Dan’s weekend thoughts on the Astros

It is tough to know what to think as an Astros fan here in 2022. Are we supposed to be hacked off about their shortcomings or be happy about their long goings?

Well after the Astros opened up their series in Toronto with an uncharacteristic 11-7 win for their fourth win in a row, the long goings may dominate our thoughts.

  • After the Astros edged over the .500 mark by winning the last three games against the Rangers, the obvious thought was – OK, it was better than losing or splitting a series against the last-place team from Arlington (who actually look improved), but what about the big boys north of the border? Well, Friday night they kept getting off to leads and giving them up or almost up, but then they put the pedal to the metal in a 5 run sixth inning and held on to the lead to the end against a tough Toronto team.
  • After falling below the Mendoza line after the 5th game of the season, Kyle Tucker bottomed out at .085 BA after 13 games. Since then he’s been on a tremendous tear over the last 7 games hitting .423 BA with a 1.153 OPS, 2 doubles, 2 HRs and a scorching 11 RBIs. He finally got back over the .200 mark for the season on Friday and hopefully, he will not revert below that again this season.
  • Yordan Alvarez had a good start to the season interrupted by a COVID scare. He then dipped below .200 and hit bottom at .152 after his ninth game. But in the last six games, he has been on a Tuckerian tear hitting .454 BA with an OPS of 1.315, 1 double, 2 HRs, 6 runs scored and 5 RBIs. He and Tucker are a tough pair to stop when they are on a roll.
  • The Astros’ defense in Friday night’s 5th inning was as good as anyone could expect. Pena and Bregman made great stops going to their right on two shots and Tucker made a skidding catch in right center. The defense has been an underappreciated part of this team, but you cannot name a positional player who has not had a critical defensive play sometime in the first 20 games of the season.
  • The starting pitching in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers was the best I think I’ve seen by both pitchers through 6 innings. A no-no by Martin Perez and a soft end of the bat single against Justin Verlander with no walks by either pitcher was amazing. They both gave up a little in the seventh, but before that, it was a clinic on throwing strikes on the black of the plate or making the hitters look like little leaguers. Verlander’s starts this year have been Must See TV.
  • Could we ask any more from Jeremy Pena up to this point, between his defense and clutch offense? The answer is no after his 3 run homer broke up Friday’s game and left him with an AL rookie leading 10 RBIs. He really has terrific power for a skinny kid.
  • The only thing weirder than seeing George Springer in the blue uniforms of the enemy was seeing highlights of Jose Altuve in his rehab start with Sugar Land in their baby blue uniforms. Just didn’t seem right.
  • Baseball is just so weird. Ryne Stanek in his Wild Thing save on Wednesday at times looked like he had never pitched before in a 22 pitch/ 12 strike save. Fast forward to Friday and he was dominant in throwing 7 strikes in 8 tosses to the heart of the Blue Jays’ lineup.
  • The next two games will tell a little more about the Astros. It will also be awfully nice to get back Jose Altuve Monday and Ryan Pressly soon.

What are you thinking about with this team?

72 comments on “Dan’s weekend thoughts on the Astros

  1. I don’t know what to think about this club so far. The 11 runs last night sure were nice to see, but with some early patience we could have dispatched Kikuchi even earlier. Anyway, we’ve got his number.

    We knew some guys would start to hit. We’ll have a very solid 1-6 when Altuve and Brantley get back. And Pena will provide a jolt in the 7,8 or 9 slot as long as guys keep throwing fastballs to him. I think Chas is doing about what he’ll do. Siri, jury still out. Maldy looks God awful at this point. Including the playoffs, he caught 141 games last year, his most ever. He might be done.

    I feel pretty good about four of our starters. We sure need Odorizzi now, especially with Urquidy struggling mightily. Pressly needs to get healthy and stay healthy. Where would we be without Neris and Montero right now? The pen is again our biggest question mark. We don’t even have a long guy. If there is no real help in house, Click is going to have to get it elsewhere.

