Astros’ day off: Good news/bad news

As the Astros return home to warmer climes and a weekend meeting with the struggling Texas Rangers, let’s play a little Good News / Bad News without hometown heroes.

Bad News. If the 3 game series against the Twins was a precursor to the Astros playing some cold weather games against cold weather teams in the playoffs (Red Sox, Yanks, Indians or those same Twins), the Astros audition did not go well.

Good News. Even in October it is rarely near freezing for games up north, plus the Astros almost won the last game and they were using their two weakest starters in Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel.

Bad News. About those starters….Keuchel has looked more like 2016 Keuchel than 2015 or 2017 Keuchel so far and McCullers blew sky-high in an eight-run meltdown against the Twins on Wednesday.

Good News. The other three starters, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Justin Verlander have a combined 0.81 ERA after 7 starts. Oh and if DK or LMJ come up short or are injured, Collin McHugh has looked very good coming out of the bullpen.

Bad News. The Astros lost their first series of the season to the Twins….the sky is falling.

Good News. The Astros are 9-4 after 13 games. That is on a 112 win pace, which cannot be complained about anywhere.

Bad News. The Astros’ offense has been struggling – putting up only 12 runs in a recent 6 game span.

Good News. The Astros get back one critical low strikeout bat in Yuli Gurriel Friday. They also got one bat back Wednesday as Alex Bregman, whose bat was MIA, had 4 hits. And Bregman hitting can help George Springer get a few better balls to hit ahead of him.

Bad News. The Astros had the least amount of strikeouts in the AL last season and have the second most this season. After leading the majors in most categories, they are 4th in the AL in runs scored and BA, 7th in OPS, and 9th in HRs.

Good News. There should be a lot of trending towards the norm here. Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve will not continue to have 0 HRs. Brian McCann is on a pace for 13 RBIs – I hope he beats that.  Marwin Gonzalez, Derek Fisher, George Springer and Jake Marisnick all have batting averages south of the Mendoza line (below .200). Well…..Marwin and George should correct their numbers.

Bad News. Ken Giles and Joe Smith both have ERAs over 4.00…..

Good News. Fellow bullpen buddies, Hector Rondon, Brad Peacock, Will Harris, Chris Devenski, James Hoyt and Collin McHugh all sport ERAs below 1.60 all the way down to 0.00

So, for you – what good or bad news are you clinging to?


83 comments on “Astros’ day off: Good news/bad news

  1. Let’s face it, it’s mostly good news.

    I’ll get the things I’m pissed about out of the way first:

    1. Keuchel the other night giving up (not bending over to pick up a roller ) on a play he normally makes. I don’t care about the cold. If he’s not 100%, then don’t be so damn selfish. Go on the DL and help your team. If he is 100%, then help yourself and pounce on that ball. Make a 100% effort. It looked to me like Cy Young was feeling sorry for himself out there.

    2. Lance. It’s too late for him to lose his composure. He’s already played in the World Series and executed flawlessly. In comparison to the first two games of the series, yesterday was a balmy day. Again, I don’t buy the cold weather excuse. Be a professional. Start absorbing something from the 35 year old guy who threw 7 shutout innings on the coldest night of the series.

    Both of these guys have Hinch or the early course of over using Peacock. Their poor performances are impacting others and not just in the won-loss department.

    3. Alex, you are one of the smartest ballplayers on the squad. Stop getting thrown out on the bases when you’ve got the MVP and maybe the next MVP coming up.

    4. George, go see a shrink, drink camomile tea, whatever, but just slow things down and start hitting something like the World Series MVP again.

    5. Derek, not many guys get a shot at winning a full time job on an intact World Series roster. You might still have that shot, because we’d really like to have your left handed bat in the mix. But you’ve really got to get your(I forget the name of that OP poo poo) together, both at the plate and in left field. Heck, a lot of us could run fast when we were your age, but that’s certainly not enough to keep a job in your line of work.

    6. Giles, get out there and throw some chin music. Break off that breaking ball. Throw 100. Snarl. Own the inning you want so bad.

    Liked by 4 people

    • daveb – I’m not much for head hunting, but the art of throwing a little inside around the upper chest / lower throat area….that can make it tough for them to lean over and get your slider. But your overall point is for Giles to be a bit ugly. Maybe he needs a beard and needs to meditate looking at CF and slam the ball in his glove and turn around and stare down that hitter.

