More “stuff” to ponder about the Astros 2021

Over the weekend, the Astros easily won two bookend games from the Toronto Blue Jays and lost the middle game when they fell behind, kept rallying and then had a bullpen meltdown bury them late.

So what’s up right now as the Astros prepare for a 3 game series against the very best team in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels. Well, they must be the best team in the division, or the press and TV reporters wouldn’t be giving them 10 times the exposure of all the other teams in the division, would they?

Some “stuff” to bat around…

  • Will Carlos Correa regret not taking the Astros up on their five-year/ $125 MM extension offer? Will the Astros be relieved that Carlos did not take them up on that offer? Now it is not always fair to judge someone after 6 weeks of the season and immediately after a 1-for-27 slump, but Correa’s slash to date (.246 BA/.294 OBP/ .715 OPS) is not that far off his slash for the mini-season of 2020 (.264 BA/ .326 OBP/ .709 OPS). He had similar numbers in 2018. In 2017 and 2019, he was much better than that but only played in 109 and 75 games. He is not playing like the $300 MM man he thinks that he is. With several shortstops hitting the FA market with him (Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons, etc.), he could be looking at a limited market anyway and certainly if he does not show better this season.
  • How good is Yordan Alvarez? Every game he plays, the stat folks come up with more comparisons with all-time greats in the game. Yesterday they were showing how he was better than Albert Pujols through the same amount of games. He is an amazing hitter at his age (23 y.o.), able to turn on the inside pitches, go the other way, take full swats, lighten up and make contact. If he ever gets some respect from the umpires, where they don’t keep extending the strike zone against him, it will be something to see.
  • Joe Smith and Brooks Raley have been struggling mightily this year. Smith’s ERA has been dropping lately from a catastrophic 14.54 to a bad 7.84 ERA. But the other measure of a reliever has not improved for Smith as he has let the last nine runners he inherited to score. Raley has been much better at keeping inherited runners off the home plate (only 1 of 8 have scored), but his ERA has been on the climb lately to a current 9.24 ERA. Smith has a terrible 2.032 WHIP powered by giving up an unthinkable 15.7 hits per 9 IPs. Raley’s numbers are almost normal in comparison (1.421 WHIP and 9.2 hits per 9 IPs). One or both of these guys have to be on the hot seat as the injured return, and talented youngsters beckon.
  • Raise your hand if you thought that Zack Greinke would be the biggest question mark in the rotation at this point in the season. His 2-1 record and 4.23 ERA are decent and not really a problem. Being pulled after 4 innings in three straight starts as his ERA has soared from 2.76 ERA is more of a concern. With the Astros bullpen, they cannot live with four-inning starts from their very expensive ace.
  • Was Kyle Tucker’s 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs a portend of better things to come? His six HRs and 20 RBIs have been solid but make one wonder where he might be after a hot streak.
  • The Ryan and Ryne show is looking pretty good so far. Ryan Pressly has been darned good at 2-0 with 6 saves and a 1.80 ERA. Ryne Stanek has become a fine set-up man option with his 1.76 ERA, one save and a great 0.723 WHIP. Fans are feeling good when either of these two gentlemen come out of the bullpen.

Coming Up…..

  • The Angels (.260 BA/ .319 OBP/ .746 OPS) have almost an identical slash to the Astros (.260 BA/ .323 OBP/ .747 OPS) while scoring a tad less (4.76 runs/game for the Angels vs. 5.06 for the Astros). It will be strange to play the Halos without Albert Pujols, who has been a thorn in the Astros’ side forever.
  • The Angels have the worst starting staff in the AL (5-13, 5.12 ERA), while the Astros are top 5 (10-9, 3.94 ERA).
  • LA’s bullpen has a 2nd worst 5.12 ERA while somehow putting up a 10-5 record. The Astros bullpen sports an 8-7 record with a 4.02 ERA.
  • The pitching matchups will be interesting for the week. With Alex Cobb going on the IL, the Angels have the famous TBD listed ahead of the game, turning into a bullpen game for the Halos against Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA). Tuesday is Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) against phenom Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA). Getaway day on Wednesday has lefty Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.11 ERA) against Jose Urquidy (3-2, 3.51 ERA). It would seem to favor the Astros, but….paper is paper.