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  2. After the month of April, the starting line up is .290, .111, .233, .276, .224, .224, .222, .045, .214. Looks like I would expect 1 run per game from that. Let’s hope May makes those bats heat up.

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  3. This is a team that is hard to love. We can cheer for them. We can wish them well. We can hurt for them. But love them? No. That’s what we really lost when George Springer and Charlie Morton moved on.

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    • Mr. Bill you are 100% correct. I’m sure many of us are thinking the same thing. I’ve got a funny feeling that Click wants to turn the Astros into Tampa Bay Lite but to do so he has to first unload some high priced talent. (Enter Springer, Morton, Correa). I had no problem with Correa leaving other than he was the team “leader”. Morton was definitely a very good # 2 or #3 at worst, and Springer (well $25MM/year for 6 year seems like a bargain).
      I believe Becky said it best when she said (paraphrase) we lost the heart and soul of the team when he departed.
      Not sure how we will end up this year but we definitely need a change at the top of the organization and management. if we can’t get a LT deal with Tucker/Alverez in the next year you can kiss those guys goodbye and we better be drafting some pitchers and out fielders. The Atlanta Braves back in the 90’s had the unique ability to sign some journeymen players to compliment their roster and they always seemed to play way over their heads. We should be doing that but you have to have a core. “No Core 4” for us anymore. my interest is waning as I was on “vacation” this week but I usually still manage to watch a few games. Not this time, didn’t want to ruin a beautiful trip in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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  4. Niko Goodrum, age 30, in 28 PAs for the 2022 Astros:
    – 14 Ks [a 50% K rate];
    – 3 hits,1 of which was a double [a slash line of .107/.143/.291]
    – 1 BB
    – O RBI

    Putting players like Niko Goodrum on the 40-man roster, taking up space that could be given to a youngster with at least a modicum of upside potential, is an insult to the fans enough. But elevating to the bigs and starting him two games in a row is simply unforgivable. It is one of the reasons it is impossible to love this team.

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  5. The Blue Jays and Astros are trying to repeat the JV – Perez game from the Ranger series this week.
    Pitchers dominating or hitters wimping out

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  6. The Astros have to move two players off the active roster – three if they are going to activate Jose Altuve to get down to the required 26.
    The three likely are Mushinski, Martinez and Matijevic.
    This will leave them at 13 pitchers when they are allowed 14.
    About the only way they could do the 14 would be to move Goodrum or Siri down.
    Not sure what they do when Pressly returns but Blanco would seem to be the odd man out.

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      • I agree – Chas has been decent -he actually is taking a few walks, though he can still improve there. Siri after his unsustainable run at the end of last year has sunk back towards his norm. They may not send Siri down if they think they need him around to fill out the outfield, but I guess we will see.

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  7. The Mariners are coming. They, like the Blue Jays, are a significantly better team than we are this year. But hope spring eternal. As we have discovered when we were among the best teams in the league, being the best team does not mean you always win.

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  8. I might have been wrong about Myles Straw. He’s picked up where he left off last year with a .388 OBP as the leadoff hitter on the Guardians. Although he’ll never be a power hitter, he’s gotten especially good against lefties. He also leads MLB in runs.

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  9. We will start the season series with Seattle on the wrong end of a pitching mismatch – which, unfortunately is what we can expect to see all year except when Verlander or McCullers is our starter. This time it is Marco Gonzalez vs. Jake Odorizzi. Gonzalez compares to Odorizzi as follows:

    WHIP: Gonzalez – 1.50; Odorizzi – 1.67 [significant advantage M’s]
    ERA: Gonzalez – 3.86; Odorizzi 6.00 [huge advantage M’s]
    BAA: Gonzalez – .279; Odorizzi -2.83 [slight advantage M’s]
    IP/start: Gonzalez – 3.1 per start; Odorizzi – 3.2 per start [tiny advantage 4 us]
    Walks: Gonzalez – 4 in 14 IP; Odorizzi – 8 in 15 IP [huge advantage M’s]
    Ks – Gonzalez – 14 in 14 IP; Odorizzi- 9 in 15 IP [significant advantage M’s]
    HRS allowed: Gonzalez 4 in 14 IP ; 1 in 15 IP [some small advantage 4 us]

    This Astros team is so out-talented (except perhaps in relation to the Rangers, Tigers, Royals and Orioles) that it is going to have to fight tooth and nail to scratch out wins. Unfortunately, so far there has not been an ounce of fight in them.

