Yes, it’s possible, but a stretch run isn’t likely


Okay, raise your hand if you thought Doug Fister and Mike Fiers would leave the Astros in wins in 2016.

Let me know if you predicted back in April Will Harris would have more save opportunities than Ken Giles.

Oh, and was it you that projected the Astros would lead the league in strikeouts this season? Oh wait, that probably was you!

Frankly, few of our predictions, wishes and projections — yes, yours, mine and others — have come true for Houston this season. It’s been a strange season to be sure.

Only Jose Altuve and perhaps George Springer have lived up to expectations.

But, still, with 35 games to go down the stretch, do the Astros have a chance to pull it out?  Well, let’s take a look.

As of this writing, here’s what we know. The Astros:

  • Are third in the AL West, 7 1/2 games behind division leader Texas.
  • Are seventh in the Wild Card race, meaning Houston would have to jump over five teams to get into the playoffs.
  • Need to finish 19-16 to go 85-77, certainly the outer threshhold for making the playoffs. To reach 90 wins — a more likely playoff target — Houston needs a 24-11 kick to the finish.
  • Have 19 home games, 16 road games remaining.
  • Play the Rangers and Mariners six times each in September.

Questions abound with the lineup and especially the rotation. The team has clearly underperformed this season. Injuries continue to throw curves to A.J. Hinch.

Making the playoffs may not require a miracle run or a Philadelphia 1964-like collapse, but the odds are against Houston at this point. It’s really too late to sell off, but it’s not too early to start to plan for the off-season.

Can they make that stretch run? Will they be a relevant player down the stretch? Basically, the answer is yes.  But it will require younger players to play beyond their years, veterans to step up to the plate above their season-to-date performances and some magic, luck and even a little wizadry.

So, with that background, here are your questions:

  • Yes or no? Will the Astros make the playoffs?
  • If the Astros make a successful stretch run, which player(s) not named Jose Altuve will make it happen?
  • What has been the biggest surprise — good or bad — about the 2016 season?
  • Now that Carlos Gomez is wearing another uniform, which player(s) have you seen enough of? In other words, which player(s) are you ready to jettison, either now or just after the season?
  • What is one thing that you predicted early on that has come to pass?
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120 comments on “Yes, it’s possible, but a stretch run isn’t likely

  1. Good job – Chip – timely and interesting post.
    Q&A
    ◾Yes or no? Will the Astros make the playoffs? No – I think they will win more than they lose, but they have too many teams to hurdle.

    ◾If the Astros make a successful stretch run, which player(s) not named Jose Altuve will make it happen? If they make a successful run – I think it will run through Mr. Inconsistency (Dallas Keuchel) and Mr. Clutch (Carlos Correa)

    ◾What has been the biggest surprise — good or bad — about the 2016 season?
    Good – It was Luis Valbuena until he got hurt. I think Doug Fister has surprised me the most on the plus side.
    Bad – Keuchel – I thought his wins would go down, but not due to a 4+ ERA all year.

    ◾Now that Carlos Gomez is wearing another uniform, which player(s) have you seen enough of? In other words, which player(s) are you ready to jettison, either now or just after the season?
    Colby Rasmus, Pat Neshek (at least at their current pay check)

    ◾What is one thing that you predicted early on that has come to pass?
    Not much – picking Altuve as an All-Star would be cheating. I picked the Astros to sign a 32 year old Cuban rookie for $45 million. (By the time the readers look back and check through scores of posts I will be long gone and another post will be up).

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  2. Yes or no? Will the Astros make the playoffs? No – but I’ll be happy as heck if we did!

    ◾If the Astros make a successful stretch run, which player(s) not named Jose Altuve will make it happen? Correa, Bregman, and Springer (who I think is miscast as leadoff…)

    ◾What has been the biggest surprise — good or bad — about the 2016 season?
    Good – Bregman. Had no idea he’d be ready this soon. Kid is gonna be a great one.
    Bad – Keuchel and McHugh

    ◾Now that Carlos Gomez is wearing another uniform, which player(s) have you seen enough of? In other words, which player(s) are you ready to jettison, either now or just after the season?
    Preston Tucker and Tony Sipp.

    ◾What is one thing that you predicted early on that has come to pass?

    That Tucker would be an AAAA player.

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  3. -Will they make the playoffs? No, They have to play the Rangers 6 more times. That is enough games against their nemesis to eliminate them from the wild card race.
    – Correa and Gattis would have to go nuts for it to happen
    – I think the biggest surprise for me has been the starting pitching and it’s failure to deliver wins.
    – I have seen enough of Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena and Jason Castro.
    – I predicted that Jason Castro of this year would be the same Jason Castro we had last year and I was right. That may have been all I got right.

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    • And Ramon Laureano worked right alongside him with 3 hits, including a double, and and RBI. Suddenly our minor league catching and outfield situation is showing signs of life. Both Stubbs and Laureano ended the game at .337. Laureano’s OBP is .445, and Stubbs’ is .421. Thumbs up!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Will we make the playoffs? Unfortunately, not this year.

    Who would have to catch fire to change that? Keuchel, McHugh, Musgrove, Fister and Fiers would have to have a collective ERA under 3.00 the rest of the way.

    Biggest Surprise of 2016? Good: Jose Altuve hitting .360 and above – with 20 HRs and over 80 RBIs by August. We all knew he was good – but THIS IS INSANE!
    Bad: the Rotation would regress so badly [new, tighter strike zone? ‘Up-in-the-zone’ itis?

