Astros 2021: “Down the stretch” thoughts

The Astros won another series over the weekend. Like many other series wins, it included the satisfying and the unsatisfying. Still, the Astros entered Monday with 20 games left on the schedule and a 6-1/2 game lead over not one but two division rivals.

So, what is on this writer’s mind as the team toddles towards another possible AL West pennant?

Running on Empty – The Astros have a guy on second in a tie game in the 9th inning of the most important game of the year. Their hitter lines one to center field, and there will be a play at the plate. Who do you hope is on second base? Alex Bregman or Michael Brantley? Brantley is sitting out a few games with a sore knee, which kind of explains why he has been running like a guy with a sore knee lately. After “recovering” from multiple issues like hamstring pulls and other ouchies, Bregman has been running like I did when I tried to play softball with a hamstring pull and a bad back. Very gingerly. I love both these guys, and they have certainly hit well this year, when well, but boy, I’d rather have Chas or Jake out there on second in place of either of them.

Innings Management – Is it OK that Jose Urquidy or Luis Garcia or (pick one starter) does not go six innings down the stretch if Dusty allows them to stretch it out in the playoffs? The last few weeks’ biggest concern has been shorter stints by the starters, which always puts a strain on the bullpen that is good and, at times, a little shaky. Is there a master plan? Me no know.

Those Erratic Bats – In their last 22 games, the Astros have scored in double digits four times, but two or fewer runs six times. In their 13 wins in that time, they have averaged over seven runs a game. In their nine losses, they’ve averaged less than two runs a game. They seem to pile on a lot better than they can score when it is late and close. In truth, their pitching has been more consistent than their hitting along the way.

What is the Dusty Plan – No, we are not talking about how he plans to rest his regulars or use his pitchers down the line. What is his plan for himself? At his age, he doesn’t have to keep managing, but it seems like he enjoys it, and it does not seem like the front office is interested in moving him aside for a more long term manager. Is it his decision to make or theirs?

That Bullpen – The good news is that the Astros’ bullpen is better than before the trade deadline. The bad news is that it is really not a shutdown part of the team. Of course, when you get to the playoffs, they may supplement the bullpen with two of the six starters. But which ones? Framber Valdez and Urquidy have done it before, but Framber is one of the top starters now. Lance McCullers and Zack Greinke are the most likely to stay as starters. Would they move veteran starter Jake Odorizzi to the bullpen? His recent statements about getting pulled early in a start would seem to show that is a no-go. Maybe it would be Urquidy and Luis Garcia, who seem to have the right makeup to make a move.

Now it is your turn. What are your Astro thoughts today?

89 comments on “Astros 2021: “Down the stretch” thoughts

  1. That’s tough luck with Odorizzi. In spite of not being able to go 6, he has been pitching pretty well. Don’t like the thought of losing him during this stretch. Excellent work out of the pen last night. We’ll need them again tonight with Grienke starting. When does Seth Martinez get a shot? Siri is of the new generation! How soon will he get plunked? Chas has been relegated to the back of the bench. He’s the guy I feel bad for. Watch out for those Blue Jays!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thoughts…
    – For those who wanted to see Jose Siri get a call up (I think OP specifically) he certainly made an impression. First player in the history of the majors to get 4 hits and 5 RBIs in his first major league start
    – Hope Siri doesn’t get plunked – he puts on a bit of a show out there
    – Siri’s two homers were just ripped – got out so quick and hit off change ups
    -Yordan’s two HRs were two very different animals. His first one was hit so high that it was amazing how deep it went. Just kept carrying. His second home run an absolute laser to left center – thought it was going to hurt someone in the stands
    – That injury to Odorizzi was weird – usually you see a lot more awkward of a landing when the foot is injured.
    – Good to get mulitple innings out of Javier and Maton.
    – Bregman had the only home run that barely made it out – but we will take the power from him
    – Mariners hang on late to stay 6.5 back, A’s had a day off

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    • I wasn’t pressing for Siri to be called up, but I have been pressing for recognition of his status in the organization.
      Siri has been known for his streakiness. It used to be measured in years, as he would go hot/cold for months or seasons.
      This year he was on fire in May and slowed down in June/July and then was on fire again in Aug/Sept.
      The big difference in him this season is that his highs were much higher than in the past and his lows were much higher than in the past.
      His work during the pandemic was incredible to change his swing and his pitch recognition to produce these numbers.
      Now, we wait to see if he can find his level point and maintain it.
      I would describe Siri as a volatile-ability type of player.
      The Astros saw that last winter when he dominated in the Dominican winter league playoffs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In a minor move – the Astros passed Jacob Wilson through waivers unclaimed and outrighted him to Sugar Land. This makes a spot on the 40 man for Greinke as he comes back from Covid (I guess when you are on the Covid list, you don’t count against the 40 man).
    I know it is their job, but I don’t know how the front office keeps up with all the odd-wad nuances of these times – with roster rules and the Covid list and all. I guess they have people assigned just to keep this straight day to day.

