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?
Marisnick has more stolen bases because he’s on base more than last year. Altuve has less stolen bases because he’s on base less than last year.
The Astros are winning because they are more mature, because they are better defensively, because their bullpen has been solid, because Marisnick 2015 and Valbuena, are much better hitters than Marisnick 2014 and Dominguez.
Keuchel and McHugh really are good pitchers.
The other teams haven’t been successful against us running because Hinch is a former catcher, the Angels and Rangers and Mariners are bombers and not runners, and because the Astros have had more leads than they did last year.
Hrmm, do we lead the league in getting picked off? That seems to be an issue on our milb clubs this year as well…
Still amazed with the lack of Carter, Gattis decent last night, Spinger pretty weak and not the real Atltuve yet, 7-6 vs 4-9. I don’t give a crap how one wants to massage it. AWESOME!
AND my wife is happy beciuse she doesn’t have to hear me complain every game about that slow, lethargic, hody hum,, Matty D anymore, Thank you Valbuena
Corpus Christi faces the “phenom” tonight. 18 year old Julio Urias on the mound for Tulsa.
The Fields conundrum is a point I posted about yesterday. Some say DFA Thrasher
but leaves Tony Sipp as the lone lefty, and sending “name I shall not mention” to Fresno only gives you Marwin on the bench to play the infield. Sooo it will be interesting to see what Luhnow does.
Will Harris was brought in to face lefties last night. Drellich tweeted about the Astros’ confidence in him facing lefties, so that is a hint as to what the Astros might be thinking.
He also tweeted that the Astros weren’t going to “bail” on Thatcher. There are a few options there if no one is hurt by Thursday’s day off.. Drellich believes it may be an 8-man bullpen.
1. Send Wojo down and let Deduno get a spot start or two.
2. 8-man pen, meaning sending down a position player. Possibilities would include Villar or Grossman. Carter is out of options.
3. DFA Thatcher, who won’t be going to Fresno.
4. Trade or injury.
Did I miss one? Clearly Fields is ready to return. What a nice problem to have!
Being lazy, 7-6 & 1/2 game in front is about the only stats that are important to me. As to Fields, Chip has written posts in the past about the log jam or whatever. Fields is a first. The choice comes down to whether a performing MLB player is dumped on behalf of a player that appears to be about equal but may have a great upside. Not banging on Wade or JL but it is rather easy to trade a MLB player for a bunch of prospects and say “Check back in a few years.” It will become very difficult now because the improvement will need to be shown immediately (within the same season). Fields is the first. We can expect many, many more.
Adding to the log jam part. Buchanan (25), Chapman (27), Cruz (24), Fields (29), Straily (26), Stassi (24), Matty D (25), & Hoes (25) are still in the minors. Time is running out on the 40 man space for some of these guys. I realize you need to “rat hole” a pitcher or two in AAA – but there are younger players that are going to need to be protected by this Fall. All of the above are not late bloomers. It is not panic time yet – but a crunch is coming.
Yes sir, AC, the “cleansing” process is an ongoing project. However, it’s going to get more difficult as better prospects wind their way up the system. It’s one of the reasons Luhnow “sold” off some of the younger guys this winter.
You may not have noticed, but here are a few names that were deemed expendable over the past several months. The Astros either outrighted these guys off the 40-man, they were claimed on waivers or they elected free agency when it was clear there wouldn’t be a spot for them.
* Paul Clemens.
* David Martinez.
* Jesus Guzman.
* Jorge de Leon.
* Anthony Bass.
* Josh Zeid.
* Marc Krauss.
* Ross Seaton.
* Rudy Owens.
Not to mention the three guys taken in the Rule 5 draft. There will always be fat, but some fat is good for you. And the fat will always be relative to the good meat. And this year’s “meat” may be next year’s “fat”. Just sayin’…
Fields has to come up when his DL stint ends, or he will be claimed. Of the other guys on the list, only Stassi looks to be more than a placeholder/insurance policy. If they can get a better job in another organization then I’ll wish them luck. Buchanan and Cruz are the only two with, in my opinion, a chance to remain on the 40 through December.
Devin, not sure what you mean by “…when the DL stint ends”. He can be on the 15-day DL for quite some time. In fact, he could remain there until the end of the season if necessary. However, he can remain on a rehab assignment for only 30 days (20 days for non-pitchers). FIelds was technically sent on the rehab on April 11, so theoretically, he’s good until May 10. He won’t be there that long, but “legally”, he’s good until then.
Well, they are off on the 23rd, but not again until the 11th. 13 pitchers make sense right now. Our starters are not throwing enough innings. I guess that means Oberholtzer remains odd man out for awhile, unless we have another arm go on the DL. At present, Fields is a more valuable commodity than Villar.
But I also think that Oberholtzer replaces Wojo as soon as he’s ready to go.
nice story on kemp at the spit place today
■Jake Marisnick and stolen bases….I’m probably more surprised with his .324 BA and .881 OPS
■Luis Valbuena and Lowrie (HR and RBIs) – I’m probably more surprised that Springer is 5thon the team in RBIs, Gattis 11th and Carter tied for 12th
■Springer (20), Chris Carter (19) and Evan Gattis (18) would lead the team in Ks? Oh, wait…I’m probably more surprised with Castro’s 12.5 K% and Marisnick’s 15.8
■Four pitchers (Chad Qualls, McHugh, Harris and Pat Neshek) would have double-digit K/9 averages? I’m probably more surprised with Keuchel’s 6.3 K/9 IP while still being a stud ace
■Houston would have one .300 hitter and his name wasn’t Altuve? Early on not that surprised – I am more surprised that the Astros won more than they lost when the meat of the lineup puts up numbers like Springer (.549 OPS), Gattis (.423) and Carter (.224)
■The Astros would be in first place for four days in the first two weeks of the season? I am frankly surprised because they were playing some very good teams (from 2014) except for the Rangers to start the season
■Jeff Luhnow and A.J Hinch would have made only one roster change thus far?