    Player’s I’ve seen enough of: Rasmus, Valbuena (despite a ‘Chris Carter-esque streak for 1/3 of the year), Sipp, Singleton, Fontana, Chapman

    Thing I predicted: We would not be able to beat the Rangers because we are too weak in the middle of the order.

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  5. What has happened to Musgrove? I figured he would have a few bumps in his first season up, but these last two starts have been a shock to me. The kid just seems to have too much talent to have gotten pounced on the way he did. Was his control missing? Emotions? What’s going on with Musgrove?

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  6. Playoffs no they will tease us a bit then break our hearts.

    If they make a run need Bregman, TH, and Gurriel, need to have some huge at bats and SP has to be better..

    Good surprise that Altuve even got better, love that kid. Bad I Figured McCugh and DK would regress some, but not to the level of a #5.

    I have seen enough of Castro, Rasmus, Tucker, Sipp, , I am close on calling Tyler White and AAAA dude.

    I predicted 90 abd 72 and we win the West &^%^%(^)*

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    • Kevin, unfortunately you are probably right about PTuck being a AAAA guy – for our organization. But he has the potential – and the pedigree – to go all JD Martinez on us somewhere else. He just needs to be given a chance to play regularly, and there is no place for him to do that in Houston with his iffy defensive skills.

      Regarding Tyler White, however, I still have a high level of hope that Tyler can prove to be the real deal if he is given a chance to compete for 1B [or DH if Gurriel moves to 1B] next year. Tyler has had less than half as many MLB at bats [211] as PTuck has had. He showed immediate flashes of game-changing talent at the beginning of the year. Then the league adjusted, and we were playing so badly as a team he could not be given the chance to adjust in response. The bigger, long-term problem I see for the Shark is that if A.J. Reed hits [and we hope he does] he will probably be our 1B for a long time, and if Gurriel hits [and we hope he does] he will probably be our DH for a long time as well. That means TWhite needs to perform significantly better than Reed in ST next year, or he will probably never make it as an Astro. I do, however, look for him to make a big contribution somewhere [if not Houston, with our luck it will probably be Arlington].

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      • Bill, my hope is that White and Tucker both make it with the Astros as the DH. They really need to have some LH options in that lineup. That’s why Reed is so important.
        I think we will see Gurriel in LF next spring, if his legs are ok. That means an all RH hitting OF and three full time RH hitting infielders. They need Tucker to hit and they need Reed to hit, with all the other righties they are going to have in their lineup.
        If Gattis is their RH hitting catcher, they need a LH hitting catcher(who actually can hit).
        I don’t mind them being RH dominant at the plate, if all their RH hitters can actually hit. But they would certainly be better off if a couple of their LH batters came through.
        Has anyone ever seen Marisnick have a worse at-bat than the one he had yesterday?
        If Tucker can’t make it as a LH hitting DH, could Moran possibly step into that role.
        I still like Marwin as a super utility player next year, his third year of arb.
        If Tucker can’t make it for us as a LH hitting OF/DH that leaves a substitute role open perhaps on the club next year for Kemp, because he can play outfield and 2B and be a useful pinch runner. But it seems to me they need to keep their eyes open for a LH hitting out fielder with some pop who can field, run and throw better than Tucker and has more pop than Kemp.

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      • By the way, OP1, the best bet we have in the upper minors for the OF is Laureano (22 y/o) and he is also a RH batter. But at least Garrett Stubbs, now 23 years old, bats from the left side! I’m willing to endure one more year of Castro, just to get to Stubbs. Gattis is hot right now, but he’s been pretty pitiful most of the year – and for most of his career in Houston – as you have pointed out numerous times.

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      • Bill, I’m sorry, but I’m done with Castro. He is going to be a free agent, you can’t offer him a QO because you’d have to pay him $16 million when he takes it and you are still stuck with a Mendoza line hitter, who is a strikeout machine and whines to the umps when he does.
        Heineman isn’t the permanent answer, but he hit LH decently, doesn’t strike out as much as Castro, is decent defensively, inexpensive in comparison to Castro and moving him up for a year gives room to Stubbs in AAA.
        By the way, check out Castro’s percentage of throwing out basestealers this year, compared to last season. It is way down! That is something nobody, especially the Astros, are talking about. It’s 19% this season, 30 steals in 37 attempts. You could try to blame it on the pitchers, but Gattis is gunning them down, so that excuse doesn’t work.
        Seriously, why don’t we give a young catcher a chance to replace an older expensive catcher who is really slipping. At least until Stubbs is ready.

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      • Yes, I forgot Castro is going to be a FA. That changes everything, as there is no way we can justify extending him a qualifying offer. I just don’t want to rely upon Gattis as our regular backstop. If Heineman can block McHugh’s curve and Giles’ slider [let’s hope he pitches for us next year instead of being on the DL], can throw out base stealers at at least as good a rate as Castro, and slash at least .225/.300/.680, I say let he and Gattis split the catching duties next year, and let he and Stubbs have a shot at the position in 2018.

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      • At least another year of good production for Ramon, and most of that at AAA, would certainly be preferable. Between Kemp, Gurriel, Tucker, and Marisnick, we should be able to give him that year without going outside the organization and spending money or prospects we need for an SP overhaul. But looking at the stat sheet, as I read it Laureano’s K rate this year is just 24.4%. Springer’s is 22.4 % in this his third year. It was over 33% when he came up to the big club in 2014. Heck, Luis Valbuena’s strikeout percentage this year – one of the best years of his career – was 23.6 %. Hopefully next year Ramon can get his K rate down to 20% or lower, and really give us a fast, powerful, high OBP outfield.

