Random questions at the beginning of the 2018 marathon


YIE (Yes It’s Early) but the Astros reaction to the 2017 World Series championship is about as far from a hangover as possible. A solid 6-1 record has been achieved with top of the heap offense and starting pitching. Not all of the Astros are hitting or pitching at the top but there are so many weapons within A.J. Hinch’s reach that the Astros have been winning as though there has been no off-season.

Today, will be random questions day, because it would be silly to write too positively or negatively after such a small sample.

Random Question #1. Are the Astros reshaping the idea of a closer?

The Astros have won six of their seven games this season. They have zero saves. Ken Giles, who is the designated closer has not had an opportunity to save a game, because he has been used in a couple of games where no save was possible. The one potential save situation, the series finale 3-2 win over the Orioles went away as Hinch kept Brad Peacock in the game for a third shutout inning rather than doing the knee jerk move of bringing in Giles for the ninth. The Astros applied this multi-inning use of bullpen assets to end games in both their ALCS win over the Yankees and the WS win over the Dodgers. Are they going to take this idea to an extreme as they can get multi-innings out of Peacock, Chris Devenski and Collin McHugh from this season’s bullpen?

Random Question #2. Can Dallas Keuchel rebound from this horrendous start?

This is a bit tongue in cheek. Keuchel has given up too many hits and too many walks, but has done a decent job as far as runs go. He has given up 4 ER and 1 HR in 11.0 IP, while St. Justin Verlander has given up 3 ER and 2 HR in 11.2 IP. I don’t think our perception of the situation, especially early, matches the reality of the situation. If the Astros end the season with their “worst” starting pitcher sporting a 3.21 ERA it will be a pretty terrific season.

Random Question #3. Does Carlos Correa surpass Jose Altuve this season?

The thought here is that if Correa wants to take over the mantle of best Astro he will have to “come and get it” as Altuve does not appear to be ready to go quietly into that good night. As good friend of the blog, old pro, pointed out yesterday Correa is off to a great start .474 BA/.522 OBP/1.469 OPS with 2 HR and 8 RBIs in only 19 ABs. Mr. Altuve has had a strong start with .414 BA/.419 OBP /.902 OPS, but with only 3 RBIs. There is no doubt that a healthy Carlos Correa hitting his prime at only 23 could have a transcendent season, if he can stay healthy. This will be a fun competition to follow in 2018.

Random Question #4. Will anyone make the Astros an offer they can’t refuse for Collin McHugh?

It is doubtful that the Astros will do anything with Mr. McHugh until around the trade deadline as they find out how the pitching staff’s health holds. But if McHugh never finds a comfort zone in the bullpen and the starters stay healthy, could the front office resist a solid offer of prospects for this $5 million insurance policy?

Random Question #5. Is Max Stassi angling to be the starting catcher for 2019?

The team has an option to bring Brian McCann (who will be 35 years old) back at $15 million for one year. If McCann is solid and Stassi is solid this season what do they do in 2018? Would they forego the option but try to sign McCann for a couple of seasons as a backup for less?

Random Question #6. Which minor leaguer(s), if any, will come up and help the team in 2018?

To varying degrees the Astros received some positive boosts from Derek Fisher, Tyler White and Francis Martes in 2017. Fisher, of course, scored the winning run of game 5 of the World series, White put up a .279 BA/.328 OBP/.853 OPS slash in 22 games and Martes though struggling out of the bullpen was solid in 4 starts when the Astros rotation was in shambles (2-0, 4.08 ERA). Do White and Martes return for encores? Rogelio Armenteros? David Paulino? Kyle Tucker? Or someone else who assists out of necessity?

Random Question #7. Has A.J. Hinch missed his window for being Manager of the Year?

Manager of the year winners are normally managers who win more games than expected from perceived inferior talent or who lead a team to great improvement over the previous season. Everybody knows the Astros are loaded. Everybody knows the Astros have returned last year’s WS champs with improvements. It is just not likely that they will award an excellent year with this type of talent staring them in the face. It is not fair, but if you ask Hinch he won’t give a flip if he is riding in another parade at the end of the 2018 season.

Where do you land on these questions of not too great import? Do you have random questions of your own?

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133 comments on “Random questions at the beginning of the 2018 marathon

  1. I have posted this on Twitter so if you follow me this is a repeat comment.

    I think this Padres series is a prime example of why the Astros are widely considered the best team in baseball. Their offense, for the most part, was putrid this weekend, yet they still won the series. The Astros pitching is so dang good that, even when they are in an offensive funk, they will still find ways to win games/series. Their pitching should keep them from any lengthy losing streak (5+ games), barring a massive run of injuries, and they have so much depth it is ridiculous.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. -If you have to play in Minnesota, the best way to prepare is to play the coldest game in Astros home history the day before.
    -The Astros ERA is the best in baseball, Their BA is right in the middle of the pack, their batters are #2 in striking out, and they are one of the worst fielding teams. In summary, they have been lucky and have played an easy schedule.
    -Max Stassi picks up his teammates.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The coldest day in Astros history with the roof open……it was soooo cold!
      Glad I took a heavy jacket with me and glad my son-in- law was along to go fetch lots of hot chocolate.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really concerned about the potential for injury with it being in the 30’s tonight. Very susceptible to muscle pulls – standing around freezing and then suddenly sprinting. I wonder how much extra “warmup” a pitcher needs in these circumstances. Well they should be allowed to go to their mouth to warm their hands. So if any of them have perfected a spitter……

