The Astros “bottom” is rising

The top of the Astros’ lineup has been very productive this season. The only hiccough was Jose Altuve’s games, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez due to COVID or COVID related protocols. Those three, plus Michael Brantley, the red hot Yuli Gurriel and the slightly lagging Carlos Correa, constitute a tough gauntlet for opposing pitchers to navigate.

The performance of the bottom three of the lineup? This has been a limitation on having a well oiled hitting machine. But each of the normal three at the bottom — Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw and Martin Maldonado — has been showing signs of life lately that bode well for the team’s offensive performance as a whole.

Kyle Tucker. Tucker is becoming the new Alex Bregman as far as crummy starts to seasons go. Last season, after 22 games, he suffered from a .193 BA/ .227 OBP/ .577 OPS slash. He then righted the ship and ended up with a solid .268/.325/.837 slash for the 60 games season. A week ago, after playing his 33rd game, his numbers were a nasty .175 BA/ .242 OBP/ .584 OPS. He somehow had pretty decent numbers in home runs and RBIs, but he was not hitting like his full 2020 season hinted he could be. But starting about a week ago in a game where he was given a gift of a triple by the home town official scorer on a hard smash that went through the first baseman’s wicket, he has been on fire.

In the last 6 games, Tucker has scored 10 runs, hit 3 HRs and knocked in 9 RBIs. His slash for the week has been a hefty .476 BA/ .560 OBP/ 1.608, which has lifted his overall slash to a less embarrassing .222/.294/.746. Even with his overall poor start, he is tied for the team lead in runs scored (25), leads in HRs (8) and is second in RBIs (25). He is a key cog in keeping the offense rolling in the 7th spot in the lineup.

Myles Straw. His improvement has been more modest than Tucker’s, and less is expected from someone who is considered a place keeper in center field, but he has looked better at the plate over the last couple of weeks and has had better results in the last few games. After bottoming out against the Blue Jays last Sunday (.204 BA/. 296 OBP/ .546 OPS) – he has had a better last four games highlighted by two 2 RBI games and a .333/ .375/.775 slash for the week. He will never be a power hitter and should not be attempting to do that, but if he can hit singles with men on base and get on base himself at a better clip, he can be a valuable part of the lineup until Jose Siri or Pedro Leon or whoever shows up.

Martin Maldonado. No one expected what has happened so far in 2021 as Martin has made Jason Castro look like an outstanding hitting catcher. While not hitting for a high average in 2020 (.215), he drew a lot of walks to get on base (.350 OBP) and showed decent power (6 HRs) while driving in 24 runs in only 47 games played. This season he was hitting like a terrible hitting pitcher. After 21 games, his slash was a miserable .091 BA/ .167 OBP/ .303 OPS, and he had no RBIs. In the last seven games, he has returned to the land of the living as he has slashed a good .292/.370/.954, scoring 2 runs hitting his first two home runs of the season and knocking in his first 5 runs of the season. This has moved him up to where he is hitting like a middle of the road pitcher with a .144 BA/ .222 OBP/ .478 OPS. Here’s hoping for a continued rise out of Martin and the rest of the Astro’s lower lineup.

No one expects the bottom of the Astros lineup to match the production of the top of the lineup, but the more times they can get on base and extend rallies, the more times the lineup flips, and that top gets another shot to inflict damage. This is a key to more consistent offensive performance out of this team.

32 comments on “The Astros “bottom” is rising

  1. I don’t know what the long term plans are, but I’d sure like to see both Castro (especially against righties ) and McCormick get more at bats. I’m not convinced McCormick is an inferior outfielder to Straw.