Anyways, all things considered, what’s on your mind today?

48 comments on “More “stuff” to ponder about the Astros 2021

  1. What is on my mind about what you wrote?
    1. Paying Carlos Correa big money for slightly above average production and slightly below average availability, might really put a hurtin’ on the Astros when guys like Framber and Urquidy and Alvarez and Leon and Tucker and Javier come to arbitration. It might put the Astros in a tough position when it’s time to re-up Bregman or Altuve. It could keep the Astros from being able to afford an expensive and needed free agent in a few years. All the while, we would have to figure out what to do with the four very young shortstops we have on our Top 30 Prospects list.
    * Luhnow gave us Joe Smith and Click got us Raley. Neither of them are pitching like major leaguers right now. Maybe we could get them into AAA and let them try to find some heat and some refinement.
    * The thing that is foremost on my mind about the Astros is winning a series one at a time. In the end, the team that takes two out of three and three out of four is going to rule when a 162 game season draws to a close. Then you win every series or go home.

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  2. • Correa will not regret passing up 5 years / $125MM because he will play better by the end of the year. He won’t get close to Lindor money but I am guessing someone (not the Astros) will give him @ 7 years / $200 MM.

    • If Yordan is healthy, he will get MVP votes. In games where he had at least one hit, the Astros were 14 – 7. In games where he went hitless, the Astros were 2 – 5.

    • I thought McCullers would be the biggest question mark in the rotation. Odorizzi is the biggest question mark not in the rotation.

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    • AstroNut, I’d like nothing more than to see Carlos Correa have a career year with us in 2021. That likely gets us into the playoffs. And if someone determines he’s worth 200 million or so, I’m good with that too. But it’s far from a certainty that he’ll play better by the end of the year.

      2018 OPS+ 99
      2020 OPS+ 92
      2021 OPS+ 97

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  3. Glad I went to sleep when the game was 4-1. The Astro bats had every opportunity to put the game out of reach early. They let the Angels decimated pitching staff off the hook.

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  4. One of the more disappointing losses of the season.
    – Actually had Raley and Smith do Houdinis to not give up runs, out pitched the Angels except for that one bad half inning. Ironic in that inning they got Trout out and then crashed and burned.
    – We are seeing with Walsh why Pujols was tossed to the curb
    – The Astros’ first inning doomed them a bit as they had the one run in and runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs and could not score again.
    – Yordan all of a sudden had one of his worst games hitting ever.
    – Yuli made some great fielding plays, did a nice job hitting that opposite field double in the 9th and then ran like a Little Leaguer into the last out of the game
    – When will Luis Garcia ever get that first win?
    – Getting 5 hits and 3 walks off Suarez and only the 1 run in 4 innings was the killer.
    – Emanuel did well again, Bielak looked eminently hittable again
    – Myles Straw was the offensive hero?? with two two out RBI hits
    – 10 hits (including 6 doubles) and 6 walks should amount to more than 4 runs

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    • Pretty much nailed it Dan. Why can’t we seem to get those key hits when we need them most. Still seeing guys trying to pull the ball rather than going with the pitch. Lot’s of openings in those shifts but we seem to hit right into them. I liked Altuve’s bunt single but it was a close play. Not the best bunt in the world. Just extremely disappointed in the bull pen. I was trying to find how many “blown saves” our bull pen has and “inherited runners scored”. Found something on Baseball reference but I think we have several “holes” in our Bull Pen. LAA made some good defensive plays last night and we had some hard hit balls for outs. That’s just tough luck.

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  5. Iglesias’ pitches were really getting on the batters quickly. His 96 looked a lot faster then the triple digit (nonsense) you see posted on YouTube. Always be aware that the guns and displays in different stadiums are inconsistent and anything you see someone carrying around at amateur events are even worse. Bregman’s late swing tells you all you need to know about it. Compare that to the 85 mph fastballs the lefty was throwing a few innings earlier and it’s a huge difference.

