Astros’ Stuff: This week

Your loyal writer was just re-reading a George Carlin transcript of his “stuff” routine…George Carlin – Stuff (thefrug.com)

It kind of tickled me and was a reminder that, in a way, this blog is a place to store our Astro “stuff”. Today will be a collection of Astro “stuff” for this early week in the season.

Perspective – Most folks are a little down after the Astros yakked up the last two games of three to the A’s over the weekend. Of course, before the season began, if we were told the Astros would be 6-3 headed into the second full week of the season, we would have been happy. 6-3 is solid, especially against the two teams that are supposed to be our biggest competitors this year. You go 6-3 over and over again, and you’ve won 108 games on the year. But after the team went 6-1, greed sets in, plus the desire to put our collective boots on the A’s throats. The A’s won 96 games in 2019 and were on a pace to do it again in the shortened 2020 season. They are not going away quietly into that good night.

That Bullpen – The Astros bullpen early on was top three in the AL. Not anymore, as they are sporting the ninth-best ERA (4.41) and have been shaky as they have given up five runs, five runs and three runs in their three losses. They are without Pedro Baez and Enoli Paredes, both on the IL, and both expected to pitch in higher leverage situations. Also, they have been burning through the relievers they do have on staff as the starters are mostly not going deep into games. This was expected to be a problem area due to workload and the injuries to Baez and Paredes, and the poor performances to date by Joe Smith, Brooks Raley and Blake Taylor are making the fans cringe at the call to the bullpen. It would help to get Baez and Paredes back. It would also help to get Jake Odorizzi and Framber Valdez back in the rotation. If the current bullpen denizens continue to be overworked and continue to underperform, is there any possibility of a young stud or two being given a shot at a bullpen slot?  

Kyle and Lack of Luck – Even though Kyle Tucker leads the team with both 4 HR and 11 RBIs in 9 games, he is sporting a terrible.189 BA. Is this because he is like Dave Kingman, where he either hits a home run or strikes out? No, his strikeout percentage is quite reasonable at 17.1%. Indeed, he is not drawing walks (only 2 on the season), but he puts the ball in play. That leads you to a really unbelievable stat, and that is his BAbip (batting average on balls in play) is only .107. The major league average is at a solid .287. This means Kyle has been pretty unlucky in finding holes out there only 10% of the time on balls he hits. Expect a good run from him pretty soon.

Walking it Back – The oddest early statistic on the Astros to date has to be Yuli Gurriel and his 9 walks. In his five-year career, he has topped out by drawing walks in 6.1% of his ABs in 2019. Currently, he is drawing walks at a 22.5% pace. His nine walks in nine games are tied for second in the majors, and when compared to the 12, he drew in 2020 in 57 games is hard to fathom. So far, this is working as Yuli is off to an excellent start at the plate.

Starting Confusion – There have been some odd and mixed signals from the team on starting pitching lately. Fans know that things are changing a bit with Jake Odorizzi joining the rotation on Tuesday, but still, there are some questions. There is the news that Cristian Javier has been sent at least temporarily to the alternate training site to supposedly build up his arm. After throwing 5 scoreless innings in his last outing, what are they looking for? Then there is no starter announced for Wednesday’s game. Since we just sent Javier down, who would have been in that spot? Doesn’t it have to be Lance McCullers Jr., who would be pitching on normal rest? Is this just to throw the opposition off?

The Week That Was – After a 4-0 start to the season, the Astros were 2-3 this week with two days off thrown in there. As discussed above, the bullpen hit a rough stretch, and the offense fell off in the last two losses scoring two and three runs, respectively. At the end of the week, the 6-3 Astros were tied with the Angels for the top of the AL West (with the M’s one game behind) and were also tied with the Red Sox for the best record in the American Leagues as a whole. They are trailing the tough Dodgers by one and a half games for the best record in all of baseball.

What is to Come – The Astros play the AL Central last-place Tigers three games at Minute Maid to complete their homestand. Some guy named A.J. Hinch will be involved with this, but some guy named Jeff Luhnow will not. Detroit is putting forward some good (so far) starting pitching for the series with Casey Mize (2.25 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (1.38 ERA), Matt Boyd (2.13 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (debut) and Michael Fulmer (2.57 ERA) vs. He Who Shall Not Be Named (Until Later). The Tigers bullpen has been last in the AL (7.17 ERA), and their offense has been offensive, only scoring 3.22 runs per game with a .197 team batting average. But just remember the team with worse numbers than that beat the Astros twice in a row.