      Watching JV pitch is a bit of a revelation. I saw it in the playoffs all the time. He gets squeezed on a pitch ignore it and make a better, faster pitch. Give up a HR to the first batter in your first mlb relief appearance in your career? Turn around and stop the bleeding and give your team a chance to come back. They should all be watching him and emulating him. He is a consummate professional and sometimes our guys are not quite that…

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t have a problem when guys underperform during a small sample size – baseball is a very streaky game and folks will have a few weeks of bad hitting or bad pitching along the way.
    I do have a problem with being weak on the mental side of the game. Whether it is Keuchel (a former gold glover) not giving his all on a fielding play or McCullers melting down to the point where he can’t pitch well – that is a big problem in my mind that those guys need to straighten out themselves. Again….watch a few JV starts and you see someone who is not reacting to ump calls or lucky hits or a bad pitch. He just focuses more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Guys better right the ship because the Angels and Mariners are looking to torpedo us. Remember the line at the end of Patton, “A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.” OK now get off your laurels and start playing winning baseball.


  3. Just noticed that J D Davis is listed on the Fresno roster. That’s a shame since he seems to have found his stroke in Minnesota and Fisher is still stinking up the place. I guess the silver lining for Davis is that he will be playing every day. I also wonder if Fisher will be able to improve with only sporadic appearances. Seems like a luxury to keep him as a pinch runner. I suppose its not a real big deal either way and I’m sure glad to have Yuli back. Now if only his low K rate will rub off on the rest of the guys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As long as Fisher is on the 25 man, I hope they keep playing him against righties. We have the luxury of giving him more time to get his dookie together.


  4. geez louise. did anybody listen to the walk up music for each player? its an article on the chron. i tell you what i must be getting old.


    • In my Louisiana home for a wedding, this weekend. I’ve been under the weather lately, but…I’ve been reading everyone’s post so I’m pretty caught up. Even Cole is human, couldn’t go on forever without someone hitting a homerun off you! Did you see Hamel’s reaction to that 2nd homerun Springer hit?!! He needs to get traded, he’s clearly not having fun with the arlington little league!!


  5. So old people walk up songs for batters, walk in songs for pitchers:
    – Altuve – “Short People” by Randy Newman – I know, just lazy and mean choice…maybe “Better Man” by Pearl Jam
    – Springer – “Wedding Bell Blues” by 5th Dimension – since he’s slumping as a married man
    – Verlander – “Walk Like a Man” – Frankie Valle and the 4 Seasons – what he shows with every start
    – McCullers – “The Man I’ll Never Be” – Boston – worried about that maturity level
    – Cole – “New Horizons” – Moody Blues – Houston looking a lot better than Pittsburgh
    – Giles – “The End” – The Doors – just cause he’s trying to close
    – Marisnick – “Summer Breeze” – Seals and Croft – if he doesn’t slow down that K rate as the weather warms up
    – Keuchel – “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye – we’d like to know…

    OK – y’all take over


  6. Ok, so the good news:

    1. We got off to a hot start. Even while not are not hitting
    and pitching on all cylinders, we’re still winning most of our baseball games.

    2. Gerrit Cole. Do we have the 2015 version back, the Cy Young candidate? At the very least, the guy is willing to take advice and change his game plan. It’s working so far.

    3. How can one say enough about Jason Verlander. He’s our leader.

    4. George will hit. Marwin will hit. Bregman is starting to hit. Reddick is hitting. Altuve will raise his OPS. Correa won’t GDP so often. Yes, our catchers will hit less, but everyone else not mentioned will hit more than they have.

    5. Salty Morton is my favorite old guy.

    6. If the new guys get comfortable, our pen is going to be significantly better. I’m hopeful.

    7. Yuli is back! I think I’ve under estimated not just what he brings to the line up, but also to the personality of the team.


      • Yup. He’s a battler. Giles doesn’t have the mental make up to be closer.

        Over/under on Stassi being at least a platoon catcher before the end of the season?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t see Devo as the closer. He has basically 2 pitches. A slider would be nice. That’s not taking anything away from him but I like him as a set up man and getting lefty’s out. Not a good offensive showing tonight but enough. Cole was super save for two mistakes and he paid for them. Still a great performance.


  7. It’s not a wonder the Astros are chasing the Angels. The Angels have been the better baseball team for the last two weeks. They manhandled Texas and we look like dookie out there. Can’t hit, play lousy defense and do stupid things on the bases almost every game.
    All the talk about being focused was just talk.
    It’s embarrassing! Our starting pitchers are going to get real tired of this crap.


    • Our secret guy!

      1OP, the Angels are hot and mostly healthy right now. But they will regress . If George is George again and Yuli is Yuli, last night was encouraging.

      I do wonder what’s going on wiith Giles though.. Do we have a closer controversay?


      • Obviously Giles has issues. He really hasn’t been our closer since the blowup in the WS. Not sure what the issue is with him but until he gets his act together Hinch will go with whomever he feels will get the job done. His fastball has almost no movement and he can’t throw his slider for strikes.


