Fiers to start in place of McCullers, face Halos

Fiers to start in place of McCullers, face Halos

Right-hander Mike Fiers will return to the rotation and start Wednesday's game against the Angels at Angel Stadium in place of Lance McCullers Jr., who was scratched late Tuesday with arm fatigue. Fiers, who worked one inning in the bullpen Friday, will be making his team-high 28th start of the season.

The Astros lead the Angels by 14 games in the American League West and have a magic number of five to clinch their first division title since 2001.

Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-5, 4.86 ERA) will start for the Angels. He's 0-4 with a 5.61 ERA since returning from the disabled list and is seeking his first win since April 22. He's 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five career starts against the Astros.

Fiers (8-9, 4.78) was removed from the rotation Sept. 4 following the trade for Justin Verlander and McCullers' activation from the DL. He made his first relief appearance of the season Friday in Oakland, allowing two runs in one inning.

In his last eight starts, he was 1-5 with a 7.90 ERA. Fiers was terrific in his 10 previous starts prior to that, going 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA during a stretch where the Astros had starters Dallas Keuchel, McCullers, Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh on the disabled list at various points.

Things to know about this game

• Angels center fielder Mike Trout has reached base safely in 92 of 97 games this season. He drew his 84th walk of the season Tuesday and is trying to become the seventh player in American League history with three 100-walk seasons prior to his age-26 season.

• Astros third baseman Alex Bregman is hitting .330 with 46 runs, 20 doubles, four triples, eight homers, 32 RBIs, 22 walks and 10 steals since July 4.

• The Astros have 302 doubles this season, giving them a shot at tying the franchise record for doubles in a season -- 326 set by the 1998 team. Houston pitchers have already set a club record for strikeouts in a season with 1,411.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.