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  4. As we go down the stretch, I think the Astros leading the American League in team ERA is a bigger deal than people around the country make of it.

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    • It’s a pretty big deal, but for people who don’t like ERA we could also tout the fact that the Astros have allowed the fewest runs in the AL and only 3 NL teams have allowed fewer thus far. We can then tell everyone that only 2 AL teams have scored more runs than the Astros and they’ll probably agree that’s pretty good too!

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  5. Well the Astros overcame the “we’ve never seen this guy before” syndrome last night as they drilled Spencer Howard for 6 runs in 1.1. innings. They also drilled rookie A.J. Alexy, who they saw for the first time for 6 runs in 3.2 IP.
    Tonight they are back to the devil they know in former Astro Jordan Lyles.
    They are 1-1 against Lyles this year, losing a game where he went 6 innings and gave up 4 runs and winning a game where he went 4.1 innings and gave up 5 runs.
    Lyles has always been enigma. He is coming off a stretch where he pitched well in 3 of the last 4 starts. 7 innings and 1 run, 6.2 innings and 3 runs and 7 innings and 1 run…..oh and squeezed in there 3.2 innings and 8 runs.
    He’s got some league and even MLB leading statistics, but they are not good. He’s leading the AL with 174 hits and 94 ERs given up. He is leading the majors with 36 home runs allowed.
    You would think they would be licking their lips to face him, but that is when they don’t actually perform well.
    It was hard to believe that the Rangers were hot heading into last night’s game having won 6 of 7. They laid down like a lamb on Broadway if someone gets my musical reference.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My opinion – Siri has talent. He IS “flamboyant.” He covers a lot of ground with his speed and steals bases. He will get thrown out attempting to steal (a la Altuve) at the most inopportune time. He will have an 0 for a month streak followed by a couple weeks of .400+. He like Meyers deserved a shot, even if one or both are just showcasing for a trade this Winter. The only other outfielder that might be ready next year is Marty Costes. Less power and less range than Siri and/or Meyers showed this year.

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    • As we have mentioned before, it is difficult to judge those in the minors off stats sometimes. They have guys playing multiple positions. They have guys working on selective pitches, etc. They have guys working on pitch identification or attempting to learn to go to the opposite field. So we don’t really know exactly where each minor leaguer stands in the Front Office pecking order.

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  7. Was re-watching some of the game from last night and had to have a giggle. Charlie Culberson (who pitched better than every pitcher before him) was the position player they Rangers used to end the game. Was throwing in the low 90’s – had pretty good control, etc.
    When he came off the mound he pulled off his cap and started trying to offer it to the umps to check. He looked a little taken aback that they weren’t interested. Made me laugh.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Dan P – asked a question that got answered on the mlbtraderumors Jotcast …..which also includes the information on Odorizzi going on the IL

    Dan P
    2:32 What would an Astros 4 man playoff rotation look like, especially if Odorizzi’s foot injury keeps him out? Framber, McCullers, Greinke and Garcia with Urquidy in the pen?

    Steve Adams
    2:32 They literally just put Odorizzi on the injured list about a minute ago.
    I’m assuming McCullers, Greinke, Garcia and Framber, yeah. Not necessarily in that order. They did some tandem starts in the playoffs last year, too, so I wouldn’t entirely rule that out.

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    • Well I guess turnabout is fair play. World beaters last night and couldn’t beat a single a team tonight. Zack ain’t got it tonight for sure.

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  9. That’s enough for me. I hope we win while I sleep. What’s up with Lyles? A 1.44 lifetime WHIP? A guy blessed with an arm and good health who at 30 has made 30 million dollars for his 5.20 something career ERA? He just shows up when he wants to? Shame on him. Shame on the guys that keep paying him, but most of all, shame on the Astros again tonight for their lack of focus at the plate against a chump.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Observations:
    1. Zack tried to come back too soon. That was an embarrassment to a pitcher of his pedigree.
    2. The offense was still hung-over from the night before.
    3. Jordan Lyles is not Cy Young, but he played him on TV last night.
    4. Of course, with the way the Astros hitters flailed in that game, they could have made Robel Garcia look like Cy Young.

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  11. Astros #24 Prospect Freudis Nova was taken out of the game in the first inning for Asheville last night with a knee injury.
    #13 Prospect, Yainer Diaz continued his torrid hitting as he was 2 for 5 with no strikeouts, a double and an RBI as the DH for Asheville.
    Jeremy Pena continued his huge September for the Skeeters. He was 3 for 4 as the leadoff hitter and had a HR and 3 RBIs in the win at Round Rock. Pena had no strikeouts in a game that saw the Skeeters K 13 times.

