Astros are 6-9 at the quarter pole, now what?

How can the Astros already be at the quarter pole of the season? It feels like it just started a few weeks ago. Oh, yeah.

The Astros limped into Oakland after coughing up the last two games at Arizona and then left there on life support after putting up a feeble fight in a three-game sweep. They scored five runs in the sweep, and that included one of those runs in the 13th inning of the Friday night loss.

Heading home with their tails between their legs, the Astros are 6-9 and 5-1/2 games behind the A’s for the AL West, 1/2 game behind the Rangers (spit!) for the second spot in the division and 1-1/2 games behind the 8-8 White Sox and Rays for the second AL wild card and on a five-game losing streak.

If this all seems weird, it is an unusual spot for the Astros. In 2019, their nadir was on April 3, when they were 2-5 and 4-1/2 games behind Seattle. By Game 30 they took over the top spot in the division for good. In 2018, the Astros never had a losing record — they did start off the season 1-1 — and when they were 10-7 on April 16, they were 3-1/2 games behind the Angels. They spend most of the season at or near the top and finally took the division lead for good in Game 127. Back in 2017, they again never had a losing record, bottoming out at 3-3. On April 10 and 11 they were 1-1/2 games behind the Angels, but by Game 11, they took over the division lead and never looked back.

So, you have to go back to 2016 for a start like this. That season they were even worse, 5-10 after 15 games. On May 22nd they fell to 11 games under .500 at 17-28 and were 10 games back of Seattle. By game 60 (our full season) they had pulled up a little at 28-32 and by the end of the season, they were 84-78 – 11 games back of the Rangers (spit!) in the AL West and 5 games back of Toronto and Baltimore in the wild card race.

So what now? Well, you could just fire Dusty Baker, After all this start must be his fault and not the fact that his pitching staff is crippled and his veteran hitters are hitting like a bunch of newbies.

So instead of wishing for something that isn’t going to happen and would likely change little if it did…..let’s look at what is happening:

  • Counterintuitively, the Astros are 3rd in the AL in scoring runs, while 12th in the league in allowing them. That seems backwards.
  • In 2019 the Astros were 10-4 in extra-inning games and this year they are 1-3.
  • In 2019 the Astros were 24-19 in one-run games and this year they are 1-4.
  • In 2019 the Astros pitchers’ WHIP (walks + hits allowed per inning) was 1.130 – this season it is 1.450
  • As a part, the Astros allowed 2.8 walks every nine innings last year and an unacceptable 4.7 this year
  • And while the Astros are scoring a fair amount of runs, their hitting in the clutch stinks. They are hitting .175 BA with 2 outs and runner in scoring position. Their hitting in late and close games is .225 BA with a .267 OBP.
  • They have not had good luck hitting so far – their babip (batting average on balls in play) is only .267.
  • They are terrible so far in leading off the game with or without George Springer – hitting ,133 BA and .133 OBP – 2 for 15 with 2 singles and 8 Ks.

Is there really anything to do at this point other than hope that adding Yordan Alvarez, Springer, the real Jose Altuve (who must have been abducted by aliens), Justin Verlander and Jose Urquidy (if they all come back) to this team will turn things around?

61 comments on “Astros are 6-9 at the quarter pole, now what?

  1. Dan, I almost wish they’d just send everyone home. I had no expectations a week ago, and I have fewer now. But, I’m still somewhat interested in seeing what a few of these young pitchers can show over the coming weeks. And I’m curious as to whether our veteran players will get up and start playing some quality baseball or just mail it in. I’m sure the whole thing is pretty discouraging for guys that played in game 7 of the World Series less than a year ago, but they made their own beds. I want to see what kind of character they have.

