Sunday update: Are Astros just tiring from a long season?

A few random thoughts this Sunday as the Astros still struggle to reach pre-season goals for the team many thought would do good to hit .500 or just above.

Is the team just tired?

Several players — including pitchers — have hit career highs in many categories, faced injuries all season or have had inconsistent playing time for one reason or another. Too much, too little or too inconsistent time will certainly present potential draw backs for a player and a team. For example:

  • Dallas Keuchel has already exceeded his IP career total and will likely add another 20+ IP to that, playoffs notwithstanding.
  • Same for Collin McHugh, who is already 30 IP (182) above his career high (154) and will likely join Keuchel in the 200 IP club.
  • And that Lance McCullers Jr. guy is so far above his nor (140IP to 104), his 21-year-old frame is bound to notice.
  • Evan Gattis had never played more than 108 games in a season until the 141 this year. His batting and slugging percentage are below career norms and his OPS is at a low for his career as well.

That list goes on, but the rotation and even the bullpen have reached a point where they need a second wind to push through the next few weeks and perhaps the next month.

A major league season is a grinder and even Carlos Correa, Preston Tucker and others are playing baseball in a part of the year they haven’t in a long time, if ever.

Those dang lineups!

It’s been a battle for A.J. Hinch all season, one that has plagued previous Astros’ managers as well. The first-year manager has used 141 different batting orders and even started 114 different defensive lineups. That’s what happens when players don’t perform or miss considerable time with injury. Consider.

  • Ten different players have hit second in the batting order. This is generally one of the most consistent areas of your lineup, especially for playoff contending teams.
  • As for third in the order? Now that Carlos Correa has settled in (is he the right guy long term?), it’s better, but six different players preceded him in that role this year. SIX!
  • Ten different players have started in left field and Houston is still searching for the answers at the two corner infield positions, supposedly anchors for a contending team.
  • Any idea who has the most starts at third base at left field this season?

Not to mention the injuries…

You can argue that some of these aren’t significant losses, but each had been plugged into roles in April and caused Jeff Luhnow and Hinch to alter plans on the fly. It’s just another area that causes an engine to not purr as smoothly as it should.

  • Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock — thought to be key potential key rotation pieces only several short months ago — have been virtually non-existent in 2015.
  • Lowrie missed 82 games to the disabled list.
  • George Springer was out 60 games.
  • Sam Deduno has been out and, Scott Feldman is now out for the season.
  • Jason Castro (17), Jake Marisnick (15) and Josh Fields (15, plus a strange minor league demotion) also missed time due to injuries.

Yes, every team has its own battles, but Houston has had little chance to get in a groove. Some of it is self-inflicted (e.g. trades, depending on players like Jonathan Villar et al), but part of the success of a playoff team is how well (read: St. Louis) adjusts during the course of a season and stretch run.

And, yes, this season was not won or lost in June or July, it will be won or lost in the next two weeks. Sounds simple, but IP, games played, injuries and lineups will become more critical now.


180 comments on “Sunday update: Are Astros just tiring from a long season?

  1. Lousy base running indeed and actually a poor mental effort from Altuve this evening. I was at the game and it looked like he was out of it when he got picked off, he glanced to right field on the hit by Lowrie which may have cost him a few beats that would have made the difference (although that was a fantastic throw by Calhoun. I didn;t realize he had that kind of arm.) and he brain locked when Murphy broke late for the plate when Perez forced Murphy to go. OTOH, Correa is a stud. 19 homers before his 21st birthday and a real clue at the plate. The RBI double was a real nice piece of hitting and clutch. Overall the quality of at bats this evening was really good. Can we have that kind of production from our top three the rest of the season? Please.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doc, Correa and Altuve and Springer brought it to the plate tonight.
      Just think, Tyler white had 3 homers and 10 RBIs in two playoff series, Singleton had a good bat and Kemp was the MVP of the PCL finals with 9 hits and 20 at bats in the final series and nine RBIs in the playoffs from the leadoff position.
      The Astros really could have some good hitters in their lineup next year, if they are allowed to play.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I get pissed off every time I think of bringing up the guys in the minors, when all they get to do is watch from the bench while Carter swings and misses every time he gets to the plate. It will be interesting to see if Hinch will let Singelton play after their game is over tomorrow . I guess that’s what they are supposed to do…..sit down and shut up. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Keuchel was really good tonight. When the Angels scored I don’t think they hit a single ball that would break glass. It was a hoot to see him break Aybar’s bat on two consecutive pitches.