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      • Bill, I don’t think we can count on Jake especially, and I’m not confident that Kemp will hit enough or Tucker can hit enough or play enough defense. I’m hopeful with Gurriel, but we might need him at first. So, I think we do need an outfielder from outside.

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      • Further to 1OP on Castro, guys who don’t step it up in a contract year are not the type of competitor you want on your team. He turns 30 next year and he has one good season to show for his career. Let him walk. I thought they should have traded him before the trade deadline.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Can our home-grown prospects make it in Houston? After you get past Springer, Correa, and Altuve, it gets more iffy.

    1. Preston Tucker. PTuck has 434 Major League at bats over 2 seasons. His overall slash line is an ugly .219/.274/.677. He has 27 DBLs and 17 HRs and has driven in 41 runs. Meanwhile, he has struck out 108 times [22.8% of plate appearances]. Worst of all, he is a defensive liability anywhere you put him – and has a pitiful .105/.105/.421 slash line against lefties.

    2. Alex Bregman. Bregman has about 1/4 of the MLB at bats of PTuck. He is slashing only slightly better at .231/.283/.694. But he is trending upward after an abysmal start. He has 9 DBLs, 4 HRS, and has driven in 14 runs. Meanwhile, he has struck out 30 times [23.8% of plate appearances]. As crazy bad as PTuck is offensively, Bregman is even more crazy good. We have every reason to hope he will just get better offensively – and own 3B for a long, long time.

    3. Tyler White. Tyler has about half of the MLB at bats of PTuck, and about twice those of Bregman. He is slashing .209/.281/.641. He has 11 DBLs, 7 HRs, and 23 RBIs. Meanwhile he has struck out 55 times [23.8% of plate appearances]. He is no defensive superstar, but he is certainly passable at 1B if he can slash .260/.325/.750 or better, and his minor league stats indicate it is very likely he can if he is given a chance to play regularly and adjust to the pitching at this level.

    4. A.J. Reed. A.J. just crossed the 100 AB threshold. He is struggling much worse than the guys discussed above, with a pitiful .178/.282/.579 slash line. He has 3 DBLs, 3 HRs, and 8 RBI. He has struck out 37 times [31.8% of plate appearances]. He is well-liked by the F.O., but he’s going to have to show a whole lot more than this to beat out T. White [or Gurriel] for the starting 1B job next year.

    5. Tony Kemp. Tony has just 76 major league at bats. He has been given less of a chance to play regularly than any of the other guys. Yet his slash line is among the best of the bunch, at .237/.314/.617. He has 1 DBL, 3 TRPLs, and 4 RBI in limited playing time. He has struck out 16 times [just 18.8% of plate appearances]. He has 2 SBs, with 1 CS.

    6. Te Oscar Hernandez. Te Dulce has just 38 at bats, so it is very, very early. But so far he has eclipsed all the others by slashing .263/.364/.916, hitting 2 DBLs, 3 HRs, and driving in 6 runs. He has only struck out 6 times [13.3 % of plate appearances]. Please keep it up, Teoscar!!!!

    So, let’s hear your take. Who among these guys makes it with the Astros? Who makes it elsewhere? And who is AAAA all the way?

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    • Mr. Bill,

      I believe that over the next decade, unless Luhnow goes stupid with trades, Altuve’ will continue to lead the team with batting average. Bregman will be the second in average with slightly higher power numbers. Correa will be next in Average, but will have huge power numbers. The missing link for the infield is 1st base and I think we all hold out hopes that A.J.Reed fills that Joe Adcock role that he so reminds me of.(Adcock went to LSU by the way)

      I am baffeled to where Gurriel fits anywhere except DH.

      I hope Springer can be signed here and not become a Boston Red Sox right fielder. If so, right field is covered for us.

      I’m hoping like everybody that Teoscar is not a tease, but the real deal. If so, then our big need for the starting nine is another outfielder (How soon can Kyle Tucker get here).

      So to me our shortcomings is with the starting pitching. We need a #1. I like Gattis in his role and like 1OP I’m ready to say goodbye to Castro.

      My two cents.

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      • Gurriel is a good athlete. Don’t write him off as a DH at 32. If Reed and White can’t hit enough the play first, Gurriel becomes a solid option. Bregman looks like our third baseman at this point. So if the 32 year old rookie wants a regular job on the field, left field might be an option too.

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    • I know a few of you don’t like Preston Tucker. I don’t see him as a AAAA player. He has a big problem with pitches up in the zone and needs to adjust. He hit lefties every year of his life until not getting the chance in 2015. I wouldn’t judge him based on the small sample we have. He didn’t get a chance to play regularly in Houston and likely gets traded for some 18 year old, Dominican pitcher that Luhnow’s guys like this December.

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      • Devin,

        That ‘small sample’ is more than a season’s worth . Unless he completely retools his swing, he’ll never be an effective hitter at the major league level. Right now, all I see is Marc Krauss with worse defense.

        I’ll take the 18 year old pitcher, please.

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      • I actually have higher hopes for PTuck than I do Tyler White. I think there’s a reason White was a 33rd round pick. I see him more of an AAAA player than Tucker.