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    • Now Mr. Bill – I certainly agree with you that the M’s have the advantage in the first game pitching matchup, but…
      Game 2 – Javier (1-0, 1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) vs Flexen (1-3, 3.38 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) you have to say solidly in favor of Houston
      Game 3 – Verlander (2-1, 1.73 ERA, 0.69 WHIP vs. Brash (1-2, 6.88 ERA, 1.82 WHIP) Huge in favor of Houston

      Now the offensive matchup is another matter and they have us by like 20 runs on the season

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      • Good point about Javier, Dan. I haven’t officially moved him into the starter role yet, since I assume it is a temporary status, due to a long stretch of games without a day off.

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      • The odd thing, Mr. Bill I was thinking we would be moving Javier into Odorizzi’s spot in the rotation at some point, but it might end up moving him into Urquidy’s spot if he doesn’t start pitching better.
        When is Lance going to start pitching off of ground that isn’t flat??

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    • Offensively here is how we match up (or not) [with Haniger out for the Ms]:

      1B* – M’s: Ty France .333/.410/.950 w/ 5 HRs and 21 RBI
      1B – Stros: Yuli Gurriel, .211/.233/.571 w/ 0 HRs and 4 RBI

      2B* – M’s: Adam Frazier, .250/.320/.650 w/ 0 HR and 11 RBI
      2B – Stros; Jose Altuve, .167/.208/.518 w/1 HR and 3 RBI

      SS*= M’s JP Crawford, .372/.462/1.090 w/ 4 HR and 10 RBI
      SS – Stros, Jeremy Pena, .211/.291/.725 w/ 4 HR and 10 RBI

      3B = M’s, E. Suarez, .215/.311/.741 w/ 2 HR and 11 RBI
      3B* = Stros., Bregman, .230/.348/.780 w/ 4 Hr and 13 RBI

      c* = M’s, Tom Murphy, .357/.500/1.036 w/ 1 HR and 1 RBI
      c = Stros, M. Maldonado, .089/.222/.400 w/ 1 Hr and 4 RBI

      RF – M’s Kelenic (Haniger on IL?), .141/.211/.508 w/ 2 HR & 8 RBI
      RF* – Stros’, Kyle Tucker, .250/.299/.737 w/ 4 HR and 15 RBI

      CF – M’s J. Rodriguez, .234/.306/.631 w/ 1 HR and 9 RBI
      CF* – Stros, McCormick, .288/.324/.753 w/ 2 HR and 4 RBI

      LF – M’s J. Winkler, .197/.340/.577, w/ 0 HR and 8 RBI
      LF* – Stros Brantley, .274/.329/.726 w/2 HR and 7 RBI

      DH – M’s, Abraham Toro, .164/.233/.546 w/ 2 HR and 6 RBI
      DH* – Stros, Y. Alvarez, .258/.352/.933 w/ 6 HR and 12 RBI

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  10. According to the chron.com (spit!!, spit!!) – we have sent down J.J. Matijevic, Ronel Blanco and Seth Martinez to get to 26 players.

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  11. Wow! A good win for the team. J-O pitches like the guy he’s supposed to be. Maybe even better. Offense good enough to win but too many RISP.

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  12. No one has been tougher on Jake than I. Even that last start I thought he was lucky more than good. I knew some crow was in order when he hit 93 multiple times in the 1st. He didn’t make many mistakes last night – he pitched well – mixed well, hit his spots and had good velocity all night. Kudos.