  3. Foley was rushed to the hospital yesterday, with swelling and redness in his right arm. He had surgery this evening to remove part of one rib, to help dissolve the blood clots. He will remain in the hospital for at least one more day, and go home with blood thinners for about 6weeks. It would appear his year has ended, but he’s gonna be ok. Thanks, Becky ⚾


  4. Glad for the win and really hope all ok with Folty and Chips Dad. Hopefully young LMJ can just keep himself calm , pitch, and don’t let a missed call ruin your night, we need you.


  5. If the Astros can, at a minimum, split these next 2 games with the Angels they will be in a good position for that 2nd WC spot. However, because of their trouble winning on the road, I feel they have to sweep Texas if they want to win the division. Seattle scares me right now. They are playing great baseball and Cano has really picked it up. They went into Arlington and slowed down that Rangers freight train. At this point I would be happy just getting a win in Seattle and Arizona (2 wins on the road trip). That should be enough to make the playoffs.


  6. I want the Astros to win the division. Anything after that is gravy.
    They have the chance to get out front at home and I don’t think I or the team would be satisfied with letting the Rangers take it.
    The last time we faced Santiago we presented an all right handed lineup that swung up at his pitches the entire night. We hit 15 fly balls and three line drives. We had two solo homers and were 0 for 2 w/RISP for the entire game.
    Altuve had four at bats and saw only 5 pitches. He got thrown out stealing by Perez.
    Conger was the catcher.
    I expect more discipline tonight against a pitcher who is usually wild.
    This is a game we need to smash line drives all over and put this guy out early.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. By the way, I think I projected the Astros to finish the year 80-82, and I really appreciate the effort they have made this year as a team and an organization.
    I am too tough on them, but they have played great and entertaining baseball.
    They won their 80th game last night.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sandy, I am delighted that Castro is starting. Why? Because it tells me that Castro’s LH bat against a LH pitcher means less to the Astros than does Conger’s bad defense. To me, that is a step in the right direction. Castro has a .308 career BA against Santiago.
      Duffy being called up for help at the corners means a lot more to me than Singleton’s call up would have. It shows me a recognition that Duffy could be a help to the team in the future.
      Carter starting tonight over Duffy, doesn’t bother me too much, because he is also a RH batter and has good numbers against Santiago in 12 at bats. He has a homer, a double, two singles and 4 RBIs and two walks against Santiago.


  8. Good luck to our Fresno Grizzlies tonight!! They have an interesting lineup with LJ Hoes as the DH. I really hope they pull this game out, because it validates the progress this organization has made in the pipeline to the majors! Now…..back to OUR boys tonight, we need a good game out of Mccullars. He’s wading into uncharted water, he’s got such a great arm, I just hope he can rest it over the winter, and come back next year to take his spot in the rotation for good!! Let’s hope that Matt Duffy can at least pinch hit for someone tonight….it makes me sooo angry that Hinch and Luhnow don’t trust him to start. AND…if you want a “club Astros” T shirt you can buy one at the park, or order one through the Astros website. I thought of you OldPro, I know you will want to order more than one!! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!!!!! Go ‘Stros ☆☆☆


  9. I’ve got another guy we need to keep our eyes on, his name is Jon Kemmer. Bats left and was in the 2013 draft, he’s an outfielder that can make us forget about Maverick….who by the way was called up today. Like A.J.Reed he’s got BIG power. Look him up, he’s gonna be up here by the end of July next year…..mark my words!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Every now and then, a sturdy bloke can hit. And I’m not talking Gattis. White will clog bases on occaision, but he will work counts, get a pitch, and drive the ball. What is he, a 33rd round pick?


  10. Top of second in EP: Kemp singled and stole second, Presley singled him home. White just missed a homer with a drive of the top of the wall, Presley scored, 5-0.


  11. Fresno wins 7-0. Devenski gives up 1 hit in seven innings. Jankowski gave up a hit in the eighth and Hoyt gave up a single in the ninth. Total domination, Fresno just coasted the last four innings. Best player on the field tonight was Presley, but Tyler Heineman is very good behind the plate and Tyler White is a hitter. He just needs to improve his body.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Astros leaving men on. McCullers totally back on his game after his rough first inning. I’ve recorded it and I’m going to go back and see if the Astros can find a way to pull this thing out.


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