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    • I watched the replay on Nova’s injury. He was going out for a fly ball, CF Daniels was coming in and it looked like Daniels went down to avoid a collision. In so doing, he knocked the legs out from Nova. Nova was picked up and placed on a cart to be carried off the field. I don’t want to speculate but it did not look good at all.

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      • That’s the 2nd such incident with Daniels involved. He’s a dynamic athlete, sounds like Stros on an org level need to work on communication in those instances.

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  12. Not only did the Astros get humiliated by the Rangers last night, but Jordan Lyles got payback by hitting Jose Siri for his showboating the night before.
    Lyles used a 93.3 MPH fastball to send his message.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Nothing like a fastball to the back of the hand to get your attention.
        It is funny – you can do all sorts of crap when you score a TD in football, but if you take too long to leave the batters box or if you do some kind of “look at me” things with your hands – you get to have your career threatened by a hard object coming at your body at 90+ mph. Kind of goofy when you think about it. I don’t like the showboating in any of the sports, but I don’t like hit by pitches used as control.

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      • I agree – it’s even more of a head scratcher when you consider the majority of the times a guy scores in the NFL it’s because of what his teammates did – open big holes to run through, pulled a corner a step in to give someone space to separate, force a fumble, etc. In baseball, the only thing people can do to help their teammates hit home runs is whistle when Aaron Judge is at the plate. The hitter has to do the rest.

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    • After him spending 9 years in the minor leagues, I will cut him some slack. Hopefully somebody will settle him down, but with the way Bregman acts after a HR, it’s hard for me to find a lot of fault with a 25 year old who has definitely paid his dues to get to the bigs.
      I hope he settles in and does his job and accepts his talent as a norm, rather than an event. There are a number of guys in that dugout that he spent the year with at Sugarland and they are surely having fun playing in a major league pennant race.

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  13. Down the Stretch Thoughts: Yes, stretching is very important, especially for Bregman. We can’t afford for him or any of the older guys (Yuli, Brantley) to pull a muscle. As my Pastor says, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be broken.”

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I watched several games with Siri this year. My term is “flamboyant.” He will do it on a routine fly to deep center or a stolen base. Pedro Leon has a lot of that in him also. So my question, do you want someone who gets/looks exciting or do you want the humdrum of so many Astros? Don’t forget, Siri went to first, then stole second easily, and took 3rd on a wild pitch.

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    • The game is changing. Demonstration is becoming more the norm today. It’s a young thing to do. Sometimes I cringe. And I’m disgusted when a guy hitting .182 adds some mustard to his hotdog (that’s the old saying), but for the most part, if a guy backs it up with solid, smart play and good hustle, I’m prepared to live with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I for one enjoyed watching Siri Monday nite. Even when the Astros are winning it sometimes feel like we are watching paint dry. How about some excitement. Even an occasional argument over some disgustingly bad calls ( yes we’ve seen some) would be a refreshing change.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We could have told Oakland ALL ABOUT the Royals! No matter what their record is…the CAN and WILL defeat you! The A’S thought they would just walk in and sweep the Royals…WRONG!! And Boston is playing for a wild card so don’t look for them to lay down for Seattle.
    I have a different view about Siri….if his “show boating” his homeruns, maybe that should light a fire with this team! God knows SOMETHING should! Let’s hope Urquidy has a good start tonight…our bullpen NEEDS it!
    I have always had a soft spot for Lyles the Astros really misused him, they brought him up way too soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Minor was supposed to start for KC tonight against Oakland but is on the IL as of today and KC is bringing up a player for their pen and starting a guy from their pen in Minor’s place.

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  17. Robel Garcia was DFA’d today. That made room on the 40-man for Taylor Jones to come off the covid IL. Jones was sent back to Sugarland to take Garcia’s spot on their active roster.
    Raphael Montero was put on the 60-day IL to make room for Andre Scrubb to come back off the IL and onto the 40-man roster. Scrubb is now with Sugarland.

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  18. Sure would be great if Urquidy could settle into a long, healthy career. That’s a big question though. Does not look like Josh James throws 100 anymore. Chas had a big hit and made a play in left that Brantley would not have gotten to. Marwin hit his homer. Diaz looked sharp at short. Sometimes these rest days are frustrating, but does anyone else have a more solid bench? Is Kyle Tucker our best hitter? Michael Brantley has a .592 OPS on the season against lefties. Maybe when he comes back he should rest against them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After one month of the season, Tucker was slashing .181 BA/.238 OBP/ .610 OPS though anyone watching him knew he was hitting the ball much better than that.
      May 1st to Sept. 15th he may have been not only the best hitter on the Astros, but one of the best hitters in the majors – slashing .326 BA/ .386 OBP/ .990 OPS.
      You were talking about Brantley struggling against lefties – Tucker is slashing a good .277 BA/.322 OBP/ .856 OPS against left handers.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. It is interesting in the NL West race. The Dodgers are a +17 in the wild card race but still have not caught the Giants. Also the AL East. If the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, & Blue Jays are going to win 90+ games, somebody has to lose a bunch. Enter the Orioles at 45 games out of first.

