Astros’ fans, it’s time for the third act

First of all, I hate losing to the Rangers.

It’s not the smug look from Rougned Odor. It’s not the “rivalry” — I feel more of a rivalry with the Cardinals and Dodgers.

No, as a former resident of West Texas, I have too many friends who are Rangers fans. Every time the Rangers win, they get this delusional idea that now — NOW — is when their run at the division begins.

I hate the false hope it gives those poor suckers.

Anyway, here are three things to ponder as Astros try to keep the Angels at bay … oh, and win the stupid Silver Boot. Whatever.

1. The Astros are into the final third of the season. For those not keeping track, the Astros have yet to finish a month below .500. July ended at 12-12. But each month has been successively worse. April was 15-7, May was 16-13, and June was 15-14. So far August has been 3-3. Damned Rangers.

Part of the problem for the Astros has been — surprisingly — defense. In six games this month, Houston has given up 27 runs, but only 22 were earned. That’s nearly a run per game the defense is giving away. Of course, Houston has scored 33 runs over those six games, so a little bit of bad luck seems to be hurting the win total.

Is this defensive stumble just an oddity? The addition of Carlos Gomez would seem to help the defense. But Jed Lowrie isn’t exactly Luis Valbuena at third base. And say what you want about Chris Carter at the plate, but I think his work around the bag at first is a little better than Marwin Gonzalez‘s.

2. The Astros have two days off next week. Monday and Thursday. Better still, there’s no travel on one of those days. Houston has a day off between playing at Oakland and at San Francisco. That rest — along with the free travel day back home on Thursday before playing the depleted Tigers — should help Houston reverse its trend with its monthly winning percentage.

Meanwhile, the Angels apparently have just one more off day this month and a total of four for the rest of the season. Will that grind take its toll on the Halos? Houston has six total days off for the remainder of the season. Will those extra days help with the beleaguered pitching staff and the stalwarts in the lineup?

After all, we all saw how one bad outing by Lance McCullers seemed to affect two games. Giving the bullpen and rotation a break now and then could pay big dividends come late September and into October.

3. George Springer is probably about two weeks away from returning. When he gets here, that outfield will have Springer, Gomez and … who gets sent down. No offense, but while a defense of Springer, Gomez and Jake Marisnick sounds like a pitcher’s dream, we’re talking about left field in Minute Maid. Colby Rasmus is much better than average out there. And even Preston Tucker can handle the position. My only problem with Tucker is his abysmal OPS (.466) vs. left-handed pitching. Rasmus is at least consistent no matter the pitcher with LH vs. RH splits of .774 and .748.

When Springer returns, is Jake the odd man out in the outfield? Or do we keep his right-handed bat and his superior glove, and send Tucker to AAA until September 1? For the record, Jake’s OPS vs. RHs is .692. Not exactly stellar, but better than Tucker … and we already have a left-handed hitting left fielder in Rasmus.

Have a great weekend, Astros fans. Here’s hoping for more Correa Crushes. (I’m copywriting that.)


143 comments on “Astros’ fans, it’s time for the third act

  1. The WHIP for the major Astros bullpen players are as follows (before today): 1.040, 0.851, 0.805, 0.910, 1.0495. We can not expect them to be any better than that. The are due to falter on occasion. Those numbers are comparable to KC’s bullpen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe I’m wrong but Neshek is a finesse pitcher and not a power guy who can bring the heat. He’s not bad but I’d much rather have a flame thrower with a hard slider in his repertoire. Didn’t he blow a save recently. Maybe a hitch in his giddy up?
    Anyway, Houston I believe we have a problem.


  3. I have to comment on this. JD Davis has a home run tonight for Lancaster, for the sixth straight game. He has 15 RBIs in those six games and only two K’s. Strikeouts have been what has kept him from entering the Top 10 Prospect lists up until now.
    Davis has 22 homers and 88 RBIs for the year. Chase McDonald hit his 21st for Lancaster and the game is not over. 7-0 Lancaster in the eighth, with Keegan Yuhl and Michael Freeman spinning the shutout.


    • J,D. Davis was drafted last year with A.J. Reed. They both are having unbelievable
      Seasons!! Drafted in 2014, and look how far they have come! Alex Bregman is doing the same THIS year!! The guys coming out of college are waaay better than they used to be!!


