All Things Astros and a whole lot more
Our blogging friend Mr. Bill was pondering the reasons behind the fall-off of the Astros’ pitching in 2016. Let’s recount the failures and discuss:
Now was this bad luck? Bad coaching by Brent Strom? Too many innings pitched in 2015? Too few innings pitched in 2016 spring training? Pitchers hiding injuries? Smaller strike zones? Pitching up in the zone? Too many pitchers (not named McCullers or Giles) throwing 89 mph fastballs?
To be fair, Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Will Harris were mostly their normal effective selves. Chris Devenski was a revelation. Scott Feldman prior to his trade did a great job shifting from the rotation to long relief. Michael Feliz and Joseph Musgrove both had ups and downs, but enough ups to record 12 wins between them in only 125 innings combined.
The most likely story is that there was a combination of things going on here. McCullers increased his innings by a large amount in 2015 (which at his young age made him a prime candidate for an injury according to the Verducci effect).
Keuchel had an increase in innings and had some really big pitch counts late in the season leading to the crushing he took in his relief effort against the Royals. And of course he admitted he hid an injury for most of the season.
McHugh was lucky to win 19 in 2015 and was a bit less lucky in 2016. Fister was coming off an injury filled season where he did not throw that many innings and seemed to run out of gas in August in 2016.
Fiers looked like someone who would be less effective with more exposure to the AL. Sipp had a down year like he has done previously. Giles seemed to struggle with not being the closer and did better (with some meltdowns) after becoming the closer.
The philosophy of pitching fastballs up if true from Strom, seemed to be not near as effective at 89 mph as it was at 92 or 93 mph.
So what do you think?