Random thoughts on a get-a-way Wednesday


If your goal for the 2015 Astros was just to make sure the Astros didn’t backslide, then wish granted. If Houston lost every game from here on out, the team would still tie the 2014 mark. So, you know, they got that going for them.

Welcome to 70 wins. Anyone think this would happen in August? Anyone?

Speaking of “70,” that’s how many runs the Astros will have given up in August … once the Astros give up one more run. That’s second-best in the AL. Good thing too, because the Astros have scored 87 runs, third-worst in the AL. Amazingly, Houston is 12-11 thus far this month. It’d be nice to finish another month over .500. Another small step toward the playoffs.

Home Runs: That the Astros are leading the AL in homers is no secret. But the team is also three home runs — one by Marwin Gonzalez and two by Hank Conger — away from having 11 players with double digits in homers. That’s a level of balance that makes this team so hard to keep down.

Colby Rasmus hits a pair, the Astros beat Detroit. Marwin hits a walk-off blast to top the Tigers. Carlos Correa‘s early homer helps get Houston to extra innings against the Rays. Jake Marisnick and Evan Gattis are all the punch needed behind Mike Fiers. Jose Altuve and Luis Valbuena provide the margin behind Scott Kazmir against those same Dodgers. Jason Castro clears the wall in left for the sweep. Carlos Gomez, Marwin and Gattis all go deep on a slugfest.

You can lament all day about the Ks, and, yes, I’d like to see someone besides Chris “Windmill” Carter at first base. But this team is always one swing away from runs. Most nights, every hitter in the lineup is capable of going deep at any moment. Get a walk or a single in front of that, and we’re looking at a crooked number on the scoreboard. For the record, 109 of Houston’s 172 homers have been solo shots. That means 63 swings resulted in crooked numbers.

With Houston’s pitching, often that’s enough.

The Competition: Meanwhile, the stRangers might have six guys in double digit homers when the season ends. Overall, Texas has scored five more runs than Houston. The Angels of Someplace Sunny are 40 runs behind the Astros on the season. Neither team is close to Houston’s league-leading team ERA of 3.31. The Halos are at 3.86, and Texas is at 4.37. Meanwhile, Houston’s bullpen ERA is a run better than the Halos and nearly two full runs ahead of Texas.

Too Much Talent: Houston has so many good options, it sent Preston Tucker with his .750 OPS to the minors because they don’t have enough room to play him. And you can keep your “send down Marisnick” comments to yourself. In his last 15 games, he has an OPS at .814.

If you want Hinch and Luhnow to cut it down to five starters, who sits? Fiers? The guy just pitched a no-no. Kazmir? He’s the gem of the trade deadline. Dallas Keuchel is going to win a Cy Young Award. Collin McHugh has slowly been dropping his ERA — it’s now at 3.96 — thanks to a 2.60 ERA over his last seven starts. Scott Feldman has been lights out. Lance McCullers is an ace waiting to happen.

That’s six starters. And we haven’t even gotten to Vincent Velasquez.

Some points to ponder …

1. It seems like there are too many pitchers. Should Houston end the Oliver Perez experiment?

2. What about the Rangers and/or Angels makes you nervous?

3. Do you miss Preston Tucker? If so, who does he replace?

4. How does 70 wins feel this time? You know, with 32 games left?

5. Houston has a lot of head-to-head games left with Texas and Someplace Sunny. Of course, they play one another, too. Are those the most important games left?

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60 comments on “Random thoughts on a get-a-way Wednesday

  1. Great article, Brian, and some very good points on our feast or famine lineup. We can lament it all we want, but, for the most part, it has proven successful. Of course, having great pitching is the primary reason for our success this season.

    I definitely don’t want to end the Oliver Perez expirament after one bad game. Until Monday, he has been very successful against LH hitters and this will come in handy down the stretch. The Rangers offense makes me nervous. I said months ago I fear the Rangers more than the Angels and I still do. They have more proven players, in my opinion. I like Tucker, but he needs regular ABs so I am fine with him getting sent down, but, like everyone else, would like a replacement for Carter. I think the upcoming 10-game road trip will make or break this season. If they can split that road trip, which includes 4 games in Arlington, I think they will win the division.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. .188/.212/.587. That’s Marisnick in August. It’s representative of what he’s done since the beginning of May. And one walk against 14 K’s in August. Brian, I won’t say a word if Jake keeps up his .814 OPS over his past 15 games, but I’m sure I can find a 15 game stretch where Carter has produced an .814 OPS. I root for Jake. There is no other back up guy in the organization that brings what Jake does, excepting the lack of hitting of course. But 23 part time at bats over a 15 game stretch do not yet qualify as a trend.