Then after a Thursday off-day, the Astros head out to play the young and rising Seattle Mariners. The M’s starters (1-2, 6.23 ERA) have been their biggest weakness. Their relievers (4-2, 4.19 ERA) have been solid, and their offense (4.56 runs/ game .227 team BA) have been a little below average.

These two series are important for allowing the Astros to squirrel away some wins ahead of a rainy day.

Any thoughts as we move towards tax day (or what used to be tax day before everything changed)?

84 comments on “Astros’ Stuff: This week

  1. From a perspective standpoint, I saw a struggling Yordan Alvarez drop a perfect bunt down the third base line to lead off an inning when the Astros were in need of multiple runs. That particular play solidified my belief that Myles Straw does not care to be the best he can be as a team player. He can’t bunt. Never learned that baseball skill. Instead he talked again about stealing bases, at least 50. But what about scoring 100 plus runs? Wouldn’t that be a bit more relevant? Straw is not our guy.

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  2. BABIP! Dan, did you say BABIP?
    I just watched the 1939 version of “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”. Not a dry eye in the house.
    Who wants this series with the Tigers more? The Tigers, for their manager, or the Astros, for their’s?

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    • Interesting article. I’m a little perplexed also. Unless JC’s a total washout he should start at least every 5th game. Otherwise we run the risk of burning out Maldonado. Just my opinion. OK, now let’s do the deal tonight.

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    • No one asked me my op[inion, but it looks like “hitting” by a catcher is totally unimportant today. The Nationals just cut Lucroy and in a small sample he is hitting .357. So who the starting pitcher for the team is who determines who catches. Not the other team starter.

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  3. Greinke was throwing batting practice early in the game. The Astros continue to manage to not string the hits, but to make outs when they need a hit.

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      • Only banging we’re seeing/hearing is the Tigers banging out hits and scoring runs. With the Astros it’s like crickets chirping.

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      • Too soon? If I were in charge of marketing I would have made sure the home opener was a giveaway of plastic Astros trash cans for the first 10,000 fans (or however many were allowed inside).

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  4. Do you think it’s time to end the Mile Straw experiment? Maldonado may be a great catcher but an .094 BA is ridiculous. Could Castro be any worse? And as AC45 pointed out 2 for 23 with RISP ain’t going to get it. Kudos to Garcia on a well pitched 4 1/3 innings.
    Nothing like going from the penthouse to the outhouse in just a weeks time. Our guys are better than this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not that they have to replace either of the starting guys completely, but we are seeing way too little of Chas McCormick and Jason Castro. I would like to see them both used more.

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    • Zanuda, I promised Myles 100 AB’s before giving McCormick a shot. Honestly, he looks so terrible that he’d be better served being sent down and playing everyday, but there is no place for him to go down and play everyday yet. He can’t even seem to catch up to a 90 MPH fastball. Surely he saw 90+ in the minors. Two nice things: He’s walked 5 times. And while it was very tentative, he did square to bunt once last night. He did not get the signal a second time though, so maybe Dusty thought he didn’t look so good. But maybe this was telling. Dusty also brought in Garcia to pinch hit for him late. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

      Between our two catchers, I’d sure like to see Castro have a shot against more righties and less lefties. His lifetime stats are pretty solid with a righthander on the mound. Why wear out Maldonado when he’s not hitting?

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      • Mr. Bill, tough question. Being a results oriented person, I’m going to focus on those results so far. 7 singles, 1 up the middle, 5 to the right side, a dribbler down to third. I’m going to be kind and give him 100 AB’s, because he should be rewarded for all those walks. But you know, the real guys in charge might be looking at his .206 slugging percentage or the .514 OPS and think we need a bit more punch out of the 8th slot, especially since we have catchers not hitting in the 9th spot. He’s already had a whole bunch of pitches thrown his way, most of which have been deposited gently into the right field seats. At least he’s been generous with the souvenirs.

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  5. Have we [the Astros, not Chipalotta-ram] got all our ugly out yet? Maybe we have some kind of s & m complex where we actually play better when the fans are booing like crazy and throwing trash cans onto the field at us?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s really hard to find the pulse of this team, because some days they just don’t seem to have one.
    I thought they might be missing Springer, but, last season they played like this and he was there.
    Teams have funks. The A’s had it the entire first week of the season and then seemed to wake up and remember who they are.
    The next two games will be interesting. At least, I hope they will be.

