One series: What does it all mean for Astros?


The Astros lost their three-game series in New York to the Yanks in fairly spectacular fashion. After a solid come from behind 5-3 win on Makeup Tuesday, they coughed up two big hair balls in a row. On Wednesday, Collin McHugh luckily got one out while giving up five runs or his ERA would have been infinity rather than 135.00 and the Astros were trailing 6-1 after one inning. The Astros rallied back to close the gap to 6-5 in the second inning and everyone relaxed until Michael Feliz and his bullpen buddies imploded leading to a 16-6 blowout. On Thursday Mike Fiers coughed up a 5-2 lead and new reliever (notice – not called closer) Ken Giles piled on giving up a 3 run homer in an 8-5 loss.

So what are we looking at here?

  • The Astros are 1-2 and wasted solid, but not over the top offensive efforts in the last two games of the series. Six and five runs would have won a lot of games last year.
  • Last season the Astros started off 1-2 against Cleveland after winning the opener and they were at home to start 2015.
  • The Astros gave up 24 runs in the last two games.
  • In all of 2015, the most the staff gave up in two consecutive games was 22 runs when they were collapsing against the Rangers in mid-September.
  • Are the Yanks a really great and patient offensive team? Have they figured out that you lay off the Astros off-speed stuff outside the zone, take your walks and then stroke those sitting duck fast balls out of the park?
  • It is hard to say. Certainly some of that happened with McHugh and perhaps with Fiers was based on that. Feliz looked like a young guy thrown into the fire and told to throw 100+ pitches no matter what happens. Giles continued a bad trend from spring training of running his fastball into the meat of the opponents bat.
  • Certainly the conditions were not ideal to judge anyone’s pitching as both teams’ staffs looked fairly vulnerable. Well, the Yanks bullpen blew the first game, but locked down the next two with a series of 6′-10″ 100 mph hardballers from the ‘pen, or so it seemed.
  • And Carlos Correa went 0 for 4 in the last game. Time to sit him down – right? He isn’t hitting over .500 anymore.
  • On the other hand Tyler White looks like a “hitter” – plain and simple. If they sit him when Evan Gattis returns they will regret it.

The starting pitching is the key here. The Astros with Lance McCullers out are a more vulnerable staff. If McHugh regresses more (last season he regressed a good bit in ERA, but still won 19 games due to run support) they could have continued troubles. The problem is that too many short games by the starters takes a toll on the bullpen. Bringing Chris Devenski up was smart as they would have no one in the bullpen to go more than an inning or two while Feliz recovers from pitching a complete game worth of pitches in 4 1/3 innings.

It’s only 3 games, the first 100 yards of a marathon, but the fans are worried. Is it justified? What do you think?

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186 comments on “One series: What does it all mean for Astros?

  1. Second caught stealing in this game. Are these guys doing this on their own, or is it the dugout giving the steal sign. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

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  2. You know what I have seen besides scary SP, a lot of Sloppy baseball. I think they may have all spent the offseason reading to many articles on themselves. Hinch needs to kick some ass!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Vince Valezquez first appearance 6.0 IP 9K, 0 R. We wish we had a pitcher with those stats.

    Nice Tucker homer. Looks like he belongs and Marwin does not at this point.

    So, we are through our first rotation and got exactly ONE quality start. If we happen to take this series today against a guy who shut us down in the Spring, some real positives to hang hat on considering out BA’s, poorly aggressive base running etc. Either way though, our judge of pitching talent looks very bad right now. The thought that we can right this ship seems optimistic, unless we find that catcher and replace two or three SP’s. Right NOW!

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    • Is it the fact that we have struck out 11 times in the first 7 innings, or the fact Carlos Correa suddenly looks very, very human, or the fact that George Springer is hitting .174 with about a .200 OBP, that makes you feel that way, Dan?

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  4. And that’s the ballgame. The only reason I’m pi$$ed off, is this game was winnable and our guys went to sleep on the bases…..and Keuchel thought this was 2013.

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  5. I’m going to give them a break today….. because they left ST and went straight to New York to start the season. That makes around 7- weeks without seeing home
    When they see and hear all the hoopla that this city has in store for them, they will play better…..at least I hope so and sleeping in your own bed does wonders for your soul. When they see the park completely sold out, and fans making a LOT of noise I’m sure that will lift their spirit’s!!! They need some comfort food!!