    Let me add too that you’ve done a heck of a job in trying to keep us engaged. It’s recognized.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for the kind words daveb. And I appreciate everyone sticking with this blog through this unbelievable off-season.
      I will say this – even though I’ve had to be a bit more negative here lately – it sure is easier to write when there are actual games happening. That 8-1/2 month off season was hell on wheels to fill with content.
      The thing is that baseball is such a streaky game – that its the 162 games that allows everything to find its level. There are some things that won’t get there in 60 games and if some guys are pressing because they realize 15 games is a 1/4 of the season, they may never get those averages back to where they should be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, this is the way it goes. This is 2020, right? Has anything gone right this year?
    I am a fan of the Astros. I spent a lot of years forgetting and starting over. We all spent a lot of years getting whipped and beaten up by the Astros. Seven years ago they had the lowest payroll in the majors and in 2020 they were lined up to spend $227 million on payroll and go into payroll hell. They don’t have to do that and 2021 can be a year where they start to get the payroll under control and reload, instead of rebuild.
    Cora’s gone, Taubman’s gone, Beltran’s gone, Reid Ryan and his father are gone, Luhnow’s gone, Hinch is gone and there will be a bunch of players who will be gone.
    Things are going to change and that’s okay with me.
    Due to unforeseen circumstances, I have time on my hands. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings with my comment. I just want to say that , if the Astros want to move on from a lot of the unhappiness, do it.
    If they want to start acting like a good baseball team again, starting today, that’s okay with me, also.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey here is one thing that has gone right. My youngest son who has all the health issues saw his dermatologist last week. He is 25 but has already had skin cancer. The doctor wanted to biopsy a growth on his face and it came back benign. So there.
      I think the only thing that is sure in this world is change. But the Astros also have the ability to get on a roll and make these playoffs and if they do that then it is anyone’s ball game. If they don’t make it – we will at least have a much better handle on our future at least on the pitching side.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Dan, your first comment about your son makes all other stuff pale in comparison. A big thanks for all you do in spite of those things that cause us difficulty in these and other times. I understand since my son has issues but that they are not medical. He is 26 and it has been a struggle to get him to come out of his shell. I won’t go into all of it but it definitely hurts when he has said things that just eat away at you. Prayers for you and family.
        As for the Astros it’s not only been disappointing thus far when we thought that watching our favorite baseball team fall into a state of disrepair. As for the incident there is a youtube video which kind of breaks it down for those that didn’t see all of it. There’s some salty language in it so be advised.

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      • Z – I’ll keep your son in my thoughts and prayers also. My son along with quite a few physical problems, also is high functioning autism (Asperger’s) so I very much empathize on the coming out of the shell challenges.

        On your video – thanks – I forgot that Bailey had been traded for Laureano and I did not know that Dave Stewart had thrown some logs on the fire about that. I did enjoy Garneau’s take down – he should go give the Texans some tackling lessons (tongue in cheek)

        Liked by 1 person

    • When I glanced quickly at your writeup Billy C – I thought you had a hip issue. Oh well, I am happy for Stassi. He’s been through a lot ever since he took that pitch in the face as a rookie.
      Hope he does well except when we play them

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  3. LMJ has a great pitching performance. Josh James does his best to screw it up. Gives up 4 runs in two innings. Presley gets the save but allows two to score and almost chokes but comes through. Tucker and Straw can’t hit a beach ball but Tucker did make a couple of 9th inning plays. Altuve needs to sit for awhile because he’s terrible right now. Yep that 2 -9 RISP will kill you almost every time. There’s very little inspirational play coming from these guys with a few exceptions. But it’s a win and we’ll take it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Couldn’t watch the ninth inning. After watching the Astros mess up the bottom of the 8th with 2 runners in scoring position and none out. I was already fit to be tied.
    Then watching James come out for the ninth, I was livid. If you want to build up his confidence, take him out after the 8th inning, giving up only the one run. James is not right. You got the eye test and you got the metrics. What the hell else is there that a manager with a mask can’t see?
    The Astros are worse than a rerun of Shrek!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Machete says Lance shook him off only 3 times. Normally he shakes him off (I believe Berman meant to say 15) times out of 70 pitches:

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    • I can see shaking off 150 times on 70 pitches. A catcher puts down a finger for a pitch and the pitcher says no, then the C puts down another two fingers and gets shook off, then C puts down three fingers for a yes… that’s TWO no’s for ONE pitch. TWO times SEVENTY equals 140 shake offs at that point.

      Add to that the number of times that the catcher and pitcher run through all of the pitches and then start over again, all for one pitch. It happens easily.

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  6. Pleased to wake up to a win. What’s with the 8:10 PM start times? That’s 9:10 PM here and I’m about ready to call it a night at that point. Just watched the condensed game. Did someone use the world lethargic? Reddick getting thrown out at the plate on a ball well behind first base? Bregman waved at the one hit McCullers gave up? These are head in the game/hustle issues. That’s what pisses me off. I think Josh James will be around unless he’s injured. We don’t have enough arms as it is. Good to see LJM throw an excellent game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a national broadcast. They do that because the networks have baseball in their hip pocket. TV revenue is MLB’s only revenue.

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      • OP
        When the Astros make their next west coast swing the first two games against the Padres are 8:10 central (third game is an afternoon game) and the first three games against the Angels are 8:10 central (fourth game is an afternoon game). No way all those games are national TV game.