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    • Put a barrel in the far end of the dugout, near Julia Morales. Then get Evan Gattis to break Fisher’s, Davis’s, Bregman’s, Marisnick’s and Gonzalez’s bats over his leg, get Gerrit Cole to throw them in the barrel and get Peacock and Morton to set them on fire. Gather the team around the fire and show them last year’s video’s from the series in Minnesota. Then let Verlander/Upton lead them out on the field and keep feeding leftover Beltran bats into the fire to keep it stoked.
      That’s the way you do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Having spent a small part of my life in Milwaukee and Chicago other things come to mind.
    – First anything that involves contact hurts. Just making contact with a baseball with a bat will sting the hands. Running into the wall or the dugout or another player will hurt.
    – The ball will be slick – like JV said it will feel like a cue ball – tough to get a feel for it
    – And there is also the concern about guys getting sick. The cold itself may not do it, but standing out in that sure can knock down your resistance. And cover those ears if you can – I had so many ear aches just from being exposed to cold windy air.

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    • A lot of Cowboy fans think they would have easily beat the Packers in the Ice Bowl – but they looked like a miserable team from the south that day.

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      • yeah dan it seems most of the time a cold weather team as an advantage in cold weather over teams not used to it. that game is a good example

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  5. And now we see exactly what ‘Never Settle’ means to this group. The combined record of the teams we have played thus far is 10 wins and 21 losses. Now, for the first time this year, we face a team with a winning record. Here is how the team stat rankings compare:

    BA- Astros .251 [8th in MLB]; Twins .243 [12th in MLB];
    OBP – Astros .331 [11th in MLB]; Twins .311 [17th in MLB];
    HRs – Twins, 12 [8th in MLB]; Astros 10 [12th in MLB];
    offensive Ks – Twins = 66 [6th least]; Astros 96th [2nd most];
    runs – Twins = decimal points below 5/game; Astros 4.7/per game
    runs allowed – Astros = 2.5/game [2nd best]; Twins 2.7/game [3rd best];
    Team ERA – Astros = 2.00 [best in league]; Twins 3.57 [12th in league];
    Team WHIP – Astros = 1.12 [4th best]; Twins 1.25 [12th best];
    SOs – Astros = 10.6/game [2nd best]; Twins 8.8 [24th best].

    Let the games begin!

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    • Was going to make one correction – Minnesota allows 3.7 runs per game not 2.7 and it is 4th best
      Minnesota is a better test. I will say that the teams we played might have a better looking record if they did not play us, like the Orioles who beat the “awesome” Yanks in a three game series after we swept them.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Fresno has an afternoon game today against the Reno Aces. The Grizzlies just went up 4-1 in the top of the 4th, and are still threatening. It is still early, however, and the scores out on the high plains seem to always wind up climbing in double digits.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There are plenty of guys ice cold right now, but JD Davis really needs his California weather back. He’s lost in the cold. What a shame. Next time we need a right handed bat, he won’t get the call.

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  8. It’s coming Dan. Sure was distressing watching Bregman give Lynn an out with Altuve up and Correa on deck. I get it though. Everyone is trying too hard to make something happen.

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    • Yeah especially with Correa hitting a double though it would have been nice if Altuve had walked but balls were called strikes

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  9. Castro gets a double and Dozier dinks a perfect slider for an infield single. Verlander pulls up his big boy pants and puts out two Ks and a pop up – still 1-0 Astros heading to the 7th

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well tonight a tad warmer as the game should start around 41 F, easing down to around 36 F. Tomorrow is a get away day game that should be absolutely balmy in the high 40’s.
    One thing – the ball does not carry too well in the cold – except for when Buxton almost tied the game up in the 9th against Giles.
    That would have been an uncomfortable discussion after the game with Hinch. “Why did you take Devenski out when he was all warmed up, had not thrown that many pitches and had pitched pretty well?”
    The cold weather robbed Marwin of an opposite field dinger – he really ripped it and it only made it to the wall on the double that scored Correa for the 2nd run last night.

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    • He’s got to try and get Giles into those situations. Sure would be nice to see him miss a bat every now and then. He’s got no slider at this point. The fast ball is not jumping. I think it’s going to be a bit painful watching our closer get sorted out.

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  11. We’re 9 and 2 and half the line up has not hit yet. The starters can’t keep pitching as well as they have, but once everything settles, we’re going to be pretty good.

    11 games, Peacock, Devenski and Harris all with 5 appearances.

    Marisnick 0/13, Fisher 1/12, Davis 1/9. Problem is, we don’t know if Davis or Fisher will get much better. Jake will hit more, but he’s always been a strike out machine.

    Is Yuli more valuable than I thought?

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    • Yuli is indeed that good. And what is more important is that he is the perfect #5 hitter, protecting Correa from the ‘pitch around him’ game that the Padres and Twins have used against him. Neither Marwin nor Evan Gattis have the capability to do what Yuli does with any consistency at all, and this has got our offense running on fumes. Reddick being sick didn’t help last night. Can’t wait til Yuli gets back!

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  12. I still think Davis and Fisher will eventually start to hit. It may take awhile – and be ugly in the interim – though. I remember the problems the last J.D. we had experienced when he first came up. He has done okay for himself since we gave up on him.

    Marisnick? I am sorry, but the only reason Jake should ever get in a game this year is as a pinch-runner for McCann or Davis, or as a late inning defensive replacement.

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