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  6. The way I see it, they have played two series so far and both of the teams they faced were better teams than the Astros. I’m pretty sure the next series is going to be the same way.

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  7. We just have not had any of our starters pitch well. Keuchel at least showed tenacity, but the others all collapsed completely. Good heavens I hope Lance McCullers comes back healthy and stirs this group of deer-in-the-headlights guys up! And other teams have learned that we have only ONE hitter – Tyler White – who knows how to handle an off-speed pitch on the outside part of the plate.

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  8. Perhaps I will regret saying this – but I think I need to see a few more games like maybe 50 to 60 more to get a feel for this team.
    – I’m guessing that 19 game winner Collin McHugh will go more than 1/3 of an inning next time out.
    – I’m betting that former batting champ Jose Altuve will remember how to hit
    – I’m thinking that the team that won 65% of their home games last season, might do better when they play a few at home.
    – I’m praying that George Springer will go on one of “those” tears.
    – I’m believing that guys who have pitched well in previous years like Giles and Neshek and Harris and Sipp will do so again.
    – I’m hoping that Feldman and Fiers will pitch like they’ve been on a big league mound before.
    – I’m positive that Jason Castro won’t end the season with one hint (a bunt single against the shift in his stats.

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  9. It appears to me that teams are starting to make adjustments to counteract the Strommie Scool of pitching. Astros pitchers are going to have to make adjustments in kind. Guys with fastballs 85-90 mph have one less tool in the box to make those adjustments. Fingers crossed….

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    • Nance…..Keuchel and Wandy were the only two pitcher that had a decent spring.
      The rest of the rotation kinda sucked. I don’t think it is Strom….he’s not the one whose walking guys all over the place in the last 6 games. I’d like to see Devinski get a start, and McCullers will be back next week, so there’s two young guys who can breath new life in the rotation! They had better not lose the game tomorrow, because I’m going to be at the game! First opening day I’ve been to in YEARS!

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      • They wouldn’t dare.
        I’m going Sunday. My son in law is from Michigan so we’re seeing the Tigers instead of the Royals. Not my choice.

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      • Becky – my post wasn’t intended as criticism of Strom. He has certainly worked miracles in past years with turning guys like Keuchel, and McHugh into quality finesse pitchers. But teams that are patient seem to do well against them if umpires do not have a generous strike zone. This is one reason why pitch framing is probably more important to Astros than hitting in selecting a catcher. Keuchel also seems to have more command problems when he has to pitch out of the stretch which fortunately is not often because of his high percentage of weak ground ball. I think the pitch selection is also becoming more predictable. Sitting on my couch I can usually guess when the back foot slider to the right handed batter is coming. Smart hitters are learning to lay off and hope it’s not called a strike. So as hitters adjust, Keuchel and McHugh will need to adjust. With their velocity, that is simply one less tool they have to work with. Hard throwers do not seem to blossom as well in our system. Velasquez, Cosart, Appel come to mind and were all traded away. So far, McCullers seems to be the lone exception. I wonder if some of Giles early struggles are related to having to adjust to a different pitching philosophy. I read an article somewhere that the Astros were trying to get him to pitch more up in the zone than before. Just some Momday morning musing…

        Liked by 3 people

      • Nance, it will be interesting to see how the umpires adjust. The tracking data shows a lot of bad calls over the first six games on balls/strikes. Either that system gets recalibrated or the umpires will feel some heat from the league office. It’s bad business to have announcers (from both teams) pointing out the bad calls and lack of consistency.

        Still, I agree with you. Fiers in particular doesn’t have the stuff to survive as a fly ball pitcher unless he is effectively changing eye level and disrupting timing. His control has to improve.

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      • I have to agree with you, Nance. It goes back to my earlier statement that last year the Astros took the league by surprise. This year other teams have done their homework and know what to expect.

        I don’t think the FO has confidence in the hard throwers due to the short left field.

