Astros 2018: In praise of starting pitching

Under the header “Obvious Take” the 2018 Astros starting pitching is pretty good. Or damn good. Or unbelievably good…..

Today let’s take a look at these guys individually and show how absolutely excellent they have been.

Justin Verlander

Well let’s see…. he is leading the AL for “qualifying” pitchers with a 1.05 ERA, 68.2 Innings pitched, 0.714 WHIP and 4.6 hits / 9 IP. The dog is only 6th with 11 K/9 IP.

  • “Worst” start – Orioles where he gave up 3 ER in 5.2 innings.
  • Best start – You pick
    • Last one against Angels – 9 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, 7 Ks, 1 walk
    • Rangers – 8 IP, 1 hit, 1 ER, 11K, 1 walk
    • Yanks – 8 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 14 Ks, 0 walks
  • If you average his 10 starts – he throws 6.82 IP, gives up 3.5 hits, 0.8 ERs and 1.4 BBs and strikes out 8.4 hitters per start
  • He has given up 0 ER in 5 of his 10 starts, and 1 ER in 3 others
  • He is mystifying hitters, but the real mystery is how he can only have 5 wins

Gerrit Cole

Due to Verlander, Justin – he is the best #2 SP in baseball. He is second in the AL with a 1.75 ERA, 0.795 WHIP and 5.1 hits/ 9 IP. He is first with an astounding 13.6 K/9 IP and is fifth in innings pitched with 61.2 IP

  • “Worst” start – Last one against the Angels giving up 3 ER in 5 IP
  • Best start – His unbelievable start against the D’Backs – 9 IP, 1 hit, 0 ER, 16 Ks and 1 walk
  • Witnessing an average of his 9 starts you would see – 6.84 IP, allowing 3.9 hits, 1.33 ERs and 1.55 BBs, while striking out 10.33 hitters per start
  • He has allowed 0 ER in 3 starts and 1 ER in 2 starts and his 4 wins like JV’s 5 wins shows how hollow a stat, wins can be
  • The mystery here is other teams have to be wondering how this guy could be #4 in the rotation coming out of Spring training

Charlie Morton

The 5-0 Morton has been the third best pitcher on a staff where that means something. He is in the Top 10 in the AL in 4 categories – 2.03 ERA (3rd), 0.966 WHIP (9th), 11.5 K/9 IP (4th) and 5.5 hits/9 IP (3rd).

  • “Worst” start – Against the Angels – 4 ER in 4 IPs
  • Best start – again – you pick
    • Rangers – 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 14 Ks, 0 BB
    • Yanks – 7.2 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 10 Ks, 2 BBs
    • M’s –        7 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 8 Ks, 0 BBs
  • In an average start, he goes 6.1 IP, gives up 3.75 hits, 1.38 runs and 2.125 BBs, while striking out 7.75 hitters
  • He was good last year, clutch in the playoffs and the best 3rd banana in any rotation this season

Dallas Keuchel

After some struggles early, Dallas has been on an upward swing this month. He is in the top 20 in 3 categories – 3.10 ERA (12th), 1.103 WHIP (17th) and 58 IPs (11th)…..remember he is the 4th or 5th guy in this rotation.

  • Worst start – easy pick as he gave up 6 ER in 7 IP to the A’s (but at least he saved the bullpen a long night).
  • Best start – Your pick of his last two starts
    • Against Oakland – 8 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER
    • Against Texas – 7 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER
  • An average start for Dallas is a solid 6.44 IPs, 5.44 hits, 2.22 ER (though it would be 1.75 without his worst start), 5 Ks and 1.67 BBs
  • He is a bit dwarfed by the other 4 bigger arms in the rotation, but he gives this team a lot.  He goes more than 6 innings most of the time and he gives the other team a totally different look as a softer-tossing lefty between hard-throwing righties.

