Astros riding out, weathering the storms


In real life as opposed to baseball faux life, a tropical storm named Cindy took aim at the low lying, flood prone big city of Houston and basically whiffed. Some winds, a bit of heavy rain, but no big Tropical Allison flood event. Houston has ridden out the storm.

Back over in the parallel world of baseball, the Astros have been facing their own threats. After starting the season with their third best starter Collin McHugh on the DL, the Astros rolled off to the best start in franchise history. And then the storm threats rose. Four of their five starting pitchers, Charlie Morton, Joe Musgrove, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers all ended up on the DL.

The Astros wobbled like a punch drunk boxer (or MMA champ) after that happened, but as LMJ returns to the rotation and Morton starts a rehab and the Astros finish a four-game sweep of the falling A’s, the Astros are doing a good job  of riding out their storm.

Keys?

#1. The Mike Fiers renaissance tops the list. Fiers was headed to the bullpen with a possible DFA in his future when the governor gave him a last minute reprieve. The Astros have won 5 of the last 6 games he has pitched in and the appearance before that he lost a 3-0 game where he gave up 1 run in 6 innings. He has moved from a long reliever to a MOR pitcher and has been critical to the team holding on to their great start.

#2. Brad Peacock‘s performance has also been critical to warding off the storm. The Astros have won 4 of his 6 starts since moving from the bullpen. Yes, he has had some games where he did not go that deep, but he had not thrown more than 2 innings in an appearance before being shoved into the rotation. He has had to stretch out in an on the job situation and has done well.

#3. David Paulino entered the season in the minors with one MLB spot start under his belt. Paulino has had one sub-par start in his five sub starts this season and won his last two starts as he has begun to hit his stride. The Astros now have a feel for the young man and the young man has a feel for what the majors are about.

#4. Top prospect 21-year-old Francis Martes has also helped with the “adults” on the DL. After looking pudgy and getting roughed up in a forced relief appearance in his major league debut, he looked like a bulldog in winning his first two starts. Again, a big boost for a team looking for some help.

So, some questions for our good readers (bad ones too).

  • How do you rate the guys who have helped stem the storm?
  • How close to getting past the storm is the  team?
  • What do you do with the 4 guys above as the other folks return? What order do they get replaced and who gets sent down and who gets sent to the pen?

 

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141 comments on “Astros riding out, weathering the storms

  1. The Astros have a young pitcher, Martes, facing Seattle for the first time.
    The Astros are facing a LH starting pitcher. They are 10-9 this season when facing a LH starter.
    The Astros have Feliz, Jankowski, Hoyt and Guduan with
    at least one day of rest available in their bullpen.
    They have a day off tomorrow and Peacock coming back Tuesday, a day when their starter is not announced.
    It seems like a day when they could afford to pitch all the young pitchers, but it is also a day when a win gets them 13.5 games ahead of Seattle in the standings.
    This would be a great day for the Astros RH hitting studs to make a statement against a LH pitcher.

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  2. Regarding bad umpiring, it’s known that the human eye has a max refresh rate around 60 hrz. It’s impossible to fully track a baseball moving at MLB velocity. The brain compensates by filling in the blanks. It is why some pitches appear to rise and others appear to have huge break, when in reality they don’t. NASA has spent money on experiments throwing balls in space where gravity doesn’t affect the flight path. It’s kind of funny to watch grown men unable to catch the ball (moving slowly) because their brain hadn’t adjusted.

    TL;DR: the umpires and batters get fooled on high pitches because their brains expect pitches to drop and then overestimate the flight path’s height.

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  3. Hinch said today that things are trending toward Keuchel returning after the AS break. My interpretation leads me to believe that he will not be available to be in the All-Star game.
    Marwin would be available today to pitch hit
    McHugh is progressing and may pitch in a minor league rehab assignment next week.
    Aoki is the only LH batter in the lineup today, despite Reddick being 2 for 2 this year against the guy we’re facing. Aoki LF, Jake CF, Springer RF. Beltran DH.
    It looks as though Hinch considers Sipp available today, the way I read the lineup. Harris, Gregerson and Giles are listed last in bullpen on the card.
    Hinch thinks LMJ deserves to be in the ASG. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

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  4. How can your top prospect come into a game that the Astros really need him to pitch well and save the bullpen and he cannot throw 1 curve out of 60+ pitches for a strike? Not even one breaking ball for a strike.
    No wonder Hinch was furious. Correa saved Martes from further disaster with an incredible relay throw.
    How does Houston win this game? A miracle.

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    • Sorry for this post. The bases were loaded with Mariners. Drive to the wall. Two runs score but Correa relay to Gattis was called out on a close play at the plate. Mariners challenged. NY reviews the call. Angel Hernandez is the crew chief. He takes off the headset and signals safe at home. Another ump comes running up and said he was out. The Mariners want to know what happened. A J wanted to know what happened. Angel just messed up the review by making the wrong call.

