How weird is Mike Hampton's story? He returned to pitch for the Braves last season after missing 2+ seasons with injuries, and even though he wasn't anything special, he wasn't completely terrible either. And missing those two years means that Hampton has only previously faced two hitters in tonight's starting lineup - Willy Taveras, who is 0 for 4, and Bronson Arroyo, who struck out in one AB against Hampton way back in 2001. There are others who have faced him - for instance, Alex Gonzalez has faced him 43 times, batting .190/.209/.262 against the lefty - but the majority of the players who are playing tonight have never faced Hampton. That's kinda weird, isn't it?
Bronson Arroyo, on the other hand, is quite familiar with the current crop of Houston Astros, and not in a good way. Of the 7 Astros who have faced Arroyo 10 times or more, 5 have an OPS over 1.000 against him. The threesome of Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee have a combined line of .306/.444/.645 in 108 career plate appearances against Arroyo. Then again, Geoff Blum is 1 for 19 with 4 strikeouts, so we've got them right where we want them.
And while we're focusing on the positive, Arroyo's only complete game last year came at Minute Maid Park last August. So, he's got momentum.
Since it is Arroyo on the mound, we'll see Ryan Hanigan behind the plate and Paul Janish at shortstop. And with a lefty on the mound for the 'stros, Jerry Hairston Jr. gets the start in left. Darnell McDonald will be starting in RF for the still ailing Jay Bruce, who expects to be back in the lineup tomorrow. Thankfully, we've learned from Austin Kearns that wrist and hand injuries don't tend to linger.