st baseman Jon Singleton, catcher Jason Castro, slugging DH/1B Chris Carter, outfielder George Springer, and newcomers Colby Rasmus and Evan Gattis provide plenty of pop. They have young outfielder Jake Marisnick as well. Their outfield might be getting too crowded, in fact.



Houston will be starting righthander Collin McHugh, who had a true breakout season a year ago. In 2014, McHugh came out of nowhere to go 11-9 in 25 starts with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP. He had a 157-41 K/BB ratio across 154.2 innings in which he yielded just 117 hits. This came after his not being able to crack either the Mets or Rockies woeful rotations in either of the previous two seasons.

I feel normal. Just a regular spring training for me right now.” ~ Lee prior to today’s start

For the Phils, the big story today will be the first outing for veteran lefty Cliff Lee, battling back from an injury-shortened 2014. There is very little chance that Lee will end 2015 in Phillies pinstripes. The hope is that he will prove himself to be healthy and effective, and make himself valuable in trade talks. There are already a number of teams known to be closely watching him.

Lee has reportedly looked really strong in his bullpen sessions down in Clearwater. Jake Kaplan quoted Lee just yesterday: “I feel normal. Just a regular spring training for me right now. It’s going to be good to get back into some game scenarios and face some live hitters.