Whether it’s little league, high school, college or professional, pitching and defense are the keys to any successful baseball team. Few teams win without those elements and no team wins consistently.
Throw in a anemic hitting group, one of the worst defenses in the AL, and you have a 100-loss team. But, as you know, starting pitching has not been the issue for this year’s Astros. If the team had kept Jose Veras, or invested in the back end of the pitching staff, perhaps the kick to the finish line would have been different.
Take a look at some of these numbers.
71 quality starts, 51 wins.
- You can interpret those stats any number of ways, but it seems clear the Astros have provided enough starting pitching this season to make a decent team. Sure, you’ll lose a 3-2 or 2-1 game here or there, but even a decent bullpen combined with 71 quality starts should be enough to get to 60 wins by this point, no?
- Think about it like this: Boston has won 91 games with 87 QS and Texas has 81 wins with 71 QS.
Houston is 18-28 in one-run games and 13-17 in two-run games. Here’s a rundown of some of the lower-scoring games.
- 0-1 in 1-0 games.
- 3-1 in 2-0 games.
- 0-1 in 3-0 games.
- 4-5 in 2-1 games.
- 2-5 in 3-1 games.
- 4-3 in 3-2 games.
2.56 ERA for rookie starters.
- Since July 12, four rookie starters have not only been impressive, they have been dominant. During that span, Jarred Cosart, Brad Peacock, Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens have pitched 172 1/3 innings in 28 starts for a combined 2.56 ERA. Folks, the top teams in the league haven’t posted those numbers.
Meanwhile, the bullpen this season has been horrific. Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but consider these 2013 bullpen numbers:
- 60 save opportunities.
- 28 blown saves.
- League-worst 5.13 ERA.
- League-worst 229 walks.
- League-worst .275 batting average against, 22 points higher than the closest team!
- League-worst 82 HRs, 24 more than the closest team!
- League-worst 1.55 WHIP.
- League-worst .833 OPS against, .150 higher than the Astros’ team.
Okay, I’ll stop. But consider that just 21 blown saves could have resulted in a 14-game swing in the Astros 51-98 record. Can you say 58-91?
The obvious good news is that the Astros have apparently found the some solutions for the rotation. The bad news is that the team will need to clean house — with a couple of possible exceptions — in the bullpen.
With that news, here’s a little either/or to start your week:
- Best chance to be successful in 2014 rotation: Cosart, Peacock, Oberholtzer, Clemens.
- Not convinced on this one, could be a paper tiger: Cosart, Peacock, Oberholtzer, Clemens.
- Could make some noise in Houston at some point in 2014: Mark Appel, Mike Foltynewicz, Asher Wojciechowski or Nick Tropeano.
- In the dugout, most likely to be gone by December: Bo Porter, hitting coach John Mallee, pitching coach Doug Brocail, bench coach Eduardo Perez.
- Who do you blame the most for the team’s pitching woes: Jeff Luhnow, Bo Porter, Doug Brocail or Drayton McLane?
- What has contributed the most to Astros losing close games? Bullpen, lack of hitting, or defense?