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      • Dan, MLB made all of the Astros’ and Rangers’ late games on the west coast start an hour earlier than usual as a favor to their fans, Remember that WC games usually start at 9pm.
        8:10 will be the start time when we are on the west coast. 8:10 was the start time last night so that fans on the west coast could see their Giants in prime time, rather than a 5pm start time out there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I said the same thing in a previous comment down below – I was just responding to your national broadcast comment

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  7. I assume the 8:10 central start times are a compromise when the west or mountain play the central – not great for either fan base but better than if the west coast games started at 9:10 or the central start at 7:10 central.
    D’Backs are playing the Rockies right now (two mountain time zone teams) and starting at 7:40 central (6:40 mountain) while like the Dodgers are playing the Padres (two pacific time zone teams) and starting at 8:40 central (6:40 pacific).

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  8. This was a good start for McCullers and probably a good matchup for him as the Giants did not work the counts that much.
    The early look at some of next season’s OF is not giving us much confidence. Straw is hopeless right now – Tucker is bad (though he does hit .313 with runners in scoring position). How hard will the Astros go after Brantley or Springer? Would they bring back a Reddick at a deep discount? Will Tucker and Straw turn things around?

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    • What they do about their outfield probably is determined by their position in the standings as the deadline approaches.
      Weighing the acquisition of assets by trading players away at the deadline, versus issuing QO’s in the off season is something they have to tackle. They already have four big salaries on the books for next season. If every other team is as bad off financially as we are hearing, players might accept QO’s and stay put for another season. That could mean the Astros could be stuck with six huge salaries next season, after losing a ton of money this year.
      It’s important to remember that there will be no attendance in the playoffs, eliminating huge amounts of cash from any playoff teams.
      Losing a full season in the minors hurts a lot. Astros’ outfield prospects got no work and that has to hurt, especially McCormick.
      I agree with you about Straw looking like a AAA hitter trying to hit MLB pitching.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve forgotten. Why did we trade Laureano for Home Run Bailey? I know he had a really crappy year in Corpus in 2017 after a really good year in 2016. Was he a victim of us having too many guys to protect? He’s turned into a pretty good ballplayer.

      The thing about Tucker and Straw that surprises me a bit is that neither guy really impresses me defensively. So outside of being able to steal a base, nothing really impresses so far anyway. I hope both guys get very regular playing time all the way through our 60 exhibition games.

      James Click, the silent one, more silent than Luhnow, has got a pretty good challenge on his hands in building the 2021 version of our Astros.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’ve pretty much hit on it there daveb. He was excellent in 2016 – .319 BA/ .428 OBP/ .955 OPS which included 2/3 of the season at Lancaster, but he was very good in the other 1/3 at Corpus. In 2017 he stayed at Corpus and was bad – .227 BA/ .298 OBP/ .668 OPS. They traded him because they thought the second number was who he was and he was Rule 5 eligible and they didn’t want to use a 40 man space on him.
        He goes to Oakland and he’s been good to very good ever since. I think he understands their drum banging code better than our can banging code. (This is a joke).

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oakland has a lot of guys who are over performing. Smart teams might think it worth looking at their coaching and what approaches they are taking that deviate from the norm.

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  9. It was interesting seeing Tucker wearing batting gloves for the first time. I would say hitting gloves – but he wasn’t doing too much of it.
    I still give Tucker plenty of time to improve. At this age – Springer was still about a year from the majors. I like guys who hit well with runners on – they have the ability – have to learn to concentrate hard on every at bat. I do like that he is our best base stealer – gets great breaks and knows when to go for it.

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  10. So far the guys play a little better at home, even if there are no fans. My opinion only….you guys might not agree.
    How in the hell did this team go from McCullers throwing a no hitter….to the bullpen literally giving this excellent start to nearly LOSING it??!! I’m always delighted that I actually get to SEE these games….but like OP I had to turn it off.
    MLB will rule on the fight with the A’s, this afternoon. Luhnow traded Laueano because we had a surplus of outfielders, and he wasn’t progressing as fast as they thought he should have.
    This kid made some VERY inflammatory things about Luhnow and the Astros organization. He’s a punk, and a hothead. He deserves any punishment they give him.