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      • Billy, it’s one at bat here, one at bat there. No playing time is consistent and he’s constantly looking over his shoulder expecting to be pinch hit for. I don’t think we can reliably judge his future ability as the Astros have done nothing to promote his growth.

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    • I’m not a fan of how the Astros handle young players.

      I’m not convinced that Tucker’s slash line actually tells us who he is more than it tells me the Astros have no idea what to do with him. Same for Reed. Same for White.

      These players need regular playing time. It’s easy to dismiss their “slashes” as unsuccessful but if you just decide you aren’t going to try and diagnose what happened to each – and just blame their failures on them alone – you are doomed to continually repeat them. JDM, Villar, Grossman, and a few others have shown us what other franchises can do with our “AAAA” players.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Heck, I thought we’d win 97 games. It was all about rotation depth, led by our Cy Young. I figured he’s win 18, McHugh would match 2015 and Lance would be a force, and Fister, Feldman and Fiers would all provide solid support. Wrong.

    But I think some of us have been a bit hard on Carlos Correa. He’s got the most RBI’s of any shortstop in the game. 4th best OPS at the position. 5th in OBP. He’s still learning defensively, but he’s also only 21plus three months. Check out Altuve’s stats at that age. Or even his sophomore year stats.

    No playoffs. Too many teams to jump, with KC also back in the mix now. We’d need a rock solid rotation to make a run right at this point.

    There is not one guy that could get hot enough to make enough if a difference. Pretty much everyone would need to have their best month of the season. Altuve would only have to keep doing what he has been doing.

    Hands down, Keuchel as the biggest surprise. When was the last time a Cy Young winner regressed so much? But I might be equally disappointed in Jake. For a guy so athletically gifted, he just can’t hit. It remains the toughest job in sports. But damn, Jake has even gotten worse. Bregman’s got 14 RBI’s, Jake, 10. How can that be?

    If Fister and Castro and any others are not part of next years plans, I hope Luhnow is making every effort to get something for them this week. I fear not though, because I believe the Luhnow mindset is still focused on getting into the post season. And I suppose I can’t hold that against him.

    I didn’t predict anything correctly that is worthy of mention. I’ve had as collectively bad a season as the Astros have.

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    • Yesterday, the Astros had a runner on third with one out in the fourth and proceeded to do the following:
      Reed strikeout on three pitches
      Teoscar intentional walk
      McHugh strikeout on three pitches

      The next inning, they had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs thanks to a Springer single and Bregman double. They proceeded to do this:
      Altuve sac fly on first pitch, run scores to make it 4-1
      Correa sac fly on 1-0 pitch, run scores to make it 5-1

      That’s what I expected from Correa. When he came up last year he fought off tough pitches and would take an 0-2 fastball to right field for a single. This year, I think he’s been pressured too much to improve the power numbers.

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  9. I think Tucker has a chance to make it as a DH.
    I think White will struggle. and our plethora of RH hitters will hurt his chances of making the club.
    I think Teoscar could start in the OF next year.
    I think Bregman is our third baseman from here on out.
    I think Reed goes into the Spring as the starting first baseman. To quote the Astros from this past spring: The job is his to lose. Of course, they were talking about Singleton. I think this past offseason Reed worked on his conditioning and his wedding, if I’m not mistaken. This offseason I think he works on his conditioning and his swing.
    I think Tony Kemp has the ability to hit major league pitching and I think he might make the club next spring, if he isn’t traded.
    Since Gurriel is a rookie, I’ll include him. I think they will try him in LF next year and if he hits, he will stay there and alternate some at DH to rest him. I think he will play outfield as long as he can until Kyle Tucker or Lourdes Gurriel is ready. A failure to hit by Reed might move him to 1B, but I don’t think they really want him there.

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    • As I understand it – and that is ‘not much’ – Lourdes is a natural SS, but who can play all over the infield and has some experience in LF. He is also a RH batter. He apparently has a real good eye, as he so far tends to walk almost as much as he strikes out [but so did Tyler White in the minor leagues . . . .] Surely he would ‘like’ to play on the same team as his brother, but assuming he wants that more than the Yankees/Dodgers/Rangers’ money – what do you think we do with the flying Gurriel brothers act if we wind up with both of them? Can either of them PITCH????????? Or do they have a cousin who can???????????

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  10. I respect and love you all’s optimism, however I’m still skeptical on Reed, its early I know. I just don’t see it in White or Tucker, time will tell. I love Sammy Davis Kemp. I hope we can figure out what to do with him? For 2017 WE Need SP bad. If LMJ is out, I don’t see a #1 or #2 on this current team!

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  11. The one most irritating and discouraging thing to me about this season has been the way my nephew has been handled. I’m going to focus on minor league stats only for a minute.

    In 2014 White had 15 homers in 114 games.
    In 2015 White had 14 homers in 116 games.

    In both of these years, his OBP was well over .400 and his OPS well over .900. Between 2014 and 2015, he walked more than he struck out. His batting average was over .300.

    In 2016 White has 12 homers in 37 games.

    His OBP, at .335 is far lower that it ever has been as a minor leaguer. His batting average has never been lower. His OPS has dipped under .900 for the first time since low A ball in 2014. His BB/K ratio of 14/25 is easily the worst it has ever been. This is a guy who in his entire minor league career is 188/189.