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  2. And by the way I wrote this post without seeing Brian McT’s post on the bottom of the lineup doing so well last night.
    And he posted before me so he didn’t get it from me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Astros take the series – can they sweep tomorrow?
    Luis Garcia gets his first MLB win.
    Tucker with the game winning HR though we did not know it at the time.
    Pressly closes it out – Abreu looked good – Stanek with his toughest outing
    They left a lot of ducks on the pond tonight

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  4. The bottom of the order is the reason the Astros have won the first three games of the Rangers series. Without their performances at the plate the Astros would be down 0-3 right now.
    The bottom four in the order scored all 4 runs in a 4-3 win
    The bottom four of the order scored 7 runs in a 10-4 win.
    The bottom four scored 4 runs on two homers in a 6-5 win.
    This a an important development for the team.

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  5. That has been lacking to this point in the season, the reason they have finally put together a decent winning streak (6 games). They are able to win with the top slumping. I hope today brings more “team” offense up and down the order.

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    • Dusty said on Friday’s wrap up that Yordan was going to get today off because his knees were a little sore from all the baserunning he had been doing because he was getting on base so much.

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  6. If you want a treat turn your radio to 790 Shane Reynolds is iN the booth with Robert Ford! Soo nice to hear his voice after all these years! And GREAT stories too!
    Dan….Dusty is trying to “baby” Alveraz because of his knees.
    Lance is starting to get his pitch count up there again…ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Watching the game on MLBTV and it’s been a clinic with TK, Blummer, and Stanton talking about how to throw certain pitches. It’s really interesting and Lance was good for 6 innings. He needs to learn to go at least 7. Scrubb comes in and gives up a two run home run. Ugh! Bats are pretty quiet. Time to wake up.

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  7. Good to see Paredes back.
    McCormick adds a bit of spark to the lineup.
    Myles Straw does have 16 RBI’s.
    The Astros played unremarkable baseball and won all 4 games.
    I hate the thought that the best hitter in MLB has chronic bad wheels.
    Raley keeps striking guys out, yet I remain dubious.
    I’m dubious of Andre too.
    Lance McCullers has stepped up. I was too hard on him.
    We’ve got some guys that are striking out too much.
    We’ve got a pretty good club.
    Every time we start a guy on the mound we’ve got a pretty good chance.

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  8. * The Rangers had a plan on pitching to the Astros. Keep everything down and miss the plate below the knees. They stuck with the plan even after the wild pitch walkoff in game 1. They lost 4 games because the Astros are better at pitching and batting and didn’t flail at pitches below the zone.
    * Here we go again, playing teams that are two time zones behind us. This crap is getting so old.
    * I believe every player in the starting lineup got at least one game off in that homestand and some of them got two.
    * At this moment, no position player on the Astros has a negative WAR. I believe that means the Astros have established a darn good bench.
    https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=20&type=8&season=2021&month=0&season1=2021&ind=0&team=21&rost=&age=&filter=&players=0&startdate=&enddate=
    * Luis Garcia has really helped the Astros so far this season. My hat is off to his efforts.

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  9. Framber is expected to start one of this evening’s games for the Skeeters in Round Rock. Odorizzi is expected to start tomorrow’s game for Sugarland, but rain could be in play.

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    • If they just roll the roof out – what wait?
      Ironic that the weather was good while the Skeeters were on the road – they come home and it shows rain every day including potential flooding Wednesday and Thursday.

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      • Here in East Texas, I normally mow the grass early AM before it gets hot. However, my new schedule is anytime it is not raining for 30 minutes, I run out and do what I can. It is so hard to mow in the dark between 2:30 and 3:00 AM.

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  10. For some reason, Jose Siri did not play in the seven inning first game for Sugarland today. Siri led all of minor league baseball with 20 RBIs before the day started and the Skeeters were 2 for 17 w/RISP in game 1, which they lost, 6-4. Siri was not hurt because he pinch ran and stole a base in that game.
    In the second game, another 7-inning affair, Siri did start and played CF. The Skeeters lost that game by a score of 5-4. All four of the Skeeters runs came on a Jose Siri grand slam. The slam gave Sugarland the lead in the top of the 6th, which was blown by a Starting Pitcher in the bottom of the seventh, pitching in a tandem, rather than using a closer to get the team a win.
    Siri finishes the day with 24 RBIs, with a BA of .429 and an OPS of 1.288

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