  8. The Angels have been beating up on bad teams [except the Indians who are 8-6 so far. They hace a tougher stretch of scheduling coming up. After two more games with the Royals [3-9], they move on to the Red Sox [11-2], the Giants [6-7], the Astros [10-4], and the Yankees [7-7] If the Halos are still looking better than us when April’s over, we will know we have a war on our hands.


  9. Gentleman, I’m still not convinced the Angels are a very good team. I’ll stay with my pre season prediction for now. We have not hit yet and will. It’s still way too early to confirm a team trend.


  10. There were plenty of goats and heroes in last night’s late Fresno win, but Kyle Tucker singled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th for the walkoff.


    • I know everyone including the front office wants to wait awhile on Tucker.
      But he sure would be an improvement over Fisher.
      I know he’s never played at this level but sometimes a great player come along and you can just feel it. Like with Correa.


  11. The Angels are on a pace for 130 wins this season.
    If they win 130 games we will not catch them.
    If they win 130 games I will write my last blog of the season naked except for a Halo cap on my head. You’ll have to trust me.

    Sandy – I sure would have liked to see KTuck taking those swings in place of JFSF last night or Fisher most nights. We will have to be patient – but sometimes it is tough. If things don’t improve – maybe June?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’m hoping Fisher gets a good chance…..until June anyway. By then we’ll know better whether Tucker is ready to go.

      Regarding Jake, he can’t keep being so bad can he?


      • Dave, Jake’s career year in 2017 involved his highest career BA(.243), backed by his highest career BABIP(.320). It also included a 35% K-rate. It also included his first ever negative defensive rating.
        The Jake we are seeing is the same Jake, just older.


      • Yeah OP, I really hope we might get the same offensive performance out of Jake this year, but there is really nothing to back that up.

        And as you and I have long contended, our most reliable centerfielder is not always playing centerfield.


      • The defense is troubling. He’s become Chris Carter with speed.

        Maybe send him to AAA as he has tons of options left. I’ve never see why that’s never happened previously. If his defense has slipped then we have to move on as we have a championship to defend


  12. Something that bothers me about Jake playing against lefties and Reddick sitting is that Reddick hits lefties better than Jake. I do like his defense but we’re pretty solid with Springer in center and Reddick in right and whoever plays left whether its Marwin or Fisher. The horrible swings Jake takes on balls WAY out of the strike zone confirms that he just has crazy bad pitch recognition. He might hit a mistake now and then but a competent pitcher doesn’t even have to throw him strikes. He needs to be a late inning defensive replacement and Reddick needs to play every day along with the rest of the A team until our offense starts clicking. So far Jake and Fisher have been millstones around our necks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’d much rather see Reddick in there against a lefty with two outs and guys on the bases than Jake. He’ll make it tougher on the pitcher. I understand that Hinch has a 10 and 4 club and he badly wants all 12 bats to be of some real value, so he’s giving everyone a shot. But I don’t think Jake needs to have more at bats than Reddick at this point either. 16 K’s and no walks? A couple of years ago I used to scream that there was no room on the roster for a guy as inept with the bat as Jake. I might start again.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. OOPS……wash that one outta your mouth fellas, they gotta face Verlander tomorrow! Every now and again, our bullpen shows they are human.
    Although his pitch count got high today Morton was AWESOME!
    I absolutely LOVE Cajun weddings! Becky⚾

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m just not sure about the way Hinch is using the Bullpen. Overusing some and not using others mystifies me. It seems like Peacock, Devo, and Harris are out there every 3rd day. At this rate they’ll be burned out before the AS break. I by no means am an expert but we get a guy out there to get one out and then put in someone else who was there the day before.
    And our situational hitting leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully, it will get better. The Angels are playing super baseball right now so we need to keep pace.