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  5. We all knew one of these two kid pitchers would blink, but I’m REALLY encouraged at what we are seeing with both of them. Martes just ran into a buzz saw today…..it will happen again, and we all know it. The big concern I have to date, is how much our bullpen has been abused. We saw it in 2015, and unless these pitchers can pitch through the 7th inning…..I’m afraid when we are playing in October, they are going to be done. Can’t let that happen…..just can’t.
    Yuli just hit a two run homerun!! 4-2!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mates learned from his short outing today. Hopefully he can take that and work on what he was doing wrong and correct it. I love homeruns, I think they are awesome…but hitting doubles and even a single when you have men on, needs to be the process these guys need to work on. For literally YEARS we have screamed at the television because the Astros left 8-10 men on base…..SITUATIONAL HITTING has been their Achilles heel FOREVER! I was in the kitchen starting dinner when Gattis was up….I said outloud, “we sure could use an insurance run”, and danged if he didn’t hit a homerun. BUT….we can’t always count on the homerun, hitting a single would score Correa. I’m not sure how you even teach that, but like Friday night, we see how successful a club can be when they hit with men on base. Ok…I’m done ranting except one more subject:
    The Houston Chronicle (yes I still get it) manages to put every other sports team on their front page EXCEPT the first place Astros😠 I intend to call the sports desk tomorrow, and let them know what I think of it…..THEN I’m going to cancel my subscription.

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    • Jankowski was sent down to make room for Peacock to come off paternity leave.
      Fiers to start Tuesday.
      Paulino on Wednesday and Peacock on Thursday.
      Becky, I ‘m a situational hitting kinda guy, but I was screaming for Gattis to hit a homer there and when he turned on that fastball I wanted to scream. Our RH hitting young studs showed up yesterday and we beat a LHed starter like we are supposed to.

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    • Our guys are still 5th in the league in BA with runners in scoring position and 3rd with guys in scoring position with two outs.

      If those number hold up on the season, we’ll be in great shape.

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  7. Save-less in Seattle!

    Good thing we didn’t need a save! Baseball has always had the 7th inning stretch; now with the Astros we also have the 9th inning stress.

    We are call to have to start calling our ninth inning guys ‘anxiety triggers’ instead of ‘closers’.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. About the replay call yesterday. When I saw the replay in real time I thought the guy was out because it looked like Gattis’s mitt got Haniger’s hand as he reached out to touch the plate and then slid in to Gattis’s mitt with his chest. Bang Bang play.
    Then they showed the replay from all different angles and never gave a clear shot of the mitt on the hand, so you couldn’t tell whether or not the mitt actually touched Haniger’s hand.
    If the ump said he called the guy out because Gattis tagged his hand on the way in, and the replays couldn’t see that action, then the play stands because there was not evidence to overturn his call.
    All the replay showed was that Haniger’s hand touched the plate before Gattis’s mitt touched his chest. I think the ump ruled that Gattis touched him before that and the replay couldn’t dispute it.

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    • If Gattis missed him we’ll call it even for the review last week where Altuve was out at home because the home plate ump assumed the catcher probably caught some jersey as he flew past. I try not to get too worked up about these. The guy in NYC doing the review has access to all camera angles and can choose which one to view. We only get the views the broadcast team chooses to show…and sometimes they get fixated one one or two and ignore others that might be more useful.

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  9. I believe that one of the goals for the Astros for this year is to get Peacock back in the bullpen for some effective appearances there getting him back in the relief mode for 1-3 innings. Having him in the bullpen heading toward the playoffs gets him back where he can throw his fastball at 95 MPH while not having to pace himself for 5-6 innings. I believe they want him there to cut down on Devenski’s usage so that they can make Devo more of a late innings guy for the playoffs and get him rest before October shows up.
    I think when Morton is ready to come back he will move in and Martes will go back to Fresno and be back up in September.
    When McHugh is ready is when they decide who goes down and who stays. They may stick Paulino in the bullpen and send someone else to Fresno.
    When Keuchel returns after the break they have to make the next decision and that’s when Peacock may go to the BP and Paulino goes back down, only to return in September.
    Will the Astros go after another starter? That’s when we find out what the long term means for Martes or Paulino.

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    • I’ve been thinking a lot about this in light of the sparse offerings available on the trade market. If everyone is healthy, you want Keuchel and LMJ starting playoff games. After that, it becomes questionable. Let’s assume Morton, Fiers, Musgrove, Paulino, Martes, and Peacock are all healthy. I don’t think you can pencil any of them in for more than 5 innings in a playoff start and have to believe there is a decent chance any would have an extremely short start. We might see an intentional tandem employed by Hinch for the 3rd starter’s spot.

