On the brink of May: The Astros looking ahead

The blog will give out some April Chipalatta Awards in our next post, but today we will look ahead to the month of May and those things that “may” come for the Houston Nine.

  • The Astros do have some days off scattered during the month (May 3, 17, 24, 27). There is that 13 days stretch of no days off in the middle of the month from the 4th through the 16th that the team will have to navigate.
  • The Astros top 4 starters at this time are Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy. With the May 3rd off day, they don’t need a 5th starter until May 8th and based on his recent performance this is likely to be Luis Garcia as the Astros wait for Jake Odorizzi to return from the IL. Kent Emanuel has earned another shot at a spot start, but the team wants to use him as a second lefty out of the bullpen, especially against the lefty centric Rays.
  • In the most positive sense, May should be the month of returning health for the Astros. Heading into May with Yordan Alvarez returning from the COVID IL, the position players should be at full strength. We hope full strength is stronger than they showed in their 1-0 loss against the M’s in that series finale. Though we don’t know how much rehab these pitchers must do, we understand Andre Scrubb should be back ready early in May, Enoli Paredes, Blake Taylor and Odorizzi some time in mid-May and there may even be a chance for a Framber Valdez return by the end of the month. Reliever Pedro Baez on the other hand was ominously moved to the 60-day IL, so his return is out there.
  • The Astros schedule for the month is a mixed bag of teams that are underperforming (for the moment), overperforming (for the moment) and performing to spec. Some thoughts…
    • They start off with three against the 13-13 Tampa Bay Rays, who knocked the Astros out of a WS trip in 2020 and darned near did it in 2019. Always a tough team for the Astros.
    • They follow up with three against the disappointing 11-14 NY Yanks. The Yanks’ fans are warming up for a scream and obscenity fest on the Astros by working over deposed manager A.J. Hinch and his Detroit Tigers this weekend.
    • Minute Maid will be full of emotion when George Springer returns to Houston with his 11-12 Toronto Blue Jays for a three-game series. We hope the home team shows some emotion that seems to be missing since George left.
    • The Astros come back to the AL West division with 3 against the all too familiar 12-11 Angels and their part-time two-way wonder of Shohei Ohtani and the best player breathing Mike Trout.
    • Mixed in will be two series with the cellar-dwelling 11-15 Texas Rangers. Hopefully, those 7 games give the Astros a chance to make hay or make up ground on the division.
    • They play 3 against the first place 16-10 Oakland A’s towards the end of the month by which time either a) Mike Fiers will have developed a hang nail trip to the IL or b) they will start him either before or after the 3 game series with his best friends in Oakland.
    • Dodgers’ fans get their first shot at WS revenge on the Astros with fans in the stands in a 2 game series at Chavez Ravine against the 16-10 LA club. This won’t be comfortable, but will likely be much more civil than the Yankee visit.
    • The Astros then play the Dodger wannabes in the 14-12 Padres with 3 games in San Diego. Chances are the Padres will be much better by that time than they have played to date.
    • The Astros finish off May with the first game of a series against the resurging 16-10 Red Sox. This allows the Astros to exact some pound of flesh from the Sox manager Alex Cora, who was supposedly behind the Astros’ cheating scandal for which they were punished and the Red Sox cheating scandal that baseball mostly ignored.

The Astros and their fans are looking forward to a challenging May, but one where they hopefully will be healthier than in April and without the stumbling block of a COVID scare and loss of prime players. What are they hoping to see?

  • The first RBI from Martin Maldonado. He basically had an RBI every other game in 2020 (24 RBIs in 47 games) and has not had a single one in his first 17 games of 2021.
  • Kyle Tucker to hit in some positive luck as he seems to be leading the league in hard-hit balls finding no holes to date with a .185 BA and a .169 BAbip.
  • A lot more save opportunities for the most reliable arms in the bullpen – Ryne Stanek (2.19 ERA) and Ryan Pressly (0.82 ERA)
  • Continued hitting success from Yordan Alvarez (.309 BA/ .355 OBP/ .855 OPS) with some power improvement on his 2 HRs to date (the same as Jason Castro).
  • Much more of Cristian Javier (3-0, 0.87 ERA) and his 17 straight scoreless innings.
  • More of the helpful youngsters – Luis Garcia, Brandon Bielak, Kent Emanuel and Peter Solomon.
  • A week or two where someone like Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and/or Jose Altuve totally dominates for a week and wins 3 or 4 games by himself. (I would add Yuli Gurriel in here but what else can we expect from the guy).
  • A little more consistency out of Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers, who need to quit the good/bad/good/bad starts.
  • Myles Straw to run with the improvement we have seen lately and be that on-base guy who flips the lineup.
  • And of course the healthy and effective return of the pitchers mentioned in the first section of this post.