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  3. *What about the Rangers and/or Angels makes you nervous?*

    Nothing, really. Both teams have strengths, and both have weaknesses. With a 3.5 game lead, however, the Astros control their own destiny. Whatever the Angels and Rangers do, we just have to do a little better. What makes me nervous is seeing Chris Carter still on this team, and getting at bats. It is not another team’s players that will hurt us most – it is our own.

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  4. 1. What? I recall the outing in the ninth against NYY as the only bad outing by Perez.
    2. Rangers handled us too easily last series. Angels have Pujols…who has to do his best work against us, right?
    3. Not really. Carter/Gattis/Tucker are the same player in my mind. Replace some of the Ks from the first two with weak contact and you have Tucker. I think the trip to Tony D land will help him get back in a groove.
    4. Feels great. Let’s get greedy and aim for a 30-2 finish.
    5. They are huge because the Astros control what happens in the standings. It’s most important not to lose those games. With other matchups, you still have a chance to hold your ground in the West when you lose.

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  5. 1. HRs. How many times have we swung for # 173+ when a single would have us at 71 or more wins. I know that is totally subjective, but a perfect example was Beltran two nights ago just making a medium deep out to win the game. 2. Competition. Every win – we gain on somebody. That’s all you need to win the division. If the Astros go 18-17 the rest of the way. The Rangers need to go 25-13. Just avoid a losing streak. 3. Springer keeps Tucker in AAA or on the bench. 4. I love watching the games this year. 70 is great. 90 is better. 5. All the games are important. If you play .500 ball against everyone – that removes the losing streaks. It is always better to win against your head to head opponent, but a win against anyone is better than a loss.

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  6. Anyone see the movie Limitless, we need that pill for JFSM and we’re in the WS. If the Gomez from last night shows up the next 5 weeks and Springer back, we have the winner.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. *I don’t think we have too many players or pitchers. Hopefully we are six days away from having four more, including Springer. I don’t want to get rid of Perez. I just don’t want him pitching the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game anymore. At least, not for us.
    *What makes me nervous about the Rangers is that, in their handling us pretty soundly in our meetings this year, jerks like Odor and DDJ act like they should own us. I don’t like it and I don’t want to face those two with Conger behind the plate either. I think the games with the Rangers for the rest of the year are going to seal the deal on this rivalry and the Astros had better bring their A game to them. The Rangers are going to make Astros fans forget about the Cards and the Cubs, once and for all. Next year, the tickets for the games between these two teams are gonna be hot.
    *Yes, I miss Preston Tucker. I don’t even want to talk about it.
    *Seventy wins are Awesome! and completely overshadowed by #71, tonight, on the road, against the Bronx Bombers.
    *From here on out, every game is equally important and they can’t afford to waste an effort like the one Feldman had the other night. they have to score a run or two for a guy who delivers a shutout and not get thrown out at second on a steal or picked off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Let’s not forget their backup to a backup to a backup catcher, 32 year old Gimenez stole 2nd off Conger. Conger needs to DH and pinch hit from now on or sit and tell jokes with Carter.

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  8. I can’t find info on the DSL playoff format, only the scores.
    Yesterday the DSL Astros Blue beat the DSL Blue Jays for the second time in a series and apparently won that series by 2 games to none because this morning, they are playing the DSL Rangers and are up 5-0 after two innings. Don’t know how long this semi-final series is for, though I suspect it could be a best of five.
    The DSL Championship may be the hardest of all to win because there are 38 teams in this league. You finish first in this league, it is a huge deal.

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  9. Congratulations to the Fresno Grizzlies who clinched their division championship and a playoff berth for the first time in their history last night with a win in the second game of a Doubleheader. Appel was the winning pitcher in that game.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. While I don’t think Marisnick is and .800 OPS guy, I’m just saying that Luhnow seems to have made the right call for this moment.

    As far as Perez goes, if we had to dump a pitcher, he’d be my choice. He’s been mostly OK, but if you look at the whole staff, he’s the weak link. Which just shows how amazing our staff is.

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  11. I have kept waiting for someone who hasn’t been hitting to get hot – I think Gattis may be the answer for a few weeks. Suddenly he has more than a clue.
    Nothing would be better for this team than a successful road trip after all the road woes of the last 3 months. C’mon Astros!

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  12. 1. Should Houston end the Oliver Perez experiment? No – I think we need a loogy in the pen and I trust he will pretty good in that role over time.