    If we’d had 2021 Yuri during the 2020 playoffs we would have surely defeated the Rays and had another chance to beat the Dodgers in the World Series. That baserunning blunder was a gut punch, but had he stayed put we still would have been down a run with Tucker coming up…so nothing was guaranteed to be different . Hopefully we don’t look back at the end of the year on games like this that were winnable and start talking about what ifs.

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      • That was a nice rally that Lance earned for sure!

        In non-sports related news actor Norman Lloyd died. Probably best known for St Elsewhere and being the mean dean in Dead Poet’s Society – but I’m honoring him for being 106 frigging years old!!!
        He had a Hollywood Wood marriage for 75 years and was a widower for 10 years.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Becky since Ohtani hit while pitching the Angels did not have a DH. If they had pulled him as the pitcher and put him on the bench he would not have been able to hit any more. They sent him to right field and the new pitcher was put in the RFs spot in the lineup and Ohtani remained in his same spot in the lineup. If you don’t start the game with a DH you can’t add one later

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  7. Excellent mound duel. Suddenly, Lance is pitching like the ace of the staff. Geienke can’t go 8 against Ohanti right now. Tucker has the average over .200 and the OPS over.700 in the blink of an eye. Love to see that opposite field long ball. Playing with Alvarez can’t hurt.

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  8. We all want the Astros to sign our favorite players, and the amount of money be hanged. But we can learn from the Angels. Trout ($33 million), Pujols ($30), Rendon ($28 on IL), Upton ($23). So when you spend all your money on Fielders, you only have money for people like Cishek who couldn’t make the Astros bullpen or you have to bring up somebody from the minors almost every game.

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    • I guess the Angels organization should receive a trophy for some of the worst signings in baseball, and as you mentioned, nothing left for the pitching staff. Imagine what Ohtani will cost them after 2023 and beyond. I really wonder what Trout thinks about their dilemma. Yes he’ll have a boatload of money, and tons of accolades but at present no championships of any kind in the foreseeable future. I actually feel a little sorry for the guy.

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  9. The Skeeters played their first ever series as an Astros AAA farm team and went 5-1 on the trip to Albuquerque. They get a day off Wednesday and then start a six game series in Round Rock.
    Great job on the road!

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  10. Well as disappointing as Game 1 of the series was, Game 2 was that inspiring….
    – #1 had to be the great control of Lance McCullers that allowed him to get through 8 innings.
    – Nice to see Kyle Tucker hitting the ball hard and finding holes or finding seats.
    – Good to see Pressly come in and shut the door
    – The Astros struggled with hitting Ohtani, but the guy has some filthy stuff; he had not given up more than 3 hits in a start this year until he gave up 4 last night. They immediately took advantage when the Angels went to the bullpen
    – The 8th inning rally was a series of big time at bats – Maldy patiently worked the walk, Altuve though grounding into a force play ran like crazy to not be doubled up, Brantley had a terrific at bat that ended with him taking what the pitcher gave him and lining a single to center for the lead, Altuve flying home ahead of Trout’s off target throw. And Yuli with the three run dagger into the Crawford Boxes that put this one away.
    It was a tense, enjoyable game and the Astros set themselves up to win the series tonight.

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  11. Urquidy with shoulder discomfort and is day to day – but don’t count on him not missing some time
    Tucker hits a HR that looked as long as Altuve and Yuli’s HRs put together
    5-0 – hang in there bullpen and keep hitting ‘Strod

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  12. McCormick’s 3-run shot in the 8th finishes off the Angels. Astros win 9-1 and win the series.
    Might have lost one of their starting pitchers.
    Thinking that Bielak might not be a 3-inning long reliever. Two innings seems to be how long he can go before he folds up the tent.
    Astros win another series.
    Texas Rangers are in town for four. Keep the roof closed!

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    • Love me some Chas McCormick — 21st round Millersville Marauder. Overachiever!

      Bielak had a very nice bounceback. While his inconsistency is keeping him from his upside as BackEnd Starter, he is yet staving off Nivaldo Rodriguez, Shawn Dubin, Tyler Ivey and Pete Solomon as call ups. Last night, his breaking pitches were much sharper from the get-go, whereas it usually takes him an inning to get his grips.