So, on to the second month of the season. What are you looking forward to seeing?

35 comments on “On the brink of May: The Astros looking ahead

  1. I want to see the day to day lineup just solidify and settle in and do what they are capable of doing. Covid has to got to be pretty much behind them now, and it’s a real season from here on out, unlike anything since 2019.

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  2. • Since Machete is starting today, I want to see his first RBI in April
    • Tucker is way overdue for more hits. He will get them eventually
    • Saves are nice, but I would rather see us have complete games and blowout wins
    • Yordan is DH today! (Jones to taxi squad)
    • Scrubb is activated today! (Solomon to ATS)

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  3. Do you think if we had Zack Greinke dye his hair different colors and wear a medical mask he could pass for Maldonado at the plate?

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  4. Here’s the deal:
    What’s up with the “covid/injury” thing??
    Alveraz has HAD covid…he’s had *2* vaccines. Are his knees THAT BAD?
    I don’t get “it”….but Dusty can only pull this stuff for so long before MLB starts to get wise to this. Put the kid on the IL or play him. This covid stuff is beginning to irritate me to no end.
    McCullers is EXTREMELY lucky to have plenty of offense behind him tonight because his pitch count is already high 90’s!
    Astros 6-
    Rays 0
    Top of the 7th…McCullers 109 pitches

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    • Becky –
      I’m assuming that Alvarez may have had a false positive (which occur more often than publicized) and had to pass two negatives to come back
      Alvarez has been running pretty well – scoring runs – had a triple on the home stand.
      I don’t think Baker’s playing games

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  5. I think somebody is playing games with the “health and safety protocol.” 100 years ago, if you got sick you went to the doctor and they might say “we don’t know.” Today, you don’t go to the doctor. Somebody you know goes and the doctor says you “might or might not be sick.” To be safe you need to go home and also anyone that you “might have been around” needs to also go home. If you had one or any of them had one shot, you can leave after 5 days. If someone has not had the shots, they need to stay home for 10 days. However, if anyone is home, they can hop on one foot for 1 hour and then recite “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” and return after 6 days. Provided they said “May I…………………….”

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  6. Our lead off guy walked 4 times in his first three games. He’s walked once since. From being hot to cold, Jose now sports a .679 OPS. He might want to sit next to our rested Yuli, the guy with the .443 .OBP.

    Our most talented pitcher threw a seven inning shut out. I think he still wishes he could throw more strikes. But he’s been pretty good.

    In spite of all, 14 and 12 on the month. That’s pretty good too.

    Is the the year Diaz finally plays a big role?

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    • Jose needs 1372 hits to reach 3,000. He turns 31 this week. That would be 7 years of 200 hits. It is possible but turning not probable. I love the guy and the way he plays. But when he comes to the plate and the catcher sets up 1 foot outside, we know the game. I sure wish he could get hot again because he can carry the team when hot.

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  7. Would it be inappropriate for this blog to note that the Rays threw relievers in the 7th and 8th named Richards and Head? That just feels like more trolling of the Astros from MLB.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Some Astros thoughts on May 1st:
    * Andre Scrubb looked fat and rusty, but I’m glad he is back. I think he can help the bullpen. Baker used him where he wouldn’t hurt the team to shake off the nerves and the rust.
    * The Astros started the road trip with their best hitter resting on the bench.
    * Yarbrough has hurt the Astros in the past, but had to follow Kikuchi and got battered by an Astros team who adjusted.
    * MLB’s Covid policy is entitled “Whatever 101”
    * So Weird! Yuli Gurriel has the highest BB% of his career and Brantley has his lowest. They are the team’s best batters, so far, and are two of the oldest players in the lineup
    * Peter Solomon is working his way onto this team. I never saw it coming.
    * LMJ’s ground ball percentage is 53.2%.