    2. What about the Rangers and/or Angels makes you nervous? The Rangers have the better overall team in my eyes, but their relief pitching looks hittable… we just need to have someone/anyone hitting when we play them next.

    3. Do you miss Preston Tucker? If so, who does he replace? I agree that he does not need to be sitting on the bench. He had been struggling a bit so I did not mind giving him a steadier diet in the minors.

    4. How does 70 wins feel this time? You know, with 32 games left? This year has felt so good to me. No matter what happens down the stretch, this team has been relevant all the way through to now and if they play better (like they have lately) will be relevant all the way to the end.

    5. Houston has a lot of head-to-head games left with Texas and Someplace Sunny. Of course, they play one another, too. Are those the most important games left?
    The head-to-heads are critical because every game is a 2 game swing. I will say the 10 game road trip they will take in about a week and a half will be critical from a psychological stand point.

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  13. You take uncle Albert and Trout out of the Angels line up….and they are meh.
    You take Prince and Beltre out of the Rangers line up……and they are. Meh.
    The Rangers pitchers are beatable on any given day. The Angels have the pitching that is kinda scary. BUT…..so is OURS!!! So nah we ain’t sceered of nut’n!!! This was winning Wednesday!!

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  14. Oh by the way Mr Odor had to come out of the Rangers game yesterday because a ball he tried to catch ripped his finger nail off!! So
    He will be out of their lineup for a few days.
    Karma is a b*t*h!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Brian, I agree, Luhnow/Hinch seem to be making the right calls. Suddenly, after the most recent road swoon, this has been a tough club to beat, with timely walkoff hitting and the best starting pitching in baseball. Then the sudden explosion for 21 runs in New York. And too, personnel decisions that have mostly worked. It was an absolutely beautiful day at the Stadium. I especially enjoyed the mostly Yankee fans around me grumbling about losing badly again to the damn Houston team.

    Liked by 1 person

    • daveb – That is one of those priceless moments. It is like when the Texans beat the Cowboys. I love it when the team I hate loses. And I am over the moon when the team I root for is the one that beats them.

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    • I hope the Yankee fans can get over this because I think it is something they may see a lot of and I don’t want them unhappy all the time.
      Maybe they could talk to some AL West fans and find out how they might deal with this sort of thing in the years to come.
      OK let’s see Correa at SS, Altuve at 2nd, Reed at 1B, White, Moran, Springer, Tucker, Bregman, Fisher, Keuchel, McHugh, Appel, Musgrove, Martes, Fiers, VV, LMJ, another Tucker, Cameron and on and on.
      This could be tough on them. Perhaps some anxiety drugs might help.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my goodness that’s an UNBELIEVABLE team you have there oldpro! And just.think, that’s not even counting the baby Astros in rookie ball!

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  16. Becky, some of them were not the sharpest tacks in the box, but between the three of us, we had on three Astro hats, two Astro shirts and one pair of snakeskin boots….my Texas based niece.

    We took a bit of abuse, but nothing like I’ve been through before. The Yank fans were having a hard time dealing with McHugh throwing goose eggs early. And the second Gattis homer was great, because the home crowd all turned around and went home at that point. Got pretty quiet for the duration. Ha. Ha.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Somebody asked me last week about Keegan Yuhl and there is a good write up and interview with him at Climbing Tal’s Hill today.

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    • Oldpro….Thank you for telling me about.this Keegan!! Sounds like one talented pitcher! If Joe Musgrove is his friend, he must be awesome! Four pitches already, and his Era is microscopic!! That’s saying a lot for a guy whose pitching in Lancaster! Well, that’s another talented arm coming up soon! I’m so excited for this organization that we have such great talent still waiting for “the call”!!

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    • Sandy…the Angels got a good dose of Verlander! As bad as his year started out, he’s baaaack! Glad we don’t have to face him very often!
      And by the way….glad to have you back with us on Chip’s blog! It gets lonely being the only girl on here!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. While hitting is streaky and mercurial pitching and defense can be the constants that lead to championships. We are clearly superior to the Rangers and Angels in both departments. I was looking at defensive team stats yesterday and the Astros are second to Baltimore in fielding percentage but we are first in the defensive/pitching stat that matters most; runs allowed. We are first in ERA, WHIP and home runs allowed. With the possible exception of Perez every pitcher has carried his weight and then some. With 128 game in the books those are not small samples. The pitching staff has also been injury free for the most part. No one we have counted on has been sidelined significantly with the exception of Feldman but just like last year he has come back from an injury and pitched extremely well in August and I hope September. We allowed a pretty strong Yankee team 3 runs in 3 games in their yard. I think we’ll handle our rivals with dispatch and win the division going away. It makes for a good story anyway.