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  11. I didn’t watch the game last night, but am watching the recording right now. I actually felt sorry for their starter Webb during our 3rd inning 4 run rally.
    – He struck out Straw easily (well who hasn’t)
    – Altuve hits a medium grounder between 3B Solano (he of the .450+ batting average and the SS). If you think Bregman lacked effort on the hit that broke up the no hitter you have not seen this play. He completely whiffed on grabbing this one right in front of him No excuse
    – Then Reddick hits what looks like it could be an inning ending DP, but for the millionth time, he was able to make contact with the catcher’s glove – so we now have guys on 1st and 2nd with one out
    – Bregman could easily have been called out with a 2-2 count, but the ump gives it to him and he ends up taking a walk
    – Brantley then hits a jam shot the other way that loops in just fair and bounces into the stands in medium left field – 2 runs in – guys on 2nd and 3rd
    – Gurriel hits a grounder to Solano again and he throws home – hitting Bregman in the back.
    – Guys on 1st and 3rd – Correa hits a possible DP to 2B, but basically ties the throw back to first and gets an RBI.
    It looks like a crooked number up on the score board – but we wuz lucky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, I thought Webb looked pretty good during the two innings I watched. I have absolutely no problem with Cintron getting 20 games. He’s supposed to be the adult in the room and instead he threw fuel on the fire. I don’t know if there is room for him in an organization that needs rehabilitation on the national stage.

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  12. Citronella should have gotten the same as Laureano. Both were wrong, and coaches should be held at a higher standard. If Citroën made any comments about the kids mother (which I doubt)….then he might deserve 20 games.
    BUT….this isn’t the first time that kid has had a run in with the Astros going back to 2018. I don’t care for ANY mouthy kid who keeps a chip on his shoulder about being traded. IF he gets less than 5-6 games, then Citroën should get less time as well. That’s all from me.

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  13. Tucker with a solid triple to center – he doesn’t look that fasr but boy he covers the ground and Maldonado driving him in with a double.
    I like watching Bielak pitch – kid doesn’t waste time.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. 6-2 when Dusty brings in the lefty. Ooops! Now 6-5 as Pence hits a 3 run home run. That old school lefty/righty match up doesn’t fly anymore. Paredes was doing fine.

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  15. Stubbs or somebody has an attack of the dumb ass! Makes the third out at third trying to steal. Stupidity at it’s finest! Hope it doesn’t come back to bite us.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Neither is Cy Sneed. I couldn’t even watch anymore after the blown save by Pressley. Sneed doesn’t belong on this team. Perfect opportunity to pick up a game on the A’s and well, you know the story. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer but we’ve been seeing that same rerun several times too many already this season.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Nasty lost tonight. Blow a 6-2 lead. Can’t get the guy in from 3rd and one out in the 10th.
    Don’t like that Tuckers called out on a ball 6″ outside after we were getting squeezed in the 9th and 10th

    Liked by 1 person

    • After seeing Stubbs get thrown out, I turned off my TV and put a picture of myself in my easy chair to finish up the game.
      Dan, MLB Gameday confirms this morning that the third pitch to Tucker was indeed an 84 mph 4-seam fastball that was at least 4-5 inches outside.

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  17. After starting the season well, our bullpen has been quite meh lately:

    On a positive note, both Straw and Altuve had textbook opposite field RBI singles; going with the pitch and not trying to pull everything. I think they have been watching Correa do that all year.

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    • Unfortunately Correa could not make contact when we needed it so badly in the 10th. Could not get a bead on that submariner they brought in to pitch.

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  18. I got a good nights sleep. Zanuda, I would not worry about picking up a game on the A’s right now. I’m looking for .500 ball which might get us into this years version of the post season.

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  19. Bielak walked the leadoff runner in the 5th. He was forced out at second, but bad throw on the double play attempt by Correa cost the Astros a DP. The baserunner who was put on by the walk then scored the Giant’s second run.
    With one out in the seventh Paredes walks Tromp. Blake Taylor comes in to face LH batters and walks Yaz. Both of those BBs score on Pence’s HR. Pence came in to face Taylor and Baker couldn’t change pitchers, so the Giant’s manager outcoaches Baker there after we give the Giant them 2 baserunners who score their runs #3 and 4.
    In the ninth inning, Pressley walks Yaz with one out and he ends up scoring the tying run after 2 hits.
    That’s four runs they scored as a direct result of four walks by our pitchers.
    Then, MLB gives the Giants a free runner on second to start the tenth inning and he scores the winning run.
    That totals five runners who scored off of free passes in a 7-6 win.
    Correa made a fielding mistake that cost the Astros dearly and Altuve got picked off at first late in the game and Stubbs foolishly was thrown out trying to steal 3B late in the game.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OP – and Redick got thrown out trying to stretch a double to a triple by about 20 feet.
      sarge – our coaches are too busy baiting the opponent about their Mamas to actually coach our players

      Like

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