    From the limited video of White that I’ve seen pre 2016, this was a very patient hitter with a very controlled swing, willing to take a base hit to the opposite field, especially with runners on. A guy with 242 RBI’s in 331 minor league games.

    Today, Tyler White is a much different hitter. He regularly swings at crap. And when he swings, he’s jumping out of his boots, trying to put most everything over the fence in left center. Someone has screwed him up. Someone has tried to turn a quality hitter into a power hitter.

    I really think we could have had a guy who would have hit for average and given us a solid OBP and an OPS over .800 in 2016.

    It’s a damn shame.

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    • I’ve been in Whites corner since the beginning of last year. I think Luhnow wants Reed at first base so bad he can taste it. Reed needs to lose abut 35 pounds and get with it if he’s ever gonna be that guy at first. If Luhnow is gonna give up on White then package him in a trade. He’s done all he’s gonna do in AAA ball.
      I’m with you daveb…..it’s a damn shame.

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  12. I think everyone knows I am not in favor of going outside the organization for an outfielder in 2017. But the currrent FO and I don’t see eye to eye on much, so I fully expect them to do exactly that – and to stand pat in the one area we really need help, which is TOR starting pitching.

    Which of the following FA outfielders, if any, do you think they will – or should – target?

    Carlos Beltran
    Ian Desmond [well, he’s an outfielder THIS year]
    Josh Reddick
    Jose Bautista
    Jon Jay
    Alejandro de Aza
    Rajai Davis
    Austin Jackson
    Crhis Coughlan
    Gregor Blanco
    Michael Saunders
    Ichiro???
    Peter Bourjos
    Sam Fuld
    Ryan Rayburn
    Carlos Gomez
    Colby Rasmus
    Other?

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    • Despite his recent claim I think Cespedes opts out and becomes a free agent. That is who I want the Astros to target, but I’m not sure if they will dip into those waters and compete with both NY teams as well as several other high spenders.

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    • There’s your lefty outfielder with pop alright; but his K rate this year is high, at 27.5 %. Can we absorb that – for what price over how many years i wonder?

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      • Now, Bill, you asked me.
        Saunders has 21 HRs this year. 9 to left field where the Crawford boxes give him a huge advantage, 11 to right and right center where MMP is not near as deep as the Rogers Center( which flares quickly outward to RCF). Saunders hits a ton of ground ball to the left side, but hits the ball in the air when he goes oppo to the left side. MMP would really encourage him to use his LF power and then he wouldn’t necessarily have to pull the ball to hit it out.
        As far as his Ks are concerned
        Subbing Bregman for Valbuena means less Ks.
        Subbing Teoscar for Gomez means less Ks.
        Subbing Heineman for Castro means less Ks
        Subbing Gurriel for Rasmus means less Ks.
        I think we could live with Saunders 27% K- rate if we get that .500+ SLG and .350 OBP that he’s carrying right now. How’s that 126 wRC+ look in that batting order?
        If Gurriel is a better fielder than Saunders, let Saunders DH most of the time and let Gurriel play LF.

        Springer RF
        Bregman 3B
        Altuve 2B
        Correa SS
        Saunders DH
        Gurriel LF
        Reed 1B
        Gattis/Heineman C
        Hernandez CF
        Bench: Kemp, Marwin,
        So, where’s Tucker? I replaced him with Saunders.

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      • Oops. I meant to say that Saunders hits a ton of grounders to the right side, his pull side. That’s why every team puts the shift on him. MMP may help him even more if he chooses to go oppo, which he is capable of doing.

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  13. It is unlikely the Astros make the playoffs this year. I would feel better if LMJ was healthy, but I really think he is done for this year. This upcoming homestand is critical if they have any hope of making the playoffs. They must go, at the very least, 4-2, but realistically 5-1 or 6-0 considering the daunting next string of games against Texas, Cleveland and the Cubs. I think it’s going to take 88-89 wins to get the 2nd WC spot, which means the Astros will have to go no worse than 22-13 over the last 35 games. That’s possible, but a difficult task considering the early September schedule. However, my son still has the lucky penny and I am still keeping the faith until there is no faith left to keep.

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  14. Evan Gattis’s batting stats as a catcher are dramatically higher when he is catching, than when he is DHing. It is the same for his career stats as it is for this season’s comparisons.
    This season Gattis’s K- rate as a catcher is 20% and his K-rate as a DH is 28.5% and the sample sizes are almost the same size.
    Fact of the matter is Gattis is so much more valuable when he is catching than when he is DHing it is astounding. His WAR this season is 1.6 right now versus .2 for the entirety of 2015(over 600 PAs) even though he has missed so much time due to his surgery this season.
    If you get a full year of what we have gotten for only for 36 games this year of Gattis behind the plate, Gattis will be an All-Star catcher. He has 14 HRs and 30 RBIs and only 29 Ks in those 36 games. He has thrown out 50% of the baserunners attempting to steal vs 19% for Castro.
    Fact of the matter is that Evan Gattis has been a monster as a catcher this year.
    We have a catcher.

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    • I agree that Gattis is a better hitter when he catches (stats don’t lie). His defense seems to be improving and he has a pretty good arm. He’s actually a fairly nimble guy for his size as well. I’m still not sure he can be an everyday catcher. Didn’t he have some knee (or was it back??) problems when catching for the Braves.I have no problem bringing him back as a backup catcher and occasional DH.

