Astros 2018: Week in review and the week ahead

As you can tell, sometimes Dan P tries different things just to shake the monotony of the long baseball season. So, today this is a look at the past week, the coming week and some other odd features that will be a weekly feature until Dan P decides to do something else…

The week of 8-20 through 8-26 in review

The Astros began the week at 75-49 and a 1 game lead in the AL West. They fell back into a tie with the A’s by losing the opener in a series with the Mariners. The Astros then won the next 5 games this week, the last two games of the M’s series and then sweeping the Angels in a 3 game weekend series to get them back to a 1.5 game lead over the surging Oakland A’s. The most critical game of the week was the Astros 3-2 win over the M’s on Tuesday in a battle of the bullpens. The Astros pulled Brad Peacock from the bullpen and the Mariners pulled Nick Vincent from the bullpen to start the games, but the most crucial pitcher in this game was rookie Framber Valdez, who gave up one unearned run in 4.1 IP in his major league debut.

The Astros rode a newly regenerated offense that had multiple stars from game to game to three big scoring wins of 10-7, 9-3 and 8-3. The hitting heroes varied from red-hot Marwin Gonzalez and Tyler White to newly hot Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Martin Maldonado, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick. The Astros topped it off with a similar game to the Tuesday win in beating the Angels 3-1 on the get-away game of the series.

The week of 8-27 through 9-2 in preview

The next week of baseball will be spent all at home (not so) sweet home (33-29 record – 8th best in the AL).  The three games against the second place Oakland A’s will be their last head to head games this season and so will probably be played with playoff urgency. Whoever wins the AL West avoids the angst of a one game, win or go home, Wild Card game.

The Astros will then play the rest of the week with four games against the LA Angels, who they have just finished playing in Anaheim. This will be the first week the Astros will not have an off day since before the All Star break.

The hope is they will bring their road record brilliance (47-21) home with them and will open a bit of a gap over the A’s, who have been on an insane 45-16 run the last couple months.

Player of the Week: Framber Valdez

Stat focus: Justin Verlander

Verlander has compiled a 13-8 record after picking up a win on Saturday night against the Angels. It is interesting to look at how he has pitched in different sets of his games…..

  • In his first seven wins he had a microscopic 0.76 ERA
  • In his last six wins he has put up a more human 3.32 ERA
  • In his seven no decisions he has a 1.71 ERA that is obviously deserving of three plus additional wins
  • Four of his losses appear undeserving as he put up a very good 2.35 ERA
  • Four of his losses appear totally deserving with a nasty 9.18 ERA

You don’t have to squint too hard to see that he has been above average to excellent in 24 of his 28 starts, but only has 13 wins to show for the superlative effort.

Classic Rock Song That Should Have Been a Hit – “Until the Night” by Billy Joel

Joel became a superstar with the album “The Stranger” and followed it up with a #1 album “52nd Street” that sported such big singles as “Big Shot”, “Honesty” and “My Life”.  “Until the Night” was not released as a single in the US, but it is a classic throw back to the blue-eyed soul of the Righteous Brothers with terrific vocal harmonies and soaring saxophone by Richie Cannata. The 6+ minutes length probably kept this song from being released as-is, but it is one of the finest examples of retro-pop from the late 70’s.

So what do you think about this new weekly format and what do you think the odds are of Dan P sticking to it?

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194 comments on “Astros 2018: Week in review and the week ahead

  1. If the Astros can do one thing better than they have all season, they have a chance to take control of the AL West. That one thing they can do that can change everything is to win at home.

    Liked by 3 people

    • ok diane i have a song for you. ……and i want a hula hoop, i can hardly stand the wait, oh christmas dont be late. circa early 60’s.
      as far as winning streaks go, five games ago i said it would be a good time to start a winning streak, if sandy and diane are feeling that too, i have confidence good things are ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do understand this is all proving my limited brain range. But the way things are going out there in the world, it’s hard to worry ’bout sech thangs.

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      • The actual name is “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” but the cover versions generally modify the title.

        Somewhere on my hard drive is a clip of Brian Wilson (the musical genius not the former pitcher, although he himself sported a similar beard at times) goofing around with that same song.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Let’s face it, Billy. Even the geniuses among us get caught up in the most inconsequential things. Thank goodness.

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      • Diane, not sure about you, but as I have aged, my memory is still strong about the 1950’s-60’s. But I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, or if I even ate.

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      • Same here. Remember vignettes from high school, along with names of students, but people I work with now — I don’t know who they are half the time. And when you started out “not sure about you,” I thought it was an evaluation. Like, I’m not sure about me either.

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  2. If the Astros hit at home they will win at home. If you will notice, every hitter that has gotten hot is being more selective at the plate and hitting the ball as its pitched (instead of trying to pull EVERYTHING). When they do this they hit outside pitches to the opposite field. This takes away the outer part of the plate and forces the pitcher to come more inside. The result is these hitters are not only getting more hits but also getting more mistakes to drive. As an added benefit they aren’t rolling over so many pitches and hitting into double plays.

