MMQB: Lineup, #1, GA/AO, the clock and LR
Ah, yes, a day off. it’s the first one for the Astros this season and it give Bo Porter, Jeff Luhnow — and fans — the opportunity take a breath. So, let’s take a look at some things in the news, on the stats’ pages and the land of speculation.
Jose Altuve is home. Please leave him there.
- If the Astros have found 2-3 pieces of the long-term solution, Altuve — it would appear — is among the core. Therefore, it should be easy to plug him into the right hole, let him play and go about the business of finding the other pieces. That would include ending the where-does-he-hit-today experiment. Experiment if you must with the rest of the lineup, but hit Altuve second and be done. That consistency makes Dexter Fowler a better hitter and base runner and it helps whoever hits third settle in as well. Where would you write in Altuve for the long haul?
Carlos Rodon or bust?
- Earlier this year, NC State LHP Carlos Rodon was seen as the consensus #1 pick for the Astros in June. Now, it’s not as certain, with some projections pointing to various possibilities, including high school pitchers Brady Aiken or Tyler Kolek. Why? Rodon has struggled in some starts, though his overall stats seem solid. Unless he falls completely apart or is injured, Rodon will still be the odds-on pick in a couple of months. Mark Appel, Rodon, Cosart, Lance McCullers, Mike Foltynewicz, Oberholtzer (add any other names here) is starting to have a nice ring to it for 2015-17.
Harrell on the bubble.
- Fret all you want about Lucas Harrell‘s first two starts, but with Scott Feldman on leave for a few days and a 13-game stretch starting Tuesday, Harrell is likely the guy…at least for a while. Still, his offensive teammates could help. With early departures in his first two outings, the Astros haven’t scored a single run while Harrell was in the game. It’s not much better for Brett Oberholtzer, who has been the beneficiary of only three runs in three starts.
By ground or by air.
- If you’re looking for a reason for the higher success rate for Astros’ pitchers, look no further than the ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio (GA/AO). The Astros’ staff leads the American League (4th in the majors) with a 1.36 ratio. That ranking is true for starters and relievers, signifying there may be a philosophy in place for the organization. For the record, Jarred Cosart leads the league (1.89) and Dallas Keuchel is eleventh (1.25). Chad Qualls (1.67) and Matt Albers (1.50) lead Houston’s relievers.
Clock may be ticking.
- That other guy is still incubating, but Jon Singleton may be hitting his stride in Oklahoma City. The product of the Hunter Pence trade — shaping up to be a doozy! — has eight hits in his last 17 ABs with three HRs and seven RBI. With anemic hitting at the major league level, it could mean the clock is ticking for Jesus Guzman, Marc Krauss, Chris Carter or even Alex Presley. Singleton in the three-hole ahead of Jason Castro would energize the lineup.
And, a Monday lightning round:
- Best player long-term coming back from the Pence trade: Singleton, Cosart, Domingo Santana, Josh Zeid.
- Player hitting <.200 most likely to get his stroke over the next 10 days: Robbie Grossman, Dominguez, Castro or Carter?
- Finish the sentence: By July, the Astros will…
- One team ranks lower than the Astros in runs scored. (Hint: This team has hit only one HR this season too). Which team is it?
- Which one of these players is on pace for less than 100 K? Grossman, Villar, Dominguez, Castro or Fowler?