The Astros’ rotation: A reason they can go deep into the playoffs

In 2016, the Astros’ starting pitching had a 4.06 ERA which was fifth in the AL and 1.29 WHIP which was sixth in the AL. Their starters were pretty good over the whole year, but not good enough especially with the late season Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers problems.

In 2017 the starting pitching through Saturday was almost the same as 2016 with a 4.17 ERA for fifth in the AL and a 1.27 WHIP which is tied for fourth in the league. Yet this is definitely a time when overall stats do not tell the whole story.

Part of the story is addition by subtraction. In the playoffs, Mike Fiers and his 5.22 ERA, who has started the most games (28) for this team in 2017 will not be starting any games and may not be in the bullpen. Joe Musgrove who had a horrible 6.12 ERA in his 15 starts has morphed into a super setup man after his move to the bullpen. David Paulino who suffered a pharmaceutical malfunction had a nasty 6.52 ERA in six starts this season. Those folks will not be driving the starting rotation’s ERA upward.

And there is addition by addition times two. Justin Verlander came over to the Astros on August 31st and has been a beast since then with four dominant wins. But beyond that he has made the rest of the rotation better.

  • From August 31 to September 23, a period when the Astros were 16-6, the starting pitchers (not named Fiers) have been 12-3 with a 2.31 ERA.
  • In those 20 appearances the non-Fiers starters have given up one or fewer runs 11 times and two or fewer runs 17 times. That is just impressive. Even in the massacre in Oakland where the pitching gave up 41 runs in four games, the starters were only responsible for 11 earned runs.
  • Verlander has looked like someone who smells a chance at a WS ring as he has been 4-0 with a microscopic 0.64 ERA and 0.571 WHIP and a nasty 10.3 K/9 IP to go with a great 1.6 BB/9 IP.

And of course there is addition by addition in getting healthy Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh back and possibly All-Star Lance McCullers. Oh and the third guy in the rotation should be Brad Peacock who has been brilliant in a season he almost started as a DFA. His 12-2 record and 2.98 ERA has been the kind of performance out of nowhere that a championship team often trips upon. And there is Charlie Morton who was solid this season except for one injury time out and has been very good in the second half of the season with a 7-4 record and 3.48 ERA after the All-Star break.

Bottom line: Whether the Astros hit the postseason with or without McCullers in their rotation, they have an ace and four or five kings to choose from….


138 comments on “The Astros’ rotation: A reason they can go deep into the playoffs

    • The Angel’s just didn’t have the pitching to hang in the playoffs. They have a lot to work on in the off season, as do a whole lot of other teams. Thank goodness we aren’t one of them! Wasn’t that the most delicious sweep this whole season?!!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Just a note, we are disappointed in Beltran sitting at .230, but last year Castro, Jake, Rasmus, Gomez, White, Reed, and Tucker were lower. (I know, only Rasmus was making his kind of money, but Carlos is part of the improvement)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Waking up to blog after those three wins is like opening a fresh bag of Cheetos. You feel blessed and can’t wait to get started on it.
    The Astros won the season series 12-7 and are 22 games ahead of the Rangers in the AL West. The Rangers had 17 comments on their Lone Star Ball game thread yesterday. Seventeen for the entire game! That’s one comment each from every one of their fans at their game yesterday.
    Tony Sipp called the catcher out to talk to him after Middlebrooks double yesterday. They had a real discussion out there in front of the mound and before the first pitch Sipp whirled and fired to the bag where Correa had exploded to before Middlebrooks knew what was happening. The Astros network did not get a good look at the play and didn’t show it on replay.
    I think Verlander is enjoying his new team.
    Tony Kemp finds rhythm if he is getting at bats, and can get hits in bunches when he gets comfortable.
    The Astros bullpen goes into Boston rested.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Did you see Middlebrooks reaction after getting picked off? He appeared annoyed that Sipp would try a pickoff with a 10-run lead and 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. I found that more enjoyable than the pickoff itself.

      Liked by 3 people

      • And that is the exact reason the play worked.
        I noticed how far Jose Altuve was standing away from the plate the other day when he got hit on the wrist. he was way back on the dugout side and he still got hit. Pitchers have been throwing Altuve low and away for months and all of a sudden someone is throwing him up and in, in a game that is already lopsided? After that stunt I think the Astros have every right to have fun with the Rangers. Altuve was real lucky.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tim, did you see the Rangers’ pitcher throw his arm up in the air to help his fielders see Springer’s popup clear the Rangers’ bullpen in CF?

        Liked by 3 people

      • I think that helped fool Kallas on the call – because he acted like it was a can of corn to CF and all of a sudden he realized that it was not only high but oh so far. Heck of a blast.


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