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  7. Just wondering: Uh … have we changed our signs since A.J. Hinch was manager? They sure seemed to know everything that Greinke was throwing long before he did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought Greinke’s control was off. But with Angel behind the plate, your guess is as good as mine as to what a strike looks like. There are pitchers and batters that need a defined strike zone (Greinke) and others that can play without a home plate umpire (Altuve). Jose will swing at anything he “thinks” his bat can reach. (All I am saying about Angel is he is so inconsistent)

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      • I always thought Angel was consistent. He is good for a handful of blind “what was he looking at” calls every game and it can come at any time against either team. I wish Angel would head off to retirement heaven….

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This is going to sound like a political post but it is not meant that way. So the Commish decides to move the trade deadline because 4:00 PM ET on Jul 31st is a game day. Now a sane person would say,. how about making it Noon but that would be too simple. This same guy moves the All Star game because of voter laws but signs a deal with China where voting wrong may get you killed. Where is Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis when you need a tyrant? (I thought Bud Light was going down in history as the worst Commissioner in history, but Manfred clears that hurdle in street shoes.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Meanwhile, back to the 2021 Astros. Tonight we get to see Jake Odorizzi’s Astro debut. We REALLY need him to have a good outing. The bats are not exactly en fuego right now -and we are facing a pretty good strikeout pitcher in Matthew Boyd. We strike out a lot again this year, so this could be another long night.

    Worst offenders:
    1. Maldonado – has struck out 15 of 33 plate appearances [walk-to-strikeout ratio 1/15];
    2. Alvarez has struck out 12 of 43 plate appearances [walk to strikeout ratio = 1/12];
    3. Correa has struck out 10 of 43 plate appearances [walk to strikeout ration = 3/10]

    On a positive note, Altuve’s walk to strikeout ratio is 1/1, and Gurriel’s walk to strikeout ratio is 9/4. The Straw man? Yes, the one thing he has done right is that he has thus far walked [5] more than he has struck out [4].

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    • New, more appropriate nickname for Martin: “cuchillo de manteca”

      Is a long-term contract for Myles Straw next on the horizon?

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  10. The Astros’ & Rangers’ Alternate Site Teams are playing again right now at Whataburger Field in Corpus. Tyler Ivey is pitching for the Satellite ‘Stros. The visiting Strangers did not score in the top of the 1st. Ivey notched 2 Ks.

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  11. There was a little team.
    Who had a little dream,
    With a Star in the middle of their forehead.
    When they were good,
    They were very, very good,
    But when they were bad, they were horrid.
    But when they were bad, they were horrid.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When Mr. Baker pinch hit Cuchillo de Manteca for Jose Altuve with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth last night he was showing utter disdain for the team he is supposed to be managing, for the fans of that team, and for the whole Houston Astros franchise. Sir, the feeling is mutual. Have a nice life.

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  13. Last night’s game completely turned in the bottom of the second inning.
    Runners on second and third, a run in and only one out. 1-0 Astros.
    Castro strikes out on a pitch a foot outside and Altuve strikes out on three pitches looking.
    Detroit shifts the momentum, scores seven runs in the next three innings and it is over.

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    • I was hacked off when Castro was given a start against a left hander (not that Maldonado has been hitting anyone). He is a solid hitter against right handed pitchers and bad against left handed pitchers. If you are going to give him one start a week, pick your spots with intelligence.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Castro and Odorizzi played together on the 2019 Twins. I’m assuming they were paired up last night for familiarity reasons. I don’t have a good explanation for Castro only appearing in 3 games thus far this year though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was telling the Missus about this very thing last night…

        What is going on with Dusty??? Is it time to wonder just who is going to manage the Astros next year???

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      • I mentioned a couple times with Hinch and can say the same with Dusty. Is the Front Office using stats to make the manager do things that make absolutely no sense at all?

        It might be worth noting that with Brantley, Straw, Bregman, and Altuve out of the game , if Maldonado hits a 6 run home run and ties the game, who plays second base?

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      • What have you guys been smoking – Zuzu’s Petals?

        I would like to answer OP’s question, but I regret to inform you all that “You can’t handle the truth.”