That is a surprise
Relative to Devin’s pick-off question about the Astros
– The Astros are tied with the Yankees and Tigers with 3 runners picked off to date for first / worst in the league.
– As far as losing runners on the bases other than pickoff (like getting doubled up on a line drive or getting thrown out trying to advance) – they have lost 4 runners that way which is tied for 5th worst (though since they are tied with 4 other teams they are exactly at the league average). And they are nowhere near the league worst Whi-Sox who have lost 9 runners on base other than pickoffs.
– On the good news side – their 14/15 SB % of 93% is third in the league and the two teams in front of them Boston (9/9) and Oakand (7/7) are not close to them in number of attempts.
Don’t tell Becky, but “You Know Who” was picked off and Pujols missed the tag. So maybe she is being quiet because it did not count in the stats.
Calling forth the Astros’ Mendoza and Sub-Mendozas:
1. Chris Carter – .071/.152/.071/.224 – 19 Ks
2. Jonathan Villar – .077/.200/.077/.277 – 3 Ks
3. Hank Conger – .111/.333/.444/.778 – 5 Ks
4. Evan Gattis – .130/.184/.239/.433 – 18 Ks
5. George Springer – .170/.273/.277/.549 – 20 Ks
6. Robbie Grossman – .190/.261/.381/.642 – 7 Ks
7. Colby Rasmus – ,200/.273./.500/.773 – 12 Ks
The race is on. Let’s see who gets out of the Mendoza line doghouse first!
Poor Mario Mendoza…just a guy out trying to support his family. 🙂 And he becomes the separation point between mediocrity and the mediocrity-deprived. He’s the Mason Dixon of baseball.
My money is on either Springer breaking out soon. At this point in the season, it would take only a couple of hits over each of the next 2-3 games to be somewhat respectable. On a related subject, do you realize Carter has only three hits — all singles — this season? While offering up a 42% K rate? That would put him on pace for 236 Ks!
I saw a tweet that I guess was supposed to make us feel better about Chris’ struggles thus far. The point of the tweet was that last year Carter struggled in his first 13 games too, hitting .171 in those games, also with no home runs. The fact that he’s twice as bad so far in 2015, still with no home runs, is supposed to make us feel better? Color me hard to please.
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Mr. Bill, I saw that. Problem is, Carter hit below that .200 marker until July 11. Not sure Hinch or Luhnow can tolerate that this year.
somebody hit him with a pitch!! last year he seemed too laid back (much like this year) and got hit by a pitch and that was when he started hitting. make him mad. about ready to try anything at this point.
And…tonight’s lineup has a little twist to it…Marwin in for Lowrie.
Can’t we put Lowrie at 1B tonight instead?
Marwin can play a good SS…….he proved it last year when “you know who” couldn’t get his head outta his……
How do you try to break a three game losing streak? Sit Carlos Correa on the bench and put Gio Mier at SS. I always wanted my best players in the lineup to help my teams win. OTBG! WTHDIK?
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Ha! I got that one! 🙂
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Oh baby – huge 5 run rally in the 8th for the Astros – hope they hold on for the win – going to sleep!
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Altuve steals 3rd (6-3 in the 8th) – padding his stats or how he plays the game?
Watching the replay, JFSF should have stayed at 3rd. We did not need that run. He would have then kept Altuve from stealing 3rd and the team lead in SBs. I guess he took one for the team and went ahead and scored giving up his short lived personal glory.
Final is 6-3 Houston. Fabulous job by the bullpen tonight. Fourth win in a row.
and extend their FIRST PLACE lead!!
WHAT. A. GAME. I guess the old saying the third time’s a charm……..because
this team got the bases loaded THREE times, before Altuuuuuuuuve hit a bases clearing double! McHugh was all over the place tonight, I hope it was just a fluke, and not his finger. DANG……it feels good to win!
When Altuve came up in the eighth inning with the bases loaded again, he took two “George Springer” swings and was down 0-2. So I’m thinkin that he’s going to back off and just try to make contact. That third pitch comes in on the inside corner and he just jumps all over it. The third baseman leaps but it is hit so hard that it’s in the corner before the third baseman comes back down. Marisnick never slows down from first to home and scores standing up with no throw.
Watching Seattle last night was like watching the Astros for the last four years. A bobble by their best player leads to five runs, The umpire wouldn’t give their pitchers a thing during the rally, and the Astros relievers come in and get strikes called on everything. Seattle never had a chance in the ninth inning. Qualls’s pitches were moving all over the place and the Mariners were done.
Last year, Seattle was in playoff contention because their bullpen was amazing. If they can’t replicate that performance…and I say they can’t…then they are vulnerable. Let’s hope this win and the excitement of such a big rally keep Houston fighting for victories in all games this year!
Finally, it’s our turn.
How come no one here is talking about Kemp getting lots of time in the outfield? Sounds like Houston thinks his bat can play there – they obviously won’t move a gold glover off 2B for any reason other than Altuve locking that spot down.
Also, Fresno lost in extras, but Domingo Santana went 4-5 last night and is up to .316
/.381/.632 after a slow start. Presley and Hoes are hitting well, and Tucker has an OPS of 1.080 so far.
Honestly, I try not to talk about Kemp and Tucker because I’m afraid people are tired of me doing it.
Could you please talk about them so I don’t have to. Thanks
(You could mention that Tucker leads the PCL in Home Runs and RBIs. That way people don’t think it’s me talking about it.)