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      • Velasquez was lights out at every level when he was healthy. He wasn’t given a terrible amount of time at the big league level to adjust. I think Appel is one of those guys that fools mediocre hitters a lot but is going to struggle at the big league level at times. I’m not sure he was ever good enough to warrant a 1-1. Trading VV was in my opinion a mistake, he has the talent of a solid, legit number 2 – but he might be 2-3 years away from fully realizing it.

        I think pitchers are products of themselves. I don’t like the Astros philosophical approach to pitching in the minors, but I think a good pitcher is going to be good regardless and a not so good pitcher is going to stay that way.

        Our ace is an ace. The problem is the number 2 guy is really a 3 type workhorse guy, and after that is rotation fillers like Feldman and Fister. I think this team is a playoff team and will be there at the end. If they want to be successful in the playoffs though they are going to need a healthy McCullers to pitch in line with his talent, grab that number 2 spot by the horns, have a good season giving him confidence going into the playoffs. He is the only guy we have with the talent to be a legit number 2. Fiers and McHugh can probably give you decent playoff starts but its going to take Keuchel and McCullers winning theirs. If Fister or Feldman are forced into our playoff rotation we are likely to lose a 7-5 game in which they pitch just 5 innings.

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  10. Just came on this morning and saw several notes from folks here. Thank you and don’t mind me too much. Altuve says this morning the locker room believes they can go out and win the big one. Then he adds, “We just can’t think about it too much. It’s a long season.” That’s pretty much how I feel. I just prefer lower expectations and not putting too much pressure on these guys. First thing you know, they won’t enjoy playing anymore, and that delicate chemistry can go.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree Diane. I think the lack of expectations helped the young team stay loose last year and the fact that they were having fun probably added a few wins. Not sure what the stat is for that. Is it WFF? Wins from fun? Or WTF – Wins through Fun?

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      • Ab-so-lutely. Forget baseball. I can say from my own life that when peeps put super-high expectations on me, it’s very likely my performance will start to falter. Unconditional love can work wonders. This year, there’s been some studying going on among the competitors. Ain’t gonna be a walk in the park, Minute Maid or anywhere else.

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  11. I dont want to cry about this bc hey its baseball, just two series’, but I agree with Nance’s (& Devin’s) assessment of long-term pitching issues, and bad calls. Didnt see the data, just the eye test – when Girardi tells his guys to take till they get it up in the zone, the umps help out w/fewer corner calls made in our favor. Pretty good gameplan by those Yanks. Our guys have been put in difficult counts. All things have a way of evening out, though – right, Dan?

    Agree, Steven, our 2 is a 3, all things being equal to a smaller regression than we have thus far seen. In fact, I thought Collin and Hinch looked real chummy the day after that shillacking. Over a long season..

    Yep, we have help on the way – you better believe these high expectations come with more responsibility to pony up, bopart!

    And when things are going poorly, the “list” begins of which players had better get off the Schneid. The tops right now has to be headlined by our CF saying he wanted to retire a Brewer, while he has 9 SO in 21 AB’s, slugging 333! Dude? Really? Then just go. We can go right down the line with “what in the hell has happened since Spring?” The obvious bright spot is White, and as I said early on – he needs every AB possible! When does he go to cleanup, or -(oh boy here comes the criticism over his speed) – go ahead and hit#2? we’ve seen enough already, he’s for real. The guy hustles and is always on base seems like. Anybody see a problem with that at least while Springer gets his head out?

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    • I made the case that McHugh was more of a 3 than 2 and got roasted by most on here. He got run support to help him get wins, but his peripherals say he’s a 3.

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  12. Getting ready to walk out the door! Cross your fingers and toes that Collin McHugh shows up to pitch tonight!! I’m still stoked about the Tyler White news!!

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      • I am up in 216 Tim.
        Crowd is huge Bill – took me 30 minutes to drive a mile and a half and another 20 to get thru security.
        McHugh pitched the first like somebody who has been hacked off at himself for 4 days.

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      • Hey Dan….I just walked in the door from the game….and what a game it was!!!
        We were in sec 153 second row. As a matter of fact we sat so close to Springer we could talk to him! The guy sitting in front of us heckled the Royals RT fielder, but he never turned around to even smile at us!

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  13. I’d love to see him batting second and yes I did consider his speed (or better) lack of. I’d rather have a slow guy with a high on base percentage than a probable strike out.
    White batting second and Springer fifth. Just to see what happens.