    There is a quote in The Art of Hitting (I think a Ted Williams quote) that says “when you quit trying to hit home runs and start trying to hit the ball you will get both hits and home runs”. Another quote from the same book says “When you swing for the fences you miss more balls. Very few missed balls leave the park. You have to hit it to get it.”

    This approach is infinitely more important when playing at MMP. Due to the quirky dimensions you only have half an outfield to play with. If you pull the ball at home it better be out of the park; there’s just not much real estate to work with. There is no foul territory to defend. That and the short porches let the corner outfielders play shallower, cheat to the gaps and take away even more field. The only expanse in MMP is from the notch in left center to where the fence lowers in right center. If you can’t hit to those areas you won’t get many hits. In my opinion this has affected their home record more than anything else.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m in kind of a good place with the Astros right now. They have a better record than they did at this time last season and this story is a different one. They are having to fight harder to accomplish their goal and I like the sequel to be different than the original.
    But I’m in a good place anyway. This gym membership and this diet are paying off as my big belly is disappearing fast. I know I’m doing some things right because I hurt some of the time in places I haven’t hurt for years. I’m able to do more stuff and not say no when someone asks me to do something or go somewhere.
    I’m taking the Mrs on vacation next week, to the mountains. She can’t believe we’re going. I want it to be fun and relaxing for her and I plan to take her out when she wants to go out, fish when she wants to fish and relax when she wants to relax. We haven’t taken a vacation together since ’96 and that was with the kids. It was in ’75 when we last went to the mountains together by ourselves.
    I’ve got this here new smart phone so I can check scores and Chipalatta when I’m “out there”. This oughtta be good. I don’t have a clue what I’m doin with the thing. Smart phone for a dummy.
    Anyway, that’s my news.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Somehow I lost my writeup of Framber Valdez’s Player of the week.
    Basically, this week there were a number of very good performers, such as Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez, but the top performer was Valdez who combined a 4.1 IP relief appearance and a 5.0 IP starting appearance with 1 earned run allowed into two huge wins on the week.

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  5. A few former Astro or Astro farmhand roster moves…
    – Rio Ruiz is called up by the Braves
    – Josh Fields (Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa’s best World Series friend) moved to the 60 day DL by the Dodgers
    – Carlos Perez – brought up from the minors by the (spit!!) Rangers

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  6. One takeaway from yesterday’s game:

    I really like Framber! He reminds me of a young DK (the real DK – Daryl Kile). He’s shorter, rounder and throws with the other hand but there are a lot of similarities. I even went back and watched some videos of DK to make sure.

    -Like young DK his curve doesn’t look like his fastball, his fastball looks like his curve. His delivery point and arm action make him look like he is throwing a breaking ball on every pitch.
    -Like young DK he throws a very heavy FB that kind of sneaks up and explodes late. It makes you look at the radar gun and think there is no way that pitch was 95 MPH.
    – Like young DK he varies his FB velocity greatly. In Framber’s case between 90 and 96.
    – Like young DK he is just wild enough to keep everyone honest and on their toes.
    – Like young DK he pitches off of his CB, which rarely ends up in the strike zone yet hitter just can’t seem to lay off of it.
    – Like young DK he works his catcher to death
    – Like young DK he has a sneaky good slider with small, but very late action
    – Like young DK he is not afraid of the hitter making contact (i.e. he doesn’t give up pitches for the sake of the strikeout)
    – Like young DK it seems like no one really squares up anything they hit

    I believe the kid has a real shot to be a solid and effective mid- rotation starter.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I had a hunch about something and decided to act on it. Since the GCL Astros season appears to be over, I decided to look at the roster of the next highest farm team we have. That is the Tri City Valley Cats of the New York-Penn League, who are very close to clinching a playoff spot. There, I find the name Ernesto Jaquez listed on their pitching staff.
    Apparently, the Astros want to see more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did he get bumped up? That kid, at only 19 years of age, is very, very good! His WHIP is almost unbelievable. I’d like to see them stretch him out a little more and give him a few more starts. He’s the real sleeper in our system.

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      • Yep, he was promoted after the Florida State league ended their regular season. I just double-checked myself and Jayne Hansen has the transaction on her blog, What the Heck, Bobby.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the update. The move probably means he starts the 2019 season in high A. If he keeps throwing like he has he could see AA before his 20th birthday.

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  8. A second takeaway from yesterday’s game:

    Stassi is a very good pitch framer! He’s a solid overall catcher. However, he is not even in the same league defensively as Maldanado. Watching the two block balls over the weekend was night and day. Maldanado drops and blocks, keeping most balls in front of him. Stassi stabs with his glove and let’s them get by him.

    Stassi is also useless as a hitter right now. Take out May when he hit .340 and he is a .197 hitter with an OBP just below .300. He looks totally lost at the plate right now. I can’t even remember the last time I saw him make hard contact. His strikeout rate is up to 33% and Steamer projects him to slash .194/ .265/ .323 for the rest of the season. This would be an improvement over his last three months average.

    I no longer believe he makes the playoff roster. I think the spot will be used for someone that can pinch hit/ pinch run. The only way I see him on the playoff roster is if they choose to leave Gattis off, which I do not see happening.