  15. FWIW here’s the doctor’s diagnosis so far; a general power outage. The MLB stat page is messing up so some of this is just my recall working and at my age memory can play tricks but here goes.
    1. Springer: Has not hit a home run off anyone not named Hamels and as nice as the oppo power is none of the homers have been absolute no-doubters. How about a shot or three over the train tracks?
    2.Bregman: Coming alive a bit and the walks are nice but getting himself out on too many balls well off the plate. I sometimes think he is channeling Jonathan Vilar in the field and on the bases by making the spectacular plays, botching some easy ones and being a bonehead on the bases.
    3. Altuve: Typically solid BA and OBP but zero homers and only two doubles. solid on defense and the bases but we need Jose to drive the ball or get switched to lead off. (Of course we know that’s not happening.
    4. Correa: Fair BA, lousy OBP, good RBI low power production. One of his homers was an inside the park job on a fluke ricochet off the wall and the other was a wall scraper to the opposite field. Playing well in the field. When your #3 and 4 hitters have hit a combined ONE HR out of the park in 15 games something is seriously wrong.
    5.Reddick: Leading the team in HR with 3 but has not driven in a run any other way. Always solid defensively.
    6. Gonzalez: Currently regressing offensively but doing nice job in the field.
    7.Gattis: Pretty much a non-factor so far. No HR and a 38% K rate
    8. Marisnick: Despite his 2 HR he still mimics a human windmill. His pitch selection is horrible and his K rate is over 44% with zero BB. No amount of defensive prowess should earn him a start. Late inning defensive replacement only please.
    9.Fisher: A great base runner as long as someone else gets on base for him. A Marisnick like 46% K rate. One doesn’t need to be fast to walk back to the dugout.
    10. McCann: Off to a good start at the plate and behind it.
    11. Stassi: See McCann above except for the 39% K rate.
    12. Guriel: Too soon to tell but so far in two games Yuli has hit a louder HR than Springer, Correa or Altuve. An 11% K rate is so Yuli.
    1.Verlander: Not quite superman but solid efforts every time out and the performance in Minnesota was death to all the excuse makers. Great FB command and a real competitor in the strike zone.
    2. Keuchel: Warning bells going off for me with Dallas. His pitch per inning numbers are way up as are his BB rates. When I hear folks say that “he won’t give in to hitters” as if that’s something laudable I almost gag. Not giving in to hitters is code for he’s not good enough anymore to compete in the strike zone. Way too dependent on getting a plate ump with an expansive strike zone.
    3. McCullers: For a stat driven organization McCullers proves that the occasional flash of brilliance can make all logic disappear. His ERA in his last 11 regular season starts approaches 8! He has zero fastball command and so is effective only when and if the curve is working. Yes his curve is almost unhittable and yes he threw over 20 in a row to close out the ALCS but if a hitter is lauded for getting a hit 3 out of 10 ABs the same standard is hardly appropriate for a pitcher. Because he can’t command the FB he relies more and more on the curve which makes him less effective with the FB. It’s a vicious circle. Some time in Fresno with instructions to throw 80% FB until he can wean off his addiction to his curve would be a good message to deliver.
    4. Cole: Now here is superman. I love his FB command. This guy personifies competing in the strike zone.
    5.Morton: Should be our number three after Verlander and Cole. Charlie has not pitched on the road yet so I’m not completely euphoric but his first three starts have been crazy good.
    6. Peacock: Still a favorite of mine despite the recent spate of HRs allowed. BUT I think there is a danger of him getting too enamored of his slider. I heard the announcers say his slider usage has surpassed his FB use. A high FB to Gallo yesterday instead of the low slider would have finished him. Please don’t succumb to the siren song of the slider.
    7.Devenski: Another guy making me nervous despite decent results. Last year he broke out of the gate with a deadly combination of high fastballs and low change ups. As the year wore on I was seeing more high changes and low FBs. I think his control is always going to be spotty because of his delivery. Looks to me like he’s falling off toward first more that last year.
    8. McHugh: Deserves better treatment both for his past performance and his current start. Doesn’t have the sexy curve of McCullers or the dominant FB of Verlander, Cole or Morton but a guy who competes and doesn’t offer excuses. He could take McCullers’ spot and that would suit me just fine.
    9. Harris: Still solid but slipping. His K rate seems to be slipping and bit as is his WHIP.
    10: Rondon: The more I see the more I like. Great K rate, WHIP and zero walks. More please.
    11. Smith: Meh so far. His track record keeps me hopeful for better.
    12.Hoyt/Sipp: Mop up duty only please
    13. Giles: Maddening. Another guy with a good FB that he can’t command that forces him to rely on his slider too much which he also has a tendency to hang in the worst situations. I just don’t think he has the confidence to be relied upon. I know its merely perception but Giles looks like he is trying not to fail instead of getting in there and dominating.

    I think a whole lot of this is World Series hangover. Fortunately we are so good that we’re winning despite sputtering. The schedule has been kind too but we can’t afford losses to truly bad teams like the Rangers and Padres. Looking for a good outing from JV tonight and hoping Yuli rubs off some more on the offense.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. So far Colon is one pitch better than JV as we trail 1-0 heading into the bottom of the 4th. Hopefully the second time thru the lineup will be a different story….

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jake actually had a couple of good at bats. Took the count full both times. Got a couple of obvious calls against him. Marwin too. But our squad should not be specializing in taking 1-1 games into the tenth.


    • Yeah the ump was very good tonight but Jake was cheated out of a walk in the most critical bat of the night.
      But you can’t get nohit by an octogenarian for most of the game.
      Lots of bad at bats – nobody hitting the other way on Colon.


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