        Is it true that after the game last night, Jose Altuve was overheard saying to Dusty Baker: “You don’t understand. I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”

        It is rumored that Baker replied to Altuve: “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

        Is it true that Altuve shot back: “Estúpido es el que hace estupideces.”

        If the Astros are going to take a game from the Tigers the way they are playing now, what A.J. Hinch would say to Dusty Baker is: You’re gonna need a bigger boat !” Meanwhile, ‘Just keep swimming.”

        And finally, who on earth came up with the idea that there is no place like home? The 2021 Astros have already thoroughly debunked that nonsense!

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  14. Amusing anecdote…. my wife and I have been watching some re-runs of the classic show “The Fugitive” on the Decades channel. We usually DVR it and watch it at dinner. Well, we were watching one yesterday where David Jansen is driving a woman and her daughter (and the lab rabbit with meningitis that the daughter slid out of her father’s lab) cross-country to California. So they stop at a store in Dalhart and of course the local sheriff walks in to pick up his daily paper, pulls it open (ignoring the front page story about the little girl kidnapped by her mother in a custody case and the infected rabbit) and says something like “Dang it, my Astros lost again.”
    Now whether anyone in Dalhart cared about the Astros, 700 miles away in those days I don’t know. But thought it was cute that the writer wanted to tie them to the only home state MLB baseball team at the time.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. There are two cities in Texas the names of which begin with ‘Dal’ and end in a body part. Dalhart is one. The other is one city to the east of the home of the Texas Rangers.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Alvarez, Bregman, Altuve, Maldonado and Robel Garcia to the IL.

    Garrett Stubbs, Alex De Goti, Ronnie Dawson, Taylor Jones and Ronnie Dawson to the big club.

    Welcome, one and all, to the Wreck of the Old 97.

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  17. If I remember right players on the COVID related IL do not count against the 40 man – so they can bring up DeGoti and Dawson (not currently on the 40 man) without a corresponding move from the roster.

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  18. And in more good news – ERCOT, who “runs” our electrical grid here in Texas wants people to use less power as they are about to do rolling black outs. We had some power blips last night.
    The weather is only in the 80’s, but…..spring time is when they take down a lot of power plants for maintenance and this time they have a lot of power plants needing maintenance from the winter storm. On top of that with cloudy and rainy weather our solar side is not helping us right now. I have no idea if the wind turbines are ok now or if they are still getting repaired after they all went down during the storm.
    This could be a nasty summer if they don’t get a handle on this before hand.

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    • That’s the problem with wind and solar. Solar doesn’t work when it’s cloudy, dark, or otherwise. Wind same thing, No wind means no power. I would think that with an abundance of Natural gas you’d have a lot of Gas turbine plants in Texas. And they’re a lot cheaper to build than a nuke and better than coal.
      As for the “new and improved Astros” let’s hope these guys will go out there and prove they’re genuine major league players.

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  19. Here is today’s lineup. I would have played McCormick or Jones instead of Dawson. I hope he proves me wrong.

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  20. These guys look like they just want to go home again. The bats won’t even give Lance a chance to catch his breath and he sure needs a break. Did they just say two 6 pitch innings in a row?

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  21. This:
    They HAVE to find another centerfielder. Straw is an automatic out PERIOD.
    McCullers ain’t gonna make it through June before is surgically repaired arm gives out. His pitch count goes so dang high by the 4th inning the bullpen has to throw multiple innings just like tonight. The league HAS his number he’s not fooling anyone right now.
    Altuve, Bregnan, Valdez and Maldonaldo out for how long???
    Mike Leake is still out there waiting for an invite…. Click might inquire on his want price. Our local sports guys think Puig could help this team but I don’t want any of his “drama” so I’m a no on that one. ICK he licks his bat and tries to lick his managers cheek. NO!!!
    Bullpen is in dire need of help IMMEDIATELY!!
    Is it too early to panic? Because I’m really in Panic mode BIG TIME.
    Always reading Becky⚾

    Liked by 3 people

  22. This team reminds me of the 2005 team. Both had automatic outs at the bottom of the lineup.
    2005 BA .256 with Pitcher batting. 2021 BA .268.
    Fielding 2005 .985 2021 Fielding .986.

    However, I do not see Clemens, Pettit, nor Oswald in the starters this year. But we do have several Ezequiel Astacio’s to make up for that.

    Liked by 1 person

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