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  13. Weekend thoughts during the week:
    * Eugenio Suarez ended the game by swinging at ball four against a struggling pitcher and did not appear to run hard on a game ending DP.
    * Jeremy Pena has hit 5 home runs in the Astros first 23 games.
    * The Astros have scored one less run than the opposition, but are a game over .500.
    * It is hard to comprehend how poor the Astros catchers and backup players are hitting.
    * The Astros actually remind me of last year’s Mariners. Trying to figure out how they win games.
    * Maybe Verlander should talk to all our pitchers and our hitters, too!

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    • If the Astros start to hit, we’ll be a pretty good team. I did not realize Maldy was just as bad early last year. He was hitting .o91 on May 3. Does this mean he’s getting ready to break out? Sorry, I do not have a smiley face emoji.

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    • OP
      – Maybe Eugenio went to the Willie Calhoun school of attitude
      – I know Pena is tall so he does get some leverage – but he is just a skinny kid with the power to put it on the train tracks
      – The Astros have overall played a ton of close games this year – so it only takes a few bigger scoring games to skew the run differential
      – Well the Astros bench is not always bad as Dusty gives so many starters days off, but the catchers stink right now hitting
      – The Astros pitchers have pitched well enough to win at least 75% of the games, which is why the Astros have this good of a record with so few hitting
      – Man, if I were a pitcher and Verlander talked to me I would be soaking it all in and I am glad Odorizzi is doing that. He didn’t say what JV said, but my guess is he is telling him to trust his stuff, let it rip and be a lot more aggressive. He was nibbling way too much in those early starts.

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  14. https://franchisesports.co.uk/best-mlb-farm-systems-2022/

    Don’t know who these people are but I found it interesting. Number 1 is Baltimore Orioles. AAA – Norfolk (12-12), AA – Bowie (9-11), A – Aberdeen (15-5), Low A – Delmarva (6-15). So I think you could have a good farm system with only 2-4 solid prospects at each level.

    Astros AAA – Sugar Land (10-14) AA – Corpus (9-12), A – (8-13) Low A – Fayetteville (8-13). I think I know why Houston was not in Top 10.

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    • Along with crushing it – I imagine he is rolling and smoking it too…..

      So, he still can’t hit for crap, but does get walks and does have a decent slugging. Same old Jon

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      • I hate to kick the guy because an addiction can derail your life. But it is strange that the Astros paid his through last year so I guess he needs a paying job now.

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      • I’m cheering for him. He hasn’t played real baseball since 2017. With the universal DH he could be a valuable player still.

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      • Jon played in the majors in 2014 and 2015 with us and then was in our minor league system for 2016 and 2017. He then did not play anywhere I can find in 2018-2020 (he had been suspended for 100 games in 2018 due to his drug use). He played very well in the Mexican League in 2021 (.321 BA/ .503 OBP/ 1.196) in 46 games. And here he is for one last farewell.
        I wonder how much of the $10.5 MM he made off the Astros through last year he saved for a rainy day. My betting chips are on – he is living pay check to pay check and his pay checks aren’t what they used to be. Good luck Jon, I think you will need it.

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  15. Looking at today’s lineup…

    Baker… “Sit, McCormick, SIT! You’re too hot and too tired now, so cool it!”

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  16. The left-handed hitters in our line-up tonight are hitting a combined average of .270; the right-handed hitters in our line-up tonight are hitting a combined average of .185. Who would have ever thought our righties would all stink so badly?

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  17. I’m most frustrated with Yuli. He committed himself to working the count in 2021. At this point last year he had walked 16 times and struck out 11. Today he’s 2 and 12. He’s forgotten what won him a batting title a year ago. Looking at his 2021 spray chart, he hit the ball all over the field. Not in 2022. Maybe he needs his own Verlander reminder.