      As to your earlier comment about Stubbs’ 4 for 4 game. Stubbs is really turning it on since being promoted. Slashing .337/.421/.551 with a .972 OPS in your first 100 at bats at a higher level is impressive. HIs 54 total bases in only 26 games is mind boggling.

      I don’t think Stubbs will ever make it with the Astro. He walks more than he strikes out (only 9K in 26 games) and we just can’t have that on this team! It doesn’t fit the statistical model we have chosen. Hudgens will need to get ahold of him quickly and teach him to swing so hard that his head comes off of the ball and he screws himself into the ground; preferably with his helmet flying off ending up on his butt.

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      • I get your sarcasm. I’m hoping Stubbs continues to perform at the AA level and leads CC into the playoffs, where they ride their first half success and try to compete with a lot less talent than they started off with. Stubbs might start at AA, but if the Astros let Castro go, Heineman could be on the big league squad next spring, after two seasons in AAA and Stubbs could move up and perhaps be a factor on the 2018 team.
        I’m hoping the Astros see the light with Hudgens this offseason and move on, especially when I see them with the OBP/power/speed team I pictured them with above.

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  15. Gomez just hit a 3 run homerun……you don’t wanna hear the string of cuss words I just yelled! By the way…..Beltran is his new baby sitter.
    Little sh*t.

    Like

  16. Good read on Astros rotation options going forward. While I like the Chris Sale scenario I think I would just as soon have Jose Quintana if the White Sox were in the dealing mood. He gives you 1 more year of team control and similar stats.

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      • Not really a great read. First the author suggests we will “easily” have the best 1-2 punch in the AL. That’s hard to do if Keuchel doesn’t bounce back and McCullers isn’t healthy – two very iffy propositions. Best in the AL, how about not even best in the division. Not even second best in the division. Seattle and Texas both have MUCH better 1-2 punches.

        The rotation that he cites is not one that is likely to contend next year unless Sale or Archer are acquired. I see that as a pipe dream. Two young, talented pitchers with multiple years of team control are not acquired without giving up the best prospects in your system. I’m not convinced we can even get it done with what we have. We have very little offensive talent left in the minors that would attract ace type pitchers. He talks about a rotation that includes Sale, Keuchel and McCullers along with some combination of Devenski, Feliz, and Musgrove, but you won’t have those all three, if any of three, left after a trade for Sale. Matter of fact, the White Sox are going to start the conversation with McCullers and Feliz and Devenski and Musgrove.

        When you look at the FA market the way it is right now and you look at what we have in team control, I suspect you see Keuchel/McCullers/McHugh/Fiers and Devenski/Feliz/Musgrove to fight out the 5th spot. I think all 3 see time next year in the rotation though because no team gets so lucky as to have 5 starters make 32/33 starts each.

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  17. We will get to see the Rays pitchers again this weekend, and I think we can give them another look to see if any of us would trade a BIG package of prospects for any of them.
    No I don’t think we will smell the playoffs…started off really bad, and trying to play catch up is no longer an option.
    Biggest surprise…the total collapse of Keuchel…AND McHugh, and McCullers arm.
    Seen enough of Rasmus, Sipp
    He sure started pretty bad, but Bregman has turned out to be an EXCELLENT 3rd baseman.
    Reed CAN be that guy at 1st base, but he really needs to shed the weight, and get his body in shape if he’s gonna succeed. Quite frankly, I’m growing G tired of giving Marwin first base nearly every game. We need a 1st baseman to show up at 1st base everyday. PERIOD. Marwin is great off the bench, and does quite well as a fill in, but the time has come for Reed, or White to plop down at 1st base, write his name on it and stay there!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Vewill1….I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with your post yesterday.
    I had no idea you had been around baseball at nearly all levels, and especially pitchers! There are soo many on this blog that I value their baseball savy, and I learn something new almost daily, you are in that group!

    Like

    • Becky, I learn something from this group almost every day! I love this game and I love to interact with baseball lovers. My kids are junkies too! We spend 2-3 weeks every year in Florida at Spring training and over the years I have gotten to know most of the Astros (past and present), some of them on a personal level. The players always take the time to single out my kids on the back fields and throw with them or talk baseball. We became really close friends with Carlos Corporan. We were with he and his wife when they lost their 16 month old baby. I don’t care about what he did on the field, but through this game I met one of the finest individuals that God has ever chosen to put on this earth. We still consider them among our dearest friends. Baseball does that to people like no other sport. It is one reason it is so dear to me.