Lance McCullers

Lance’s numbers lag his 4 buddies by a bit. His 3.63 ERA and his 1.231 WHIP are 24th in the AL. His 10 K/9 IP is 12th and his 7.4 hits / 9 IP are 20th…..but…….if you could just remove the brain freeze of giving up 8 runs on 3 walks and 5 hits in 2/3 of an inning against the Twins – here is what he would look like. In the other 51.1 IPs – His ERA is 2.28 (would be 4th in AL), his WHIP would be 1.09 (17th) and 6.66 hits/9 IPs would be 9th. I know you can’t undo an inning like that, but it means that 98% of the time he has been the fourth Astro who could be considered a top 10 pitcher in the AL.

  • Worst Start – No doubt that 3.2 IP / 8 ER start against the Twins.
  • Best Start – Your choice
    • Against the M’s – 7 IP, 1 hit, 1 ER, 11 K, 1 BB
    • Against the A’s – 7 IP, 2 hits, 0 ERs, 7 Ks, 0 BBs
  • An average start for LMJ is 5.78 IPs, 4.78 hits, 2.33 ERs, 6.44 Ks and 2.33 BBs. Those numbers without his lost weekend of a bad start would be 6.05 IPs, 4.5 hits and 1.63 ER per start.
  • He has been sneakily one of the best pitchers in the league on a staff where that relegates him to the 4th or 5th best pitcher in the rotation.

Dear readers – anything you want to add to the discussion on this unrivalled starting five?


115 comments on “Astros 2018: In praise of starting pitching

  1. Six Astros had two hits tonight.
    What made it feel like 2017 was the 4 doubles.
    Organizational sweep tonight as all the affiliates won.
    Two runs allowed lowers the team ERA.


  2. Funny to see that even though J.D. Davis did not get a hit, he had three times more walks than Jake had all season, in one game, leading to 3 runs scored. Stassi continued the catcher’s solid season, Gattis continues to warm up and Kemp knocked in runs with hits and with putting it in play – what a concept!


  3. Every team in the major leagues has a #1 pitcher on their staff. That is the guy they consider their best pitcher.
    But when you look at the stats, the Astros have four starting pitchers who rank in the top 25 of baseball in WAR. So the Astros have four starters who could be considered aces on their staff right now and one starter who is ranked in the top 50 in WAR, Dallas Keuchel. Right now the Astros have four guys pitching like #1s and a guy who is pitching like a #2.
    Cleveland has three pitchers in the top 30 of accumulated WAR.


  4. Minor league update:
    Fresno Grizzlies(28-18) have a 5 game lead in their division.
    Corpus Christi Hooks(26-19) trail San Antonio by 2 games but are solidly in second place by 5 games over Midland.
    Buies Creek Astros(25-19) are in second place, 1/2 game out of first and two games up on the third place team in their division, which is currently the dominant division in the Carolina League.
    Quad Cities River Bandits(24-20) are tied for first place in their division as far as games behind with two other teams. They have a lower win percentage because they have played two more games than either Clinton or Peoria and have an extra loss.


  5. The Astros were near the top of the list a month ago when it came to their batters striking out.
    Right now, the Astros are #17 on the list of teams who strike out the most.
    Slowly but surely, the Astros are starting to work out their offensive problems.

    Liked by 3 people

    • In 5 games at Fresno, Jake has been on a tear (for him) with 5 runs scored, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs and a .286 BA/ .348 OBP/ 1.014 OPS and only 3 Ks in 21 ABs. If only we could get the rest of the majors to bring up their AAA pitchers Jake would be in great shape…..

      Liked by 3 people

    • That’s a bit discouraging because it seemed to me that the club sans Jake was a different club. Better vibe all around. Now I’m sure those guys love Jake, but bottom line is that want to play with good ballplayers.


    • The solution is to let Jake sit on the bench until it’s the 9th inning and we’re protecting a lead. It’s not rocket science.


    • Well Kevin, as much as we like Kemp and Davis right now, neither is a guy we want in the outfield late with a 1 run lead. So I guess with Reddick down, we need a glove out there.

      But I wonder what happens with Jake if he keeps hitting .150 for the big club.

      I know I’m down on Jake right now, again, but I’ve got to wonder if he’s just a bad student. He never looks smarter than a ML pitcher. He never seems to make good adjustments. I’d like to know what his hitting coach thinks of him.


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