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  18. CV Buckner is young but he has the potential to take the crown from Angel Hernandez and Joe West for worst ump.
    On the plus side he does not pick on either team or any particular batter. In our last inning he called a ball as a strike and a strike as a ball when Altuve was up. He just seems to blow calls all the time.

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  19. Well that last series was stupid. Maldy is a good bunter but gets to hit away and flies out. Altuve who is not a good bunter, bunts into a DP.

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  20. As the announcers pointed out – Yordan starts yesterday and today with a solo home run and then in both games Peña knocks in the next two runs.
    Fun at bats to watch and Yuli had an important single and hustle home in the 6th

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  21. While spending the majority of my time on Oak Island and Skinwalker Ranch, I did skip into short views of the Astros win.
    Liked Abreu coming into the game in the ninth and got to see him throw a 100mph fastball. Waiting for him to contribute has taken forever.
    If Gurriel and Brantley continue to hit long fly balls to CF, they may eventually get a sac fly. The way the ball has been admittedly doctored down, they won’t get any homers to CF.
    Astros are 27th in team BA at .215.
    Astros are 7th in team ERA at 3.28
    Ironically, the Astros were also 7th in team ERA for 2021, with a 3.78 for the entire season. That says everything about MLB’s doctored-down baseball.

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  22. That was a great start for Christian Javier last night – and much needed! It was also an impressive close for Bryan Abreu! We didn’t get consistent offense again, but Pena got 2 well-timed hits and the ‘A-Team’ of Alvarez and Altuve both gave the hometown crowd a loud solo bomb. I’ll take it any day of the week – including Wednesday.

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  23. Verlander is through 6 scoreless innings on 80 pitches. His velo seems down at least a couple of ticks on the gun, but he’s a good enough pitcher to dominate anyway.

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    • But tonights big young lefty starter Tarik Skubal is no pushover. Good news is that he gave up 35 dingers last year, although none so far in 2022. The bad news is that he threw a 7 inning one hitter at us last June.

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  24. * The Tigers are 2-8 in their last 10 games.
    * The Astros got payback against Brash yesterday. They owe Skubal some payback, too.
    * Verlander’s 101 pitch count yesterday was according to plan, if you go by what he said after the game.
    * I’m sure Altuve will sit out today because of his injury yesterday. Baker will always take advantage of a good opportunity to sit one of his core players, especially against a Tigers team who beat his Astros like a drum last season.
    * Looking forward to seeing Maldonado and Co. destroy Skubal. Ha ha
    * Astros pitchers are tied with the Reds and Nats for most hit batters at 17, but are 21st in issuing BBs with only 72. The Dodgers pitching staff’s stats are head and shoulders above the rest of baseball.
    *Bellinger, so far, is not having a big bounce back. It’s more like “meh”. High K rate.

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  25. The powers that be in major league baseball have to be thrilled:
    The Yankees, Dodgers and Mets are ranked 1,2,3 in ESPN’s new power rankings.
    They also have the three highest payrolls in MLB.
    Who says Manfred isn’t a great commissioner?

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  26. Hey folks – thanks for your patience – I have been trying to finish a post for a couple days but work has been sucking up my spare time. Hopefully this afternoon

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  27. The Tigers are 22nd in the league in team BA; alas, we are even worse, at 25th.

    The Tigers are 19th in the league in OBP; yes, we are worse – at 23rd.

    Despite having a better BA and OBP than us, the Tigers are actually a little behind us in runs scored/per game. We have averaged 3.84; they have averaged 3.13.

    Our pitching staff has slightly better ERA and WHIP than the Tigers, and our guys are averaging giving up 3.52 runs per game while they are averaging giving up 4.17 per game.

    Summary: The Tigers have been better than their record indicates; and if they get a few timely hits, we may struggle against them again this year.

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  28. Just a note from the farm. If we are thinking Diaz is too expensive next year, Hensley might be acceptable with a bat, but not as strong with a glove. I think the Kissinger experiment is over with two years of not hitting. Perez currently is not hitting but has in the past.

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