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    • I think they will go with McCann and Maldanado in the playoffs. I also think that, if he is healthy, Jake Marisnick will be that pinch runner/ PH/late inning defensive guy. He missed last year and Hinch likes Jake.
      I believe if Stassi does not make the roster, he will still be in the dugout with the team throughout the playoffs, like Fiers and Jake were last year.

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  9. Commentators discussed earlier how Coles high pitch count correlates to his high strikeouts numbers, a minimum of 3 pitches to SO a hitter vs maybe 1-2 pitches for a groundout/flyout and so on.

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    • I loved Reddick’s crazy single that got himself to 3rd on two bad throws.
      I loved Springer turning an 0-2 count into a walk
      And I especially loved Bregman going the other way on the first pitch he sees for a huge game changing homer

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  10. -It’s hard to fault Bregman for anything, but I think he would be the first to tell you that his getting thrown out at second was his mistake. He should either have been running harder from the beginning or stopped at first.
    -The guy who caught Bregman’s HR was very careful to keep his hands close in, so as not to interfere with Piscotty. The fan was amply rewarded with his trophy.
    -When the Astros start to hit, they really rack up the doubles. It was that way last season.
    -Kudos to Cole, who had little movement on his pitches in the first three innings. He sucked it up, hung in there and saved the bullpen.
    -Wondering what the attendance will look like tonight, without the ring promotion.
    -Mike Stanton was horrible to listen to last night. He’s a motor-mouth.
    -Josh Reddick is the driving force behind the group stare. He gives the signal.
    -A’s fans were upset after the game that Anderson got the start. They claim that the Astros thrash LHP. The Astros have a 30-21 record against LHP and a 50-30 record against RHP. The Astros have faced more LH starting pitchers than anybody. Oakland has faced four less LH starters than us and everybody else have faced far less. The Astros have learned to hit LHP because they have faced so many. Last season the Astros were 21-24 against LH starters, but this is 2018, not 2017.

    Liked by 3 people

    • – Bregman is now THE GUY – the one you want up with a one run lead and a guy on first in the bottom of the 8th, who can decide to bring all the kids home with a terrific opposite field drive. I’ll let him have a base running mistake in any game he has 4 hits (and a line drive out) and 4 RBIs
      – Cole sucking it up was critical. It really saved the bullpen from a very long day
      – Hope the attendance stays decent as the Astros have one of their first weeknights with the kids back in school
      – Todd Kalas needs to stuff some popcorn in Mike Stanton’s mouth or kick him in the shins – something to slow him down
      – Has been nice for the Astros long missing home offense to appear

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  11. Dan…..yeah, no I can’t see me wearing a Burka! But that’s pretty funny!
    I am starting to see Luhnow’s method to his madness…..3 of our “core 4” spent a few weeks on the DL this summer, and our numbers started to dwindle. The only one who didn’t take any time off was Bregman, and I guarantee you he would have gone out there if he had to crawl to 3rd base! Now…….they are prepared to be rested, and healthy going down the stretch! I hope I’m right about the rest these guys got, and they are ready to play ANYBODY who is in their way! McCann could have already been cleared to play, along with Devo and Jake…..but they are waiting until this weekend when the rosters expand to bring them back in the fold. Just my observation…..but it kinda makes sense.
    WHATCHA think?? I didn’t spell that with all caps, but my tablet is being stubborn today!

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    • i think you are right on, becky. we are getting healthy and come sept. 1 we will have close to our full team with us (minus LMJ) and a few call ups that will help as well. i really think the last 7 games of the season wont matter enough that we cant align our rotation and rest some bumps and bruises and be ready to begin the playoffs on full throttle. btw when we are done with the A’s, they and the mariners begin a 4 game set, those 2 teams play 3 more in mid sept. somebody gets a loss during those seven. if we are taking care of business one or both will start to fade in the rearview mirror.

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  12. The A’s rotation took their second hit this week as last night’s loser Brett Anderson goes on the DL with a forearm strain…..

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  13. Guys, I think the Team Stare is as cute as a bug in a rug; however, a percentage of the pregame was preoccupied with it. Could we cool it till we win Series 18? I’m wet blanket mama, and I believe with all my heart pride goeth before a fall.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just a little control issues. Just like previous appearances. Maybe he needs to miss a start. Expansion of rosters might be a good time to do it. One thing about the A’s, they just don’t chase too many pitches out of the zone. Wasn’t sure about the HBP to Kris Davis.

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  14. The booth needs to shorten promo conversations during game action, they talk to much too long. 7-8 mins of promo talk. I want to hear gm talk, lol. Could not find anything else to complain about knowing the guys will trim this 3-1 hole their in

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Charlie just didn’t have it tonight. What’s up with our pitchers and their pitch counts? Before you know it they have thrown 95 pitches, and it’s only the 5th inning. Marwin and this umpire have some history…..which is why Marwin needs to stop talking.

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    • Becky, had to laugh at that one. That’s exactly what my mother used to say to me when I’d do something that wasn’t on the up and up when I was just a young-in’.

      Like

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