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  9. On one side of the scale, the Astros have played 26 games and faced 15 LH starting pitchers.
    On the other side of the scale, the Brewers have played 26 games and have faced 2 LH starting pitchers.

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    • We see the Astros moving pitchers up and down to the Alternate Site based upon need. I think the rest of MLB are trading lefties based upon who is playing the Astros next. (Only about 10 % of the population is left-handed)

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  10. This guy Fleming has been pretty good. But he’s only had three outings, throwing 84, 65 and 71 pitches. With 34 in the first inning, he won’t be around too long today.

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  11. The Astros win again and win the series. Now they go for the sweep, which has been a part of their game they have not excelled at.
    That gives them something to prove and improve on.
    The pitching has been so good the last week.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. THAT was waaay too close today. What was going on with Presley?
    I don’t know what Strom told him, but he started throwing strikes after that talk! My 12yr old grandson has started texting me during the Astros games he has MLB TV and we were both getting super nervous in that inning! He said the Rays fans were booing very loud….I could hear them listening to the radio. That will never stop, but he’s concerned about Chapman hitting Altuve in the Yankees series. I’m concerned as well….those fans are pretty hateful.
    Cross your fingers that doesn’t happen…maybe Aaron Boone has warned his pitchers about that.
    YES OP let’s go for the first sweep of the season tomorrow! Rich Hill can be very good and very bad, let’s hope he’s bad tomorrow!!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. May!
    * The Astros get a chance to play in one of the worst parks in baseball against a team that hardly has fans when there isn’t a pandemic. They won the series and have a chance for a sweep.
    * The Astros get a chance to play in one of the best stadiums in baseball, Yankee Stadium. They have always loved playing there and this will be a chance to shine in the spotlight. A series win here sends a huge message to baseball. Game 3 looks like they will face Cole. The Astros will throw their three RH starters in rotation against a predominantly RH lineup. Media everywhere.
    * Blue Jays in MMP. After the embarrassment of the series against Hinch’s Tigers, I bet the Astros will be ready to play this one.
    * Angel’s pitching may be tested here as the Astros start to find their groove.
    * The Rangers in our park without that rank Odor, which makes for a sweeter smell indoors.
    * A day off before and after the road trip, where we have a chance to crush the A’s and the Rangers.
    * The Dodgers, Padres and Red Sox get a chance to see the Astros in action in MMP to round out the month.
    Great baseball ahead and my DVR is cranked up and ready.

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  14. Well they don’t have to talk about Javier’s scoreless streak as the Rays tie it with a 3 run homer. His streak ends after 21.2 IP….

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  15. We got one back but Maldonado (the automatic out) can’t even bunt his way on. Straw 2 for 3. Must be trying to impress friends and family.

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  16. I’m not all that worried about Straw and Tucker and Maldonado. Altuve worries me though. He’s walked once since April 3. Has not had an extra base hit since April 12. OPS down to .660. Course missing 13 days could not have helped. But the old Jose was never really prone to an extended slump.

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  17. I like taking 2 out of 3 from Tampa! Story today: our guys struck out *10* times….2 errors they lost. End of story.
    Dave I’m a bit worried about Altuve as well, but let’s hope he snaps out of it and QUICK. I’ll listen to the radio guys when the guys are on ESPN this week, I don’t need to hear their announcers go on and on about “it”. I just hope our guys can get out of New York healthy and nobody gets hit.

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  18. Springer hit two home runs on Saturday – but left the Sunday game with fatigue….as a DH.
    He did grab his leg on Saturday and then started badly on Sunday before coming out…

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  19. After the loss today I got on the four-wheeler and rode around. I got busy, forgot about it and did what Becky did, which was remember that they won the series.
    They get a day off and then they try to win another series, in a town that hates them.
    I’m going to stay behind my team and support them. It’s a marathon and I want us all to endure and prosper.
    Tomorrow, the Mrs and I go to stay three days and nights in a cabin not far from here. It is supposed to be the start of a celebration of our fifty year wedding anniversary, which is in June. But is really is all about celebrating our freedom, which Covid tried to take from us and failed.
    Here is to all of you. A toast to feeling strong and happy.

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