      Seems to me lately that momentum is carrying the day. When the Astros have it, the bullpen is more relaxed and hitters are getting it done. When Tucker couldn’t find a hole, or pitchers issued walks to pitch around tough hitters, bounces were favoring the opposition. These days, there’s a confidence growing that we have some destiny on our side; or at least as Brantley said, “we have some unfinished business.”

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  13. I’m not picking on the Astros. I look at their play and then I look at the stats to back up my observations.
    The Astros are three games over .500 and trail the A’s by 2.5 games.
    They also are currently not in a position of a wild card team.
    But their run differential says they should be leading the division.
    What I notice about them that is different from the past is bases on balls. Since 2016 the Astros have led all of baseball in drawing walks and in not issuing walks. This year that is different.
    The Astros have the highest BA and SLG and OPS in baseball, but are 20 percentage points behind the leader in OBP because they are not near as patient at the plate. They are drawing a lot less walks than in the past. They are 21st in drawing walks this season, after being #1 or #2 in the last few years.
    From a pitching standpoint, the pitching staff is issuing more walks than they have in the last few years. Instead of leading MLB in fewest walks, they are 12th in that stat, leading to pitchers running up their pitch count, more baserunners resulting in more runs allowed and definitely more time spent on defense.
    On the flip side of this coin is the fact that the umps behind the plate are terrible. There have been three or four times this season where an umpires have been excellent and the rest of the time they are missing so many calls on balls and strikes. Last night the ump had the inside portion of the plate covered perfectly for RH batters and no clue where the outside part of the plate was on RH batters.
    Wouldn’t it be great if the batters and the pitchers both could trust that a strike would be called a strike and a ball would be called a ball? Why do we have to live with this terrible discrepancy in baseball?

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    • 1OP, there are indeed a few umps that are capable of calling a good game behind the plate. But ultimately, the only way balls and strikes get called accurately everyday will be by using technology.

      The run differential looks great, but when tight games are lost as a result of the pen imploding, it sure helps contribute to the mediocre won loss record. But this Astro team also does not play enough clean games. Too many mental errors. Collectively, we’re not the smartest club in the league.

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      • I agree daveb – they have made more physical and mental errors than in their better seasons.
        I will also say that they were hampered by COVID or COVID protocol hitting some of their better players. For instance they were 1-4 when Yordan Alvarez was out – Bregman missed 4 of those games when they were 1-3, and of course Altuve missed 10 games in there.
        That set them back, but they seem to be doing a better job lately.

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      • I still think we’re going to get organized and win quite a few more games than we lose. Of course we’re in flux with Urquidy right now and maybe Grienke too…just as we were planning on getting everyone back together. It’s a daily battle.

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    • Yep, the team isn’t stacked the way it was in 2020. Alvarez needs to get back to being patient. Clearly the group at the bottom of the order is hurting those numbers too. The concern I have is that we shouldn’t have much flexibility to replace guys who aren’t performing mid-summer due to our salary situation. I don’t see any help from the minors unless it’s to promote a promising arm to see what they can give us.

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      • A few early returns at altitude
        Jose Siri .440/.481/.840
        Taylor Jones .600/.692/1.050
        Jake Meyers .320/.346/.720

        Astros are already sitting Aledmys Diaz too much, and probably Chas McCormick. Why not give equal innings for one month to Diaz, McCormick and Straw, and rotate Tucker between CF and RF?

        Robel Garcia of Walk Off fame got his first start in May. Toro, DLC, Stubbs or Dawson also on first call list.

        Solomon Dubin Ivey Nivaldo & Hansen (not even on 40-man) would be pitching in any other org. Abreu, Emanuel would doubtless be starters, and now after one poor outing, some are suggesting Javier would move to pen on Odorizzi’s return? Please, no! Plus, Paredes has been ready and tuning up, not to mention Framber in a few weeks. Baez, James, Martes, Blake Taylor. I’d say depth is the least issue, and frankly the drop off is just not there either even if we lose a core player for a few weeks like Urquidy (which seems inevitable for every team)..

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