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  19. One of the strangest stats this year is run differential. The Astros have scored 98 more runs than their opponents. The Rangers, Angels, & Mariners have been out scored by their opponents. And in last place, the A’s have a positive 10 runs. (Per Yahoo this AM)

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  20. So here we sit at the end of August with a day off to reflect on a 5.5 game lead:
    Gomez has been in a slump, but shows signs of awakening
    Carter has contributed nothing, but is on the bench
    Correa has taken over at SS
    Lowrie has returned, but in a slump where he is hitting the ball hard right at fielders
    Gattis is coming around, and with power.
    Springer will be returning soon for the stretch run
    Marwin is one of the best utility players in baseball
    Castro is the true starting catcher, as the team is 51-37 with him behind the plate.
    Tucker will be back
    Stassi will be coming up, so we will finally have a RHB option at catcher
    We have the best pitching staff in the AL and the #2 relief corps
    Rasmus and Valbuena are contributing
    We have one of the best defensive teams in the league and Marisnick to come into the game late if needed.
    Our closer has rested since Sunday.
    Altuve is hitting well over .300 again.
    Our starting pitcher for tomorrow is coming off a no-hitter and has had a week to rest.
    We face three right handed starters in Minnesota.
    We get to see Byron Buxton play.
    We got to see our star shortstop take a much needed day off, while we beat the Yankees in their park, again.
    Sweet!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. However our team finishes this year it’s been so much fun. It’s great to see so many folks sporting orange around town again. People dont whisper behind my back anymore or look at me with pity, they’re high fives and thumbs up when I talk about my Astros.

    The last few years have been tough. Waiting for some tiny spark on the horizon.
    I couldn’t see or hear the games and sometimes I felt like just giving up. But I couldn’t do that. This wonderful group here kept me going. Im so thankful for all of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Has anyone noticed that Matt Duffy has 99 RBIs for Fresno this year? Add in 17 HRs a .307 BA and a .383 OBP, with only 80 Ks but 48 BBs in almost 500 PAs, and you’ve had a pretty fine year, young man. He’s 26 y/o. Any chance he and/or Tyler White gets invited to have a cup of coffee with Max Stassi in Houston after the AAA playoffs?

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    • Well….if I’m hearing Luhnow correctly, he’s focused on a lefty reliever, catcher, and another infield guy…….that means “you know who” will get called up. (((((UGH))))
      Would love to see Duffy, or White either one come up….and between the two White has the edge.

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    • I think the chance for Duffy or White to get a cup of coffee are slim this year. Looking at the 40 man and list of guys who will be eligible for the Rule V next year, I think it’s too tight to make non-obvious moves. Carter and Valbuena might not be in our camp next spring, but it’s unlikely their 39 combined HR get cut for a look at an milb guy.

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  23. I don’t know what to think Bill. Our GM has stated that he does not want to over crowd the clubhouse and cause distraction from the job at hand. If I had to guess, I think it’s Carter or bust. As a side note, Joe Sclafani is on the Temporary Inactive list, so he’s not even in on the AAA playoffs. Boy, I sure feel for the guy.

    As an aside, I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum today. A most sobering, restrained tribute to all the souls lost that day and a real reminder of the continued struggle for the sweet freedom we live everyday for.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are braver than me….the only reason Delta airlines wasn’t used as a missile that day is because our name didn’t have “United” or American on the side of our planes. That
      Day changed my life forever, as well as yours.
      Sometimes I think we take the freedom we have for granted….thank God my son was deployed to Iraq, but since he flew the C2 he didn’t see combat. Thank you for the prayers you said at that site……the wonderful souls that were lost that day heard you.
      Fondly, Becky

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Copus Christi Hooks manager Ronday.lanais has been named manager og the year for the Texas League!! Cool!! My phone won’t let me spell his last name correctly. Danged phone.

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  25. It seems to me that the Astros have returned to their non-designatedball roots, which was something of a surprise on two fronts. First that they are getting quality starts from everyone, and second that the pitching has ‘overcome’ the hitting.
    What we need is for neither Texas or Angels of Someplace to win less than 60%, Beating them heads up would be the easiest way to do this.
    The last guy in the bullpen or the last guy on the bench doesn’t hold our regular season fate in their hands. The playoffs, of course could be a different story.

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