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    • Solid cheers – probably more for the nifty 3-6-1 DP he started. I thought Tyler was going to die of exhaustion – had to break off first base on about four straight 3-2 pitches to Tucker.

      It was really loud during both 3 run rallies. Fun time!

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  14. Bigger cheers as White whacks a double – his second hit of the game – but that was after a big ovation for McHugh battling out of bases loaded 1 out in the 7th.
    Not too often a guy drops his ERA 129 pts in a game (or needed to)

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  15. Did Sipp look as bad live as gameday made it appear? His velocity seems significantly down, and his command appeared poor as well.

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    • Watching on TV his command improved as the inning went along. Velocity was 88-90. The HR ball was over the middle of the plate, but down at the knees. Unfortunately, Morales seems to hit Houston better than he hits anyone else.

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  16. Sipp needs to start throwing his bread and butter pitch, the fork ball. That was his go to pitch last year, and he gets more misses with that pitch than any other pitch. I loved the way McHugh walked off the field after the first inning…..he was a man on a mission. The boys needed to come home and see a sell out at Minute Maid. Great game, great pitching, and great hitting!

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    • Becky, it’s great you had the energy to go downtown and hang out in all that for hours. Of course I know you’re a fan, but still it says a lot about how you’re feeling at this point. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hopefully, last night we found ‘bedrock’. It is a long season, and we need a sense of who we are. McHugh still did not have his best stuff, but he never lost focus. He faced and fought through every challenge, and overcame every mistake he made like a champ. Has he been taking lessons from Kid Keuchy?

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  18. Carlos Gomez is hitting more like Preston Gomez. Is it legal to make your third base coach run laps after another bad game?
    Thank you, Colin McHugh!
    Tyler White or Chris Carter? Oh my gosh, I don’t know. That .553 BA makes it rough.
    Brewers lose 10-1, yesterday. WTH!
    Can we have a sellout every night?

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    • OP1, I started to say that Carlos Gomez was hitting more like Carmen Miranda – but then I realized that was not fair to Carmen Miranda.

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  19. A little note about the Brewers. Their record is the same as ours – 3-4. We are 1/2 game back in our division. They are in the cellar, 3 games out of first. The NL Central is going to be one tough place to play.

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  20. Gattis is on his way back to Houston for tonight’s game. Is Matt Duffy the odd man off the 25-man? I just hope that Evan has miraculously learned how to play CF while he was on the DL. Preston Tucker is such an improvement over him at DH.

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    • Yes, Duffy has been optioned to Fresno. Also, I agree with you on Tucker. He should be the primary DH, especially against RHP. I’m fine with Gattis being the DH against LHP.

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  21. James Hoyt was the closer for Fresno tonight and struck out four batters in the ninth inning, when the leadoff guy swung at a wild pitch and made it to first. Fresno wins 2-0.
    CC was named second best minor league team by Baseball America yesterday. To celebrate, Alex Bregman hit a two run homer in the first inning and a walkoff solo shot in the bottom of the twelfth for a 5-4 win. That McCullers guy pitched the first three innings and gave up one run on a solo homer.
    Lancaster has not much power, but managed to score 10 runs on nine singles and one double. They actually pulled off a successful squeeze bunt in the first inning. You really don’t have a lot of power if you have to attempt a squeeze that early in the game.
    Quad Cities is 0-5 after last night’s loss. They are pretty bad.

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    • I don’t know where that 2-0 score came from. I believe it was 5-2, but I’m not looking it up again. It’s time to take Mrs 1oldpro for her checkup.

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  22. Hi folks,

    I’ve been stuck in a bit a of technology challenge these last few days. I think the Astros were 1 and 2 when I last got through. Anyway, I’m armed with a new user name to include Mickey Mantle’s number. Thanks Chip and Dan.

    Regarding Gattis, I sure hope he has to be patient and indeed, only gets opportunities that don’t take the bat out of Tucker and White’s hands. Let’s see if he can catch, give him some pinch hit at bats and give Tucker a day off against lefty pitching.

    I’m already scratching my head over what the plan will be if White and Tucker keep hitting and Reed is tearing it up in Fresno. It would be a good problem, but a problem nevertheless.

    Liked by 1 person

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