      I think they go after another starter, but failing to find one they like start testing some of these arms in the bullpen.

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      • Definitely test Feliz, Peacock, Martes and Paulino …. which we have been doing. When you have powerful hitters or pitchers, does it really matter where they start, but how they finish.

        I mentioned last week that if a pitcher gives up a few runs, just pull him. Talk about a short fuse yesterday on Martes. But hey, no problem, we can still coach him up while he’s here, with video and bullpens, or talking to the other guys, letting him get more relaxed at the big league level. The cushion we have isn’t just in the standings.

        It’s the way we’re beating teams. Late, and with supreme confidence. Everybody has the ability to change the game on this team!

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      • Martes’s biggest problem is not his stuff or his attitude or his age. It’s his experience. He has only pitched in 76 minor league games in his career. Some as a starter, some as a reliever in the tandem, all of them with an innings or pitch limit. This guy does not have enough experience as a pitcher. He has pitched less than 400 innings in his career.
        He needs to face more batters and face them with the game on the line. That hardly ever happens in a tandem situation. When you start in a tandem you are gone after five innings or 75 pitches and when you relieve in a tandem, you’re mopping up for someone else.
        Martes has never seen this kind of pressure and that is the fault of the system he has been a part of.

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    • As far as the Astros are concerned, Feliz is a reliever. They would not have called up Paulino and Martes to start games if they were considering Feliz as a starter. I think you will see the Astros keep trying to use him more and more in the late innings as he grows as a pitcher over the next couple of years. The Astros want him in their bullpen for years, I believe.
      I think they see Reymin Guduan as a left handed version of Feliz by next season and I think they will have Framber Valdez in spring training next year to see if he’s ready to be in that bullpen also.

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  10. Charlie Morton is scheduled to start a 2nd rehab game for Fresno Tuesday night. That means Paulino will definitely get at least one more start – and I see he is slotted in for Wednesday night.

    Joe Musgrove’s first start for the Grizzlies is scheduled for Thursday. He will face the Albuquerque Isotopes, who have a team BA of .296 [2nd in the PCL] and a team OBP of .353 [4th in the PCL]. The Topes don’t take a lot of pitches, so it looks like Joe’s ability to miss bats will be tested real quick!

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    • I’ll be thinking good thoughts for him! I know how disappointed he was when Hinch told him he was going back to Fresno, but I have faith in the kid…..he WILL make it back up!!

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  11. I keep thinking they are playing tonight – used to them having Thursdays off – not Mondays.
    – I have this feeling that Gattis’ is going to go on a power run. He jumped all over that high fast ball yesterday. He doesn’t need to go on a power run, but that is just how he rolls.
    – Love, love, love McCann – when they need something – he is Mr. Clutch and he just looks like a typical take charge catcher (not the Kevin Costner, Tom Berenger pretty boys from the movies) – ok Costner was much more pretty boy than Berenger, but Costner was the better baseball player
    – Kind of thinking that Jake Marisnick has figured things out a bit – guys can get hot for a few weeks or a month, but a half a season signals a real change
    – Hinch has done some interesting things like figuring out how to squeeze an inning out of a Sipp/Gregerson platoon
    – I officially beg forgiveness for every Dave Hudgens complaint I have ever made
    – And Brent Strom keeping the rotation going – third best starting ERA in the league with 2 to 4 of them on the DL simultaneously

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  12. I’m gonna do something I RARELY do, and watch the arlington little league game tonight. I’m curious how well Hammels pitches tonight, since this is his first game back from DL. PLUS I want to see how well Carlos Carrasco pitches as well.
    I may have to wash my eyes with soap and water after its over!! LOL!
    *VOTE*!!! We need to send all three of our guys to the A S game!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. *WOW*!!! Carrasco has been touched up for 7 runs top of the 2nd! Things don’t really look good for either of these guys. Hammels had the bases loaded with no outs bottom of the 1st.
    OP…. yeah, I agree I’d take DeGrom in a New York minute!!

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  14. Having DeGrom would be fantastic but the asking price would be atrocious.
    If the Mets would even consider trading him.

    We have a big lead in the division but the Arlington strangers have picked up their pace. Can we afford to wobble around these next few weeks until the ASG?

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    • I would pay the price for him.
      Martes, Musgrove, K Tucker, Reed. We would have him for the rest of this year and three more. And they are his prime years 29, 30, 31,32.

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      • That would be an interesting pitcher to trade for. His ERA is up this season but most of that is tied to two bad 4 inning starts in a row where he gave up 7 runs and 8 runs – he has been nails since.

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  15. By the way, the Angels beat the Red Sox Sunday in Boston and defeated the Sox’s newest starting pitcher, Doug Fister. Welcome back to battling the badass AL West, Doug. See you the last week of the season!

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