  4. If you just looked at the CC score tonight you would see they got beaten badly. But a quick look at the box score shows that Michael Feliz pitched the first six innings allowing no runs on 3 hits and three walks with a bunch of Ks.
    His relievers gave up ten runs in three innings, including some pretty bad work from Vincent Velasquez.


    • Velasquez is going to have a hard time trying to pitch out of the bull pen. Some starters find it VERY difficult making the transition from starter to reliever. I hope that’s not gonna be how Velasquez does….because luhnow is gonna rely on him come September. Feiz has pitched well the last month, I would bet he gets a call up when the rosters expand. No Brainerd huh??!! And….A.J.Reed went 2 for 4!! I hope the guys get out in San Frans is coming and sight see tomorrow, it’s a real cool city, and GREAT food!! I loved layovers in San Francisco!! It can take the bad taste out if their mouth about losing in Oakland.


  5. In the 9th, the slow roller by Canha is hit to Correa. He throws him out 99 times out of 100 but double pumps and he becomes the tying run. Reddick hits one that Gregorson fails to field. He makes the play and the game is over. If he does not touch the ball, Correa makes the play behind him and game is over. We can blame the pitching (which was not great) but decent defense wins that game. Baseball gods are unkind some days.


  6. I still have not gotten over that loss yesterday. By far, the worst loss this season (even moreso than the last 2 of the Rangers series and the final game in Toronto). The emotions of a huge Colby Jack in the top of the 9th and then some plays that could have been made, which weren’t, that led directly to the loss in the bottom of the 9th. If they could have held on it would have been a very emotional win and might have propelled them to a little run. It will be very telling to see how the team reacts after this extremely frustrating loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s actually worse than that.
    Your star shortstop goes braindead on a ball he fielded easily where Gregerson made the perfect 0-2 pitch.
    You shift on a backup catcher with no speed and then hold the runner at first and throw an outside pitch, inviting him to hit the right side of the infield, where the ball will go all the way to the outfielder, allowing a speedy runner to go all the way to third. Gregerson commented after the game that Phegley’s grounder should have been a tailor-made double play ball. If you don’t shift, they probably bunt, waste an out, and you get out of the inning with a win.
    Your only decent fielding catcher allows a passed ball
    You intentionally walk the speedy guy in order to face two Astro-killers.
    Your pitcher can’t field a grounder that if he misses completely, might be a “step on second/throw to first game-ender.
    Because you walked the speedy guy instead of pitching to him, you end up pitching to Valencia.
    Before any of that happens you have an Astros team with three hits through eight innings off a rookie. After the three run homer you have a team celebrating in the dugout, while there are still no outs and the next three hitters just sleepwalk through their at-bats, perfectly satisfied with a one run lead and our announcers talking about a clubhouse party after the game.
    Every mistake bigger than the previous one.


  8. I’m not going to lose any sleep. The club has come much further this year than most of us thought. I still don’t think they are done either. And really, this group is poised to be pretty special next year, especially if Kazmir gets resigned. We’ve got a whole lot of pitching stocked up at this point. I’m really looking forward to seeing McCullers turned loose. And who knows how VV will get used. And then there is Feliz on the horizon. There might not be room for McHugh or Feldman. And that would be a good problem to have. I also think we can fix first base in house and do it by early next year.

    One slightly troubling thing for me after yesterdays game was Gregerson’s reaction post game. Sure, frustration is boiling over a bit. But although subtle, he was not very impressed with the first guy reaching. Correa would tell anyone that he should have made the play. But that’s besides the point. He’s saved more outs for the guys on the hill than any shortstop in the league. Gregerson then questioned the shift that resulted in the next hit. Sometimes the shift backfires, but I’ve quit counting all the hits up the middle that have been turned into outs and DP’s this year as a result of the shift. And last, Gregerson had the game in own his hands. He failed to make a play on a ball hit right back to him that would have ended the game if handled.

    I can’t help but to think that someone from Fresno might be joining the club before the balance of this West Coast trip finishes up.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What’s odd to me is quick Gregerson was to blame the other guys playing behind him. Correa has been *nails* since he was brought up….and although he didn’t get that throw off as quick as he usually does….walking the lead off guy is NOT correa’s fault. I’m not gonna make excuses for the 9th inning….it was just a horrible way to end a horrible series. I promise you….this will get rectified, SOON.


