Players to Watch: Diamondbacks vs. Astros

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May 25, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Oliver Perez (59) is removed from the game by manager Chip Hale (3) during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks (49-51) continue to surge against the American League this season.

Their offensive performance against the Seattle Mariners was a major factor in helping them sweep the M’s, win their 5th game in a row and pick up their 8th victory against the American League this season.

The D-backs outscored the Mariners 20-7 during the three games combined and are now just two games below .500 and seven games out of first in the NL West.

But, an offense explosion won’t necessarily be the key to defeating the Houston Astros this weekend.

In fact, the Astros are 4th as a team in all of baseball in total runs scored with 456 and the D-backs aren’t too far behind in 6th place with 442.

So, we know both teams can score runs. We also know both teams have been not as of late. The Astros have won three in a row and eight of their last ten, while the D-backs have won five in a row and seven of their last ten.

But, when it comes to pitching, the Astros are the superior team.

The Astros are 7th in the majors with a staff ERA of 3.49. The D-backs, meanwhile, are much farther South on that list. They have a staff ERA of 4.03, which is 23rd on the list.

The Astros also have the 4th highest total wins with 58 while the D-backs come in at 17 with 49.

So after looking at all of that, it is clear that pitching, not necessarily offense, will be the deciding factor in this series.

Because of that, three of the four players to watch on this list are pitchers who will be starting at some point this weekend.

Let’s take a look at what the Astros and D-backs have in store for us: