If you’re looking for a coherent theme to today’s Astros’ entry, too bad. It’s not going to happen. This is as random as that time all your buddies were talking about cars or football, and you suddenly said, “Is it me, or does it seem demeaning to men that most of the Disney princes don’t really have names?”
Not that I’ve done that.
Really. I swear.
But anyway, so changing the subject abruptly again, here are two random Astros thoughts. I hope you enjoy them. Like a fine wine or some other random thing. … See, now it’s like I’m not even trying to make a coherent thought.
1. Lance, Don’t Unpack
Welcome to the Big Leagues, Lance McCullers Jr. I hope you realize that your days in Houston are numbered.
Tucker isn’t taking the place of an injured player. Instead, he’s taking the place of an ineffective player. And if he hadn’t shown signs of becoming effective, he would have been sent back down to AAA. Correa, when he comes up, will also be taking over for an ineffective player. I’m looking at you, Jonathan Villar.
Oh, sure, you could say, “No, he’s taking over for injured Jed Lowrie.” But if that were true, we’d have seen Correa in Houston weeks ago.
McCullers, though, is coming up specifically to take Brett Oberholtzer‘s spot. Obie got a blister. Lance is coming to Houston. It’s as simple as that. When Oberholtzer gets better, I’d expect McCullers to be sent back down — at least for a little while — unless Hernandez starts stinking the joint up.
Furthermore, I’d bet Luhnow is champing at the bit to send Lance back down to make sure he doesn’t qualify for Super Two (or does qualify, I’m not sure how to say it) status. So McCullers will make a couple of starts, then Obie’s finger will be better and Lance — unless he pulls a serious Collin McHugh impersonation — will be sent to Fresno.
Oh, and that idiot who wrote this is all to increase his market value for a trade is wrong. Look at it from Luhnow’s point of view. He can sell a phenom who is on the doorstep better than a phenom who came up and got knocked about a bit in a spot start. Because, and let’s be honest here, as good as McCullers is, there’s every chance he gives up four runs in five innings and takes a loss tonight. That version of McCullers doesn’t have the value of AA-dominating McCullers, and Luhnow knows it, so why risk harming his value for a potential trade.
No, this is just Luhnow saying Houston needs a fill in for Obie, and picking the best farmhand for the job.
2. Year to Year
So, as I write this, the Astros are 25-13. After the May 17 game in 2004, the Astros were 15-28. After the 38th game in 2004, the Astros were 12-26.
That’s a big turnaround. A 13-game turnaround.
How have they done it? Well, despite the 29th batting average and an OBP of just .302 (25th), the Astros have a slugging percentage of .419, which essentially ties them for 6th in the majors. Oh, and there’s the bullpen thing.
But the Astros also have a Defensive Efficiency Rating that’s fourth best in the majors. Last season, Houston finished 21st in DER. If you look at Defensive Runs Saved Above Average, the Astros have 15 (third best in the AL).
Suffice it to say, the 20 errors committed by the Astros is tied for fourth best in the AL. The 33 double plays is tied for fifth most. The .986 fielding percentage is tied for fourth.
If you look at 2014, Houston had the fourth MOST errors, not fourth least. The Astros were still a double play machine (sixth). But the fielding percentage of .983 ranked ninth. As for defensive runs saved, Houston had -15 for the season, which ranked seventh.
So you can tout the homers and come-back wins or that crazy-good bullpen. But I like this new defense.
Some things to think about:
1. When Obie gets better, what do you do with McCullers? Send him down? Put him in the bullpen? If you keep him, who goes away?
2. Is Tucker here to stay?
3. Does sending McCullers back down for Super Two reasons make you … Mad, Glad, Resigned to the fates?
4. Oddly, Houston’s outfield did not score well on Defensive Runs Saved Above Average. Marisnick was really bad. Does that confirm your belief that all defensive stats are voodoo?
5. What has been the biggest pleasant surprise defensively to you this season over last?
6. The change in the record is pretty amazing. After Tuesday, Houston will have played 40 games which is essentially the quarter turn on the season. What kind of record over the next 40 games will make you start believing in the playoffs?