  10. During that no-hitter last week, Tri-City faced a relief pitcher named Christian Turnipseed. It is one of the most interesting names I have run across and he is a 28th round pick(2015) by the Orioles out of Georgia Gwinnett College.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I know this is just a rant, but I want to add something about “the shift.” First of all I don’t know when it started but I saw it being used against Ted Williams. It is not brand knew. Since the ’50’s (and I am sure before) the 1st and 3rd would do a “shift” to avoid the double down the line and be willing to give up the single late in a game. So with a nod to a couple or more on here, I am not opposed to “the shift.” However, you have to play the game situation and so does the opposing batter. With no one on in a tight game, the shift gives up only a single. With runner(s) on, the shift easily gives up two bases. A hit between the infielders playing more normal, will probably be hit directly to the outfielder with a chance to hold the runner at 2nd.

    Rasmus got some knocks & credits for playing a shallow RF. If he catches the ball it is an out, but what if it goes over his head? You have swapped a single for a double or more. With two outs and no one on, there are no runs. But with a runner on base, you tried for the shallow out and gave up a run. The next time you see the entire field, notice with a hard shift that Altuve and Rasmus can almost shake hands (yes, a hyperbole). I do not question attempting to “guess” where the batter will hit the ball. However, I DO question why no one looks at “What happens if you are wrong?”

    As others have stated, I too am willing to force a power hitter to bunt and not try for a home run, but I am not willing to put the tying run on 3rd by being silly nor am I willing to give up the winning run by playing the RFer short in case the batter fails to hit his normal Texas Leaguer. (I feel better already. Maybe I needed an off day also)


  12. The addition of Kazmir, Gomez, and Fiers was 10 [or in Kazmir’s case, more] games ago. SSS [small sample size] I know. But dare we take a peek at each such addition’s contribution in that 10 or so game period – especially since this is August and there suddenly aren’t that many games left for the early trends to be erased?

    Kazmir Dreams: Scott had two fantastic games to start his long-awaited Astro experience. This was followed by an outing we would all like to forget, in which the Kazman sort of became his own worst enemy in the first inning. It was expected Kaz would add to our already strong rotation. He has instead been used to replace one of our rotation’s young stars – Lance McCullers, Jr. Suddenly LMJ is not even traveling with the squad. The official line is that Doug Brocail is somehow going to turn him into an ace. Scorecard on Kazmir: If by some chance we get to the playoffs, Kaz’s steady presence and experience could actually make a difference in how well we do there. I hope, however, that Kaz’s presence does not mean that we have seen the last start by LMJ this year. If we have, I personally don’t think the playoffs will be part of our 2015 experience.

    The Wild Fiers of Summer: The immediate effect of our addition of Mike Fiers was the demotion to the pen of Vince Velasquez. Unfortunately, Fiers’ tenure in Astroworld started out at the exact opposite of the spectrum from Scott Kazmir. Pressed into service a day early due to the first and only bad outing of McCuller’s Astro career, Fiers’ was unprepared for and badly overmatched by the Rangers’ sluggers. His implosion sealed a defeat despite our offense’s best effort in a long time [9 runs]. Against a significantly lesser offense, that of the A’s, however, Fiers looked like a workman-quality pitcher – despite being nowhere near good enough to overcome our anemic offense’s incompetence. Which brings us to the big offensive addition everybody was raving about.

    CarDon’tGo: We are now 10 games in to the CarGo era. CarGo has hit .238 for us – about 10 points higher than Jake Marisnick’s BA on the year. CarGo has given us a .273 OBP to go with his .238 BA; he has beat Marisnick’s OBP by 0.07 points. This was not exactly the 30 to 40 point improvement in both we were told to expect. In CarGo’s 45 plate appearances for the Astros thus far he has 1 HR, 4 RBI and 8 Ks. At least he has been good on the basepaths during this 10-game stretch. When he has gotten on base, has stolen 3 bases in 3 attempts. Defensively, CarGo has made one highlight reel catch that kept us in a game, and one ugly over-run blunder that played a big role in costing us a game. And the Astros’ record since CarGo came is . . . . I know, it’s not his fault, and SSS, and all that. But the point is, the ‘hump’ is still not overcome – not by a long shot.