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  19. OP…..we are still thinking about you and your sweet wife, and praying she is getting better everyday. You are a gem, and I don’t know what she would do without you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Becky. She has been much more alert as I learn what her pain tolerance is and space her meds to accommodate her when I know she will be hurting. She is walking a lot now, and I feel so comfortable when I see her reading her mystery novels daily, which means she is back to her old self again.
      I think she is healing wonderfully and, more importantly, she is starting to agree with me about that. Tonight we will watch the Astros together.
      We pray together every night and always lift you up in prayer by name. It’s what we do. As we age, our prayer list gets long because we add to it, but never subtract from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Inspired by vewill’s article link above I wanted to throw my two cents worth into the mix on the Astros’ pitching plans.
    Fister- If Fister pitches the rest of the year like he has this season, I would not be surprised if the Astro give him a QO. This OTBG sees he has the lowest ERA on the starting staff this season. But I also see he has accumulated WAR of 1.9 so far this season and, if he adds to it, his value based on WAR is right at $15million. Other teams will look at him and see this as a bouceback guy and may offer him a deal, netting the Astros a draft pick. Either way, Fister will provide value to the Astros if they offer him a QO. I love his rapport with his teammates.
    LMJ- I think if he needed TJ surgery he would have had it by now. I expect him to be healthy.
    McHugh- First year of arbitration. If they get Fister back, I would not be surprised to see McHugh in a trade.
    Fiers- A candidate for the #5 spot and for a trade if the Astros keep McHugh and retain Fister.
    Feliz- His arm is being wasted. I don’t know why, but I know they have to do something with him. I don’t see them using him the same way they have this season.
    Musgrove- I think they plan for him to be in the rotation next year.
    Keuchel- A great bounceback candidate as he has shown flashes. I think they settle for a decent arbitration raise with him and he is still considered a TOR guy and they see how he pitches in the first three months.
    Devenski- I think they try him out as a starter in the spring.
    Rodgers- I think they bring him to spring training to see where he fits on next year’s team.
    Harris, Giles, Gregerson, Sipp- Locks for the bullpen.
    Neshek-If they think Hoyt is ready, they may buy out Neshek’s option. Look at Neshek’s numbers. Left handed batters have been absolutely murdering him, so he has gone from a late inning guy to strictly a ROOGY. I don’t think you pay a ROOGY $6.5 million if you have a cheap buyout option.
    These are just guesses. Medical issues determine so much, it’s impossible to guess right on everything.

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  21. Not that I want to agree with Steven, just that I do. Have been saying for awhile now, serious question marks about pitching, without which nada. How anybody could rank us that high, don’t know. Hope I’m wrong. Want the Astros to go to the World Cheerios.

    Like

    • I don’t want to agree with Steven either, heck, I bet Steven doesn’t want to agree with what he said. But the facts are the facts and unless we upgrade the SP World Cheerios is a dream.

      Like

  22. If we win tonight – and then win again the next day – and the next . . . pretty soon it will all start to look better. If we lose one, two or three of the next three games, however, start looking for lucky dimes, quarters, and silver dollars. We’ll need them all.

    Like

  23. Oops!!!….one of the other team in texas, relievers, got pulled over and got a DWI.
    The thing is, he’s probably one of their only reliable guys out of the bullpen!
    Can’t cure stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hate people who drive drunk…lost people due to drunk drivers so this makes me mad.

      According to Blig League Stew, he also urinated on himself.

      Idiot.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. right here right now is a good time to make a move. bal vs nyy, kc vs bos. thats four of the teams we are fighting with for the wild card. two of them have to lose. if we win tonite, thats a big deal. same for the following 2- 3 nites. we aint dead yet folks. dig in and give it all you got we are still in it.

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  25. Just how good has Devo been this year. SI has him ranked #2 on its AL ROY list. Following is from the article

    2. Chris Devenski, RHP, Astros

    Season Stats: 2–4, 2.36 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 4.05 K/BB, 168 ERA+, 87 2/3 IP

    Last Two Weeks: 4 G, 1 GS, 2–0, 1.46 ERA, 12 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 HR

    The Astros needed a spot-starter for their doubleheader against the Twins on Aug. 11, so they turned to Devenski, who has been outstanding as a long man out of the bullpen this year. All Devenski did was stretch 71 pitches over five scoreless innings, allowing just three base runners, one of them on an error. Since returning to the ‘pen, he has allowed just three hits and two walks in 7 1/3 innings, picking up another win with a four-inning outing on Aug. 19.

    Devenski had one awful start against the Red Sox back on May 15, but in his other four starts this season he has posted a 1.99 ERA. In his 30 relief appearances, which have averaged more than two innings in length, he has posted a 1.71 ERA. He has now consumed 87 2/3 innings on the season, and it’s difficult to imagine the Astros still being in the wild-card hunt without him.

    The full article can be found here:
    http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/08/25/awards-watch-mvp-cy-young-rookie-of-the-year-mike-trout-danny-duffy

    Like

  26. Interesting read on 2010 draft.

    http://www.astrosfuture.com/2016/08/houston-astros-2010-draft-now/

    They call them prospects for a reason……you just never know. The 2010 draft for the Astros was interesting because they had 3 1st round picks. When I look through the list of the 1st 10 rounds I don’t think the draft was too bad. Delino, Folty and VV are all in the bigs. Nor was it too good. I really thought Wates, Doran and Heath would be solid major leaguers. I still like Grills but he better make a move quickly because age is no longer on his side.

    What do you guys/ gals think? Good or bad? Or more mediocrity that was systemic to that period?

    Like

    • I was pretty disappointed by that draft. I thought DeShields was a typical, wasted pick on a name that would never develop. I wanted Harvey, but he was taken one spot above our pick. Regardless, they drafted a lot of low upside guys who didn’t pan out. People say winning in milb doesn’t matter, but that’s because they are dumb. When your affiliates are winning, the hitters may get more at bats due to more players on base rather than making outs. Your pitchers protect the lead more often and the defense learns how to cover situations. Your hitters don’t encounter as much pitch to contact by teams willing to trade hits for outs because they have a big lead. Drafting bad players stunts everyone’s growth.

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  27. Fiers looked really good tonight. Pulling your starter with a lead and 1 out in the 7th (when your starter was only at 84 pitches) should always come back to haunt you! If I were Fiers I would be pissed!!! There is no defense for that move and it bit Hinch in the a$$.