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    • Thank you for that 45. I will endeavor to catch a few Seth Martinez innings. I’m still wondering about this guy. You know, his WHIP against righties is 0.84 with 6 BB and 51 K’s. And he’s not that bad against lefties. He’s given up 33 hits in something like 55 innings with 71 K’s overall. Seems that he throws quite a few ground balls. I can’t find out anywhere how hard he throws. I know he’s 27, but what else is wrong with him?

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    • Those ZIPS projections sure are not very impressive, but ZIPS sure has not gotten 2021 right. They are way off. One thing that sticks out is his low BABip on the season, somewhere in the .230’s.

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  20. The more seasoned guys started it off tonight and the kids kept going until it was a rout. Astros win big,12-1, and Josh James finished the game off and looked lots better tonight than he did last night.

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    • He looks more fluid and not jerking the ball. They have pared down his delivery, less moving parts, and asked him to pitch within himself. Consequently, he’s sitting 94-96. Thing is, he can always reach back for 100 mph. Last time he did that though, it landed him on IL…

      It may come down to him and Yimi Garcia as the last man roster’d for ALDS, assuming Maton is in for sure. I still believe in a solid future for James.

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    • Pretty incredible for the 29th ranked farm to win the AAA division. Go figure.

      I can name 11 guys who could have debuted this year, too, if it weren’t for being blocked in HOU. That list will double after next year. So the future is pretty bright actually, not even counting the 4 incredible Cubans slated to be drafted next Summer. Plus, we finally get 1st and 2nd round picks again!

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  21. Very pleased to see a 7 run inning last night, chasing that pest Otto kid that made us look so bad last time in Houston. Let’s beat the Arizona guys three times and take some real ownership of this division. If TB is capable of a brief stumble, we’ve still got a shot if we are within a couple of games going into the last series.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I like what you are doing there Dave B – looking up to the Rays and not looking back to the A’s and M’s.
    As Satchel Paige famously said “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I know Becky is watching the scoreboard every night hoping for A’s losses, but quite frankly I’m hoping they and Toronto win and the Yankees/Red Sox lose. Everyone benefits if TBS and FOX don’t have the choice of broadcasting games for either NYY or BOS. It’s absurd watching a 2:00PM game from Oakland so we can get an 8:30PM game in NY. However, this clearly depends upon the Astros also winning.

    Also, I’m really hoping the Dodgers and Giants tie for the division lead after 162 games.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Astros will have some interesting decisions to make involving the minor league catching position this winter.
      They already made decision #1 when they shipped Lorenzo Quintana out to Miami.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Manea broke his hand. He could always opt for minor league free agency, bc we are crowded at catcher spot. But, he like Austin Hansen by being injured, may avoid being taken from us in Rule 5 in Dec. Even as packed as all MLB rosters are, I think we will STILL lose another 3 or 4 guys this year. If we roster Yainer Diaz — mixed reports on defense, huge bat — and we keep Stubbs, then that leaves Michale Papierski open and I predict he will definitely be selected. He has been ML ready defensively for a few yrs, and he started the hit the baseball earlier this season. Then, you have Berryhill, who we traded Cionel for. He has cooled off. Astros are probably letting 38th round miracle Colton Shaver go for good. Big power, terrible BA and glove.

      They even took catcher Salazar who started hitting, and converted him to 2B.

      That leaves Korey Lee (dealing with a few nagging injuries), who I believe if it weren’t for having MM and Castro signed through ’22, would debut next season sooner rather than later in the yr.

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  24. Tyler Ivey is headed to Florida to start a rehab assignment. This will give the Astros a look at his health before the season ends.
    In his first rehab game in Florida, Pedro Leon played CF. Today he is playing SS.

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    • I have no idea what to make of the Ivey situation. Reported Grade 1 tear late ’19. Battles back to debut ’21 and after leaving the game looking “fine,” it initially was reported he’d need TJ, that he didn’t “tell the team” something something. What?! Shouldn’t they have known the anatomy of it? Then two weeks ago by some miracle of God Tyler said, he felt great and wanted to pitch this yr, no surgery again.

      My main concern is we will wait yet again another X number of days, and he may still have this underlying issue. Why doesn’t the team issue a statement on the actual condition?

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      • I know where you are coming from GoStros – we have seen this a number of times with multiple teams where the player decides for alternate therapy and then ends up needing the TJ. I don’t get kickbacks from surgeons but it seems like they are better to get it behind them and not lose two seasons if possible.

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