    We’ll check back in 10 more games, and maybe things will look different.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Whether you see or not, Gomez is a quantifiable upgrade over Marisnick.

      Since we love cherry picking the stats that make our point – what was Marisnick’s BA the 10 days prior the trade? The 10 days prior to that? The 10 prior to that?

      Hint, they are so bad, that .238 is a quantifiable upgrade. His season average compared to Gomez 10 day average is no fair comparison. Marisnick hasn’t had a .238 10 game stretch since sometime in 1994 (there is some hyperbole for you).

      I’m no fan of the Gomez trade, I think long term we are going to feel like we got taken to the cleaners – but ignoring how much better Gomez (though certainly not one of the games greats or even an all star) is than Marisnick, nah, don’t do that. I would love to undue the trade, and just stick with the Kazmir trade – one I think was very good – but we can’t. We are where we are, and have a better CF’er to boot. Much better, unless you like watching Marisnick hit .185 for the next 10 games.

      As for Fiers and McCullers and VV – I don’t think its the last you have seen of LMJ, but probably is for VV this year. We knew something was going to give for LMJ though innings wise – so Fiers is probably a better candidate to get 3-4 starts that would have been given to Wojo or some similar pitcher.

      Now on to Carter and that non tender, there is something we all can support.

      The better news is how Hamels has not been ace-ly for Texas so far, and that haul that Philly got….


      • In the worlds of baseball and blogging, there is theory and there is reality. But in baseball the ultimate issue always comes down wins and losses.


    • It is funny how you want to use GoGo’s small sample size in comparison to Marisnick’s year-to-date stats to try and prove, unsucessfully, that GoGo and Marisnick are very close. Why not use Marisnick’s stats from April and just surmise he is better than GoGo? 🙂


      • Tim, where on earth did you come up with a reading of the “10-day SSS” post that in any way says that Marisnick is better than GoGo? You must have a chip on your shoulder a mile wide. Get over it. We are on the same side.


      • You implied, by comparing Gomez’s 10-day stats to JFSF’s season stats, that Gomez is only slightly better than JFSF. Re read the beginning of your 4th paragraph and get back to me.


      • Clearly, others are interpreting the same thing I am based on the other replies to your post. You made the implication that Marisnick, based on his total stats, was not much worse than Gomez, based on his limited Astros stats. You got called out on it and are now backtracking. Stick to your guns.


  13. Angels are in Chicago and face Chris Sale tonight. Sale had the worst start of his career last time out. Matt Shoemaker, sporting an 19-inning scoreless streak, will toe the rubber for the Halos. Injured California 3rd baseman David Freeze is said to be ready to begin a rehab assignment. He is expected to be back with the Angels long before Springer is back with the Astros.


    • Saw that, and thought good luck getting ANY hits off either one of them!! Josh Hader who we traded for Gomez, is predicted to be as good as Sale is one day. Made me sick for luhnow to trade him.


      • Through three the Chisox lead California 2-0. Sales has struck out 4, but has given up a triple to Victorino and a double to Trout – in different innings, fortunately. Shoemaker’s scoreless streak ended at 19.


      • Becky,

        I haven’t seen anyone say Hader will be as good as Sale. I’ve seen some say he reminds them of Sale with his build and delivery style, but to say he will be as good as Chris Sale is a very, very, very big stretch.


      • Final score: White Sox 8, Angels 2. We at least get to start the San Fran series in first place. Kazmir vs. Bumgarner. Any bets?


      • Mr.Bill…….although I’m a gambler, but unless our guys can break through on Bumgarner….well, let’s just say we will not win that game.
        McTaggart said someone called a team meeting after yesterday’s game, I hope this meeting was productive.


      • Becky, the second game of the series doesn’t get much easier. We go with Feldman’s 1.32 WHIP and 4.46 ERA; they throw 11 game winner Chris Heston with a 1.20 WHIP and a 3.48 ERA. On paper, our odds actually look better in game one. But if we do not get over this offensive funk, this could wind up being one of the worst road trips we have had in a long time.


  14. Tonight is a no lose situation. Playing the World Champions in their park and facing the World Series MVP on the mound with national TV coverage.
    Nobody expects a win, but the Astros and Us.