    Like

  28. “Only Jose Altuve and perhaps George Springer have lived up to expectations”. Chip, there is no guy in MLB that I’d rather have as my shortstop than Carlos Correa. And Gattis has turned into a bargain.

    Like

    • I’m going to eat some crow and relent that Tim’s guy, Luhnow, won that Gattis trade…but only because they let him play catcher like many of us (me) suggested was necessary. He probably should have caught that first wild pitch, but the HR made up for it.

      Like

      • Stassi has major league experience (and hit better in brief MLB time compared to AAA) and better defense, which would be needed unless Gattis keeps his defense up. If he bombs, though, then Heineman should get the shot. Neither have really hit AAA pitching that well, so I’d go for the guy with better defense and some major league experience.

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      • Stassi is terrible. You can’t simply dismiss his atrocious minor league numbers over 49 lucky major league at bats where he still has a +30% K rate in.

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      • Using baseball-reference.com it appears Heineman is the better defensive catcher. He has a better CS%, better fielding % and better RF/9. These are career minor league stats for both. Stassi appears to have more power, but Heineman has a higher minor league OPS.

        Like

    • Stassi had a 30 game stretch in 2013 in AA Corpus Christi where he hit 14 home runs and way over .300. It’s been three years since that happened, and he hasn’t done anything since then.
      His major league stats are a mirage. He has a BABIP of .467 in his ABs in the major leagues.
      He has been real bad in AAA. His AAA BA is below Jon Singleton’s, and that is saying something.
      If the Astros lose Castro and keep Gattis for next year, Gattis will be the power hitting RH batting catcher. It would behoove them to have an OBP-type left handed hitting catcher as a backup and as a LH hitting bench player. Heineman fits that bill.
      We do not know how the Astros feel about their minor league catchers. We only find out how the Astros feel about them when they are traded or released. So we will have to wait and see what happens this offseason.
      One thing I will predict is that Stubbs will go from never being ranked, to being a Top 15 Astros Prospect when this season ends. Maybe a top 10.

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  29. That win was so sweet. Giles threw one too many fastballs tonight. Fiers threw 3 too many wild pitches.
    our 5,6,7 spots were 3 for 10 tonight with 2 RBi’s.
    Gattis is within one home run of tying the club record of 16 home runs by a catcher in a season and he’s done it in 37 games. Castro had 18 one year but two of them came as a DH. Correa is one of the best clutch hitters I have ever seen and he’s only 21.

    Like

    • Gomez never really put up any stats until 2012. 2012 was a pretty good year for Carlos. 2013 and 2014 were very good years. 2015 began his quick slide. At this point, I wonder if his brief success was artificial. Hard to come up with another explanation.

      Like

      • I’ve wondered about that too Dave. He was “good” long enough for it not to have been a fluke, but I don’t really recall such a rapid decline at a relatively young age, barring injury. And he did such stupid things on the field, it’s almost like he forgot how to play baseball. BUT, there’s still time and opportunity for him to hurt us…

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  30. I have watched the Gattis walk-off home run over ten times. I have the following observations:

    1. Evan Gattis is officially ‘on fire’.
    2. The pitch Evan hit was a very obvious ‘ball four’. If he had been any of the kids I coached, I would have drilled into his head that you ‘never swing at that pitch – NEVER!’.
    3. The odds of anybody hitting that pitch at all, much less hitting it out of the park, are less than miniscule.
    4. When a player is on fire, the odds just don’t matter.
    5. Ken Giles should have one monster of a man-crush on both Gattis and Correa right about now.
    6. The Rays’ pitcher needs to call Brad Lidge and have coffee, to let him know he now knows exactly how sick to his stomach Brad felt when Albert Pujols hit his famous rocket in game 5 of the 2005 NLCS.
    7. For one more night at least, the Astros thin playoff hopes are still alive and kicking.
    8. Hello – Rangers’ clubhouse? How y’all doin’? I would like for you to meet your new owner – Mr. Corey Kluber.

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      • Next time out on the back of Giles’ jersey, above his number, instead of his last name, it needs to read: “My Shortstop and Catcher Hit Better Than Your Shortstop and Catcher!”

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      • Bill, you are so right. The pitches that Correa and Gattis hit would be pitches that the Tampa Bay pitcher would throw again because hardly anyone is going to hit those pitches. Those were two incredible home runs. I guarantee you that Giles would never want to throw the pitch he threw again.
        Which is why I didn’t care for the explanation from Cash, their manager. He said that his guy hit a clutch home run off a good pitcher. Then he said that they gave it right back to us. I thought it happened exactly the opposite. Giles gave it up and our guys literally stole it back on two pitches that were in great spots, but they hit them anyway.

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    • Dead nuts on. That high riding 94 MPH fastball is a sucker pitch. No one catches up to it. Gattis is seeing the ball really well and his strike speed is through the roof right now. I really like this Gattis, as opposed to the non- catching non- hitting model we saw earlier this year. If we could get this out of him consistently the $5.2M option for 2017 would be a no brainer.

      Like

  31. The Yankees are bombing the Orioles again this afternoon. This puts the Yankees back in the playoff picture. I don’t think 3 teams from the A.L. East make the playoffs as they will beat up on each other in September. I’m more worried about K.C. than I am anyone else in the WC race. The Astros just have to keep finding ways to win series, including a few sweeps along the way. They have little room for error going forward and why last night was such a big win.

    Like

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