Don’t look now, but your Houston Astros are on a three-game winning streak.
Here are some notes to whet your appetite. The Astros:
- Are 3-1 on the road this season.
- Are unbeaten (6-0) in games in which they score four or more runs.
- Sport a 7-0 record when they score first.
- Have used 12 different lineups in 13 games.
- Are now 15-8 at Safeco Field, their best record of any stadium in the majors.
- Were 5-8 after 13 games in 2014, 4-9 in 2013.
- Have not lost a game in which they have led at any point in the game. Think about that.
Spreading the love.
If Houston hopes to win this year, it will need to support the entire rotation. Last night’s win was the Astros’ first when a pitcher other than Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh or Scott Feldman started. The team had not previously won when Brad Peacock, Roberto Hernandez or Asher Wojciechowski started the game. In case you’re wondering, Houston is 2-0 behind McHugh and the team has given more run support to him (5.40 per start) than any other starter.
Those darn stats.
Houston is still mired in last place in the AL in batting average (.207), but leads the league in stolen bases (14) — while only being caught stealing once — and is second in home runs (13) behind Baltimore. Individually, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Luis Valbuena, Jed Lowrie, Keuchel and McHugh are each ranked in the top 10 in various individual statistical categories. Houston’s pitching staff is third in the league in ERA while the bullpen is second in ERA (2.06) and WHIP (0.79).
One area of particular concern may be the number of innings worked by Houston relievers (48), fourth most in the league. By comparison, Detroit relievers have pitched 28 2/3 innings and the White Sox relief corps 33 2/3.
Perhaps as a result of Mr. Keuchel’s contributions, Houston starters lead the league in ground out/fly out ratio with a 2.0 average.
The Fields dilemma.
Josh Fields, once projected this off-season as a possible closer contender, is stranded on the Fresno island. He made his fifth appearance on a rehab assignment last night and has been eligible to return from the DL since April 10.
With the Astros’ bullpen working successfully on all fronts, Houston may be forced to give up a position player to make room for Fields on the roster unless an injury or trade pops up unexpectedly.
However, here’s one solution not previously discussed: Fields for Wojo. Yes, it would seemingly put the Astros down a starter, but Sam Deduno could get a spot start or two until either Brad Peacock or Brett Oberholtzer are ready to return.
Driving the point home…and down.
Someone has taken most of the gas cans out of the bullpen. Just how good has the Astros’ pen been? To accentuate the turnaround, here are some lines you may like to see:
- Luke Gregerson. 7G, 7IP, 2H, 7K, 1BB, 0.00 ERA.
- Will Harris. 5G, 7.2IP, 1H, 9K, 3BB, 0.00 ERA.
- Tony Sipp. 6G, 7.2IP, 4H, 6K, 1BB, 1.17 ERA.
- Sam Deduno. 4G, 7IP, 5H, 6K, 2BB, 2.57 ERA.
Did you catch this improvement?
Last year, Houston catchers allowed 109 stolen bases and only 32 caught stealing for a .773 opponent success rate. Throw in 14 passed balls and 57 wild pitches and it doesn’t bode well for keeping runs down.
This season, opposing runners aren’t running as much and Houston catchers (and pitchers) are faring better. This year, Houston has allowed only six SBs, which would translate to 74 over a full season. Throw in only one passed ball on the season and you’ll see a vastly improved area of the team not previously noticed.
Who’d have thunk it?
Before the season began, how many — be honest now — would have thought…
- Jake Marisnick would have as many stolen bases (4) as Altuve after 13 games?
- Luis Valbuena and Lowrie would lead the team in home runs (5 and 3) and RBI (7 each)?
- Springer (20), Chris Carter (19) and Evan Gattis (18) would lead the team in Ks? Oh, wait…
- Four pitchers (Chad Qualls, McHugh, Harris and Pat Neshek) would have double-digit K/9 averages?
- Houston would have one .300 hitter and his name wasn’t Altuve?
- The Astros would be in first place for four days in the first two weeks of the season?
- Jeff Luhnow and A.J Hinch would have made only one roster change thus far?