  15. The Astros have played 113 games and have 49 remaining. Their payroll for the season hovers just below $80 million, which is 25th in the league.
    So how are they doing as an organization?
    Astros are 61-52
    Fresno is 67-48
    CC is 72-42
    Lancaster is 57-56
    Quad Cities is 74-37
    The Astros’ committed payroll for 2016 currently stands at $46 million. Oakland is at $24mil, Seattle at $79mil, Texas at $111mil and Angels at $129mil committed for 2016.
    Things look good to me.


    • I must add that I, for one, wanted JL to go out and spend more money last Winter. So taking the current payroll (using ESPN) and discounting Kazmir or Gomez – here are the top 13 earning salaries for 2015.

      Feldman – $10 Million
      Rasmus – $8 Million
      Lowrie – $8 Million
      Gregerson – $5 Million
      Neshek – $5.5 Million
      Valbuena – $4.2 Million
      Carter – $4.175 Million
      Castro – $ 4 Million
      Qualls – $ 3 Million
      Altuve – $2,687 Million
      Sipp – $2.4 Million
      Conger – $1.075 Million
      MarGo – $1.062 Million

      These are fine MLBers but are not the nucleus of the team (in my opinion) – except the bullpen. To pay another $4 – 8 Million for a negative WAR player would be wasted money. I still believe the best trades made at the deadline are the ones that JL DID NOT make.


      • WAR is kind of shoddy to me.

        The team with the best record in baseball only has the 8th best WAR in baseball.

        The team with the third best record in baseball is 15th in WAR.

        That’s offensively. Keep in mind the Pirates and Royals are separated by a game – and the Pirates play in what is the best division in baseball (with the 3 of the 4 best records in MLB).

        The team with the best pitching WAR in baseball has the best record in baseball.

        The team with the third best record in baseball only has the 11th best pitching WAR.

        Apparently, pitching wins. Also apparent, it’s not WAR that does it. Pittsburgh has the third best record in baseball (in the toughest division), but offensively they are 15th in WAR and pitching they are 11th. And defensively – Pittsburgh is 26th in UZR. Some of these stats just aren’t good at telling the story.


      • Steven, we finally agree (maybe). My throw out line of -WAR was not aimed at anyone in particular. Just a measurement of something. I tend to ignore some (actually most) of the “advanced stats.” They are there and give me a general idea but are a long way from perfect.

        An example is how do you give a ball that is called a strike credit to the catcher. Umpires are human and not consistent. I place more value in whether a catcher can throw to first and keep the ball out of RF.

        In a discussion, you need some tape measure to determine comparison but if someone wants to rate Valbuena and Villar as equal defensively – – – need I say more.


  16. After a day off, we get to see who is hot and who is not in the MiLB. Justin Ferrell gets the start for Quad Cities. Chris Devenski goes to the hill for Corpus. Dan Straily gets another start for the Grizzlies. No announcement yet on which Lancaster pitcher will be expecting run support from J.D. Davis. I thought it was Martes’ turn.


    • We are seeing the same from J. D. Davis as we did with A. J. Reed, and I have no doubt he will be in Corpus very soon. These guys were drafted last year together, and they are good friends. Reed was awarded the Golden Spikes Award in 2014!!! That is the highest honor given to a college to a college baseball player. It’s been fascinating to see how fast these two guys have made their way through the minors!! I’ve said it for a year now…..but Corpus, and Lancaster are where our REALLY good players are!! I can’t WAIT to see these two guys and all the awesome pitchers next year!! Luhnow has worked pure magic with the minors!!


      • Davis’s K rate is way too high at 28.1%. He has a lot of work to do! Finish the year at Lancaster and maybe work on that contact rate in the winter!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. ok i got the scoop on chip. hang on a sec there are some men in black walking around outside. ok i don’t have much time….in a nut shell it involves jfk, jimmy hoffa and the astros offense of late. none can be found but its rumored chip is being held inside a saber statistic virtual reality machine located near the, hey wait. get that net away from me. stop helllllllllllp.


  18. It’s an all righty line-up for the ‘Stros tonight against Bumgarner. And Evan Gattis wlll be playing LF. As OP1 said, we’ve got nothing to lose in this game. May as well roll the dice – ’cause baby definitely needs a new pair of shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Carlos Rodon faces Hector Santiago tonight in Chicago. On paper, the advantage definitely goes to the Halos. But they don’t play these games on paper, do they? Bring that heat and tune up that slider, Carlos!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s