ChipalattAwards for April

April was a mediocre month for the Astros as they went 11-10. Their high point was a 4-1 record in the middle of the second series of the year with the D’Backs. Their low point was a 4 game losing streak that left them at 6-8 on the 23rd of April. Without being spectacular, their pitching was solid for the month (3.58 ERA), but their hitting was in the bottom third of the majors (.214 BA – 24th/ .290 OBP – 23rd/.660 OPS – 18th/ 80 runs – 21st).

Be that as it may, we are actually here to try and honor those who did well in the first month of the season.

Here is a quick chart of the Astros’ pitchers in April

Name Gm W L Svs IP ERA WHIP HR Ks/9 IP BAA OBPA OPSA IR/ IS
Justin Verlander 4 2 1 0 26 1.73 0.692 3 9.7 .161 .204 .480 0/0
Framber Valdez 4 1 1 0 20 3.15 1.400 0 7.7 .222 .345 .595 0/0
Luis Garcia 4 1 1 0 21.2 4.15 0.969 5 7.9 .205 .259 .708 0/0
Jake Odorizzi 4 1 2 0 15 6.00 1.667 1 5.4 .283 .377 .760 0/0
Jose Urquidy 4 2 1 0 19.2 5.95 1.424 4 5.9 .309 .337 .856 0/0
Cristian Javier 4 1 0 0 13.1 1.35 0.900 1 11 .196 .275 .557 0/0
Ryan Pressly 4 0 1 3 3.1 2.70 1.500 0 5.4 .300 .385 .685 0/0
Hector Neris 11 1 1 0 10.1 0.87 0.677 0 8.7 .205 .210 .421 1/0
Rafael Montero 9 1 0 1 9.1 0.96 0.964 1 14 .200 .243 .524 2/0
Phil Maton 10 0 1 0 9.1 4.02 1.393 1 6.8 .278 .395 .868 2/1
Ryne Stanek 8 0 0 1 8 2.25 1.000 1 7.9 .148 .258 .591 3/1
Bryan Abreu 7 0 0 0 9.2 4.66 1.759 1 13 .308 .400 .862 5/3
Blake Taylor 9 1 1 0 6.2 1.35 1.200 1 4.1 .160 .276 .596 6/3
Ronel Blanco 7 0 0 0 6.1 7.11 1.895 1 9.9 .296 .406 .962 6/2
Pedro Baez 3 0 0 0 2.1 11.6 3.429 0 7.7 .417 .500 1.083 0/0

Note – I added the IR (Inherited runners) / IS (Inherited runners who scored) stat for the relievers. Some interesting numbers there.

Starting Pitcher of the Month. Justin Verlander – He made a statement about how his two years off with the Tommy John surgery did not change him. He once again was pitching like the Cy Young winner he was in 2019. And he is giving off those Nolan Ryan/Tom Brady vibes about how he will likely continue as a stud into his 40s.  

Runner-up. Framber Valdez – He still struggles with his control at times, but he is tough to hit and keeps the run-scoring down, as his fine 3.15 ERA showed.

Relief Pitcher of the Month.  Hector Neris – 11 appearances in 21 games, and he was great in both ERA (0.87) and WHIP (0.677) and did not allow the one inherited runner he had to score. One wonders why he was not made the 9th inning option with Pressly out, but it does not matter.

Runner-up.  Rafael Montero – While slightly wilder than Neris, he has been equally effective in leveraged situations with a 0.96 ERA/0.94 WHIP, a save and not allowing his two inherited runners to score.

Special Recognition Award. Cristian Javier – While continuing his role as a swingman, he started once, was relieved three times and was just plain terrific as both his 1.35 ERA and his slash against (.196 BA/ .275 OBP/ .557 OPS).  

Name ABs Runs Dbls HRs RBIs BBs Ks BA OBP OPS BABIP
Martin Maldonado 48 7 1 1 4 8 18 .095 .235 .426 .115
Yuli Gurriel 67 9 9 0 4 2 10 .224 .246 .605 .263
Jose Altuve 36 2 0 1 3 5 10 .167 .268 .518 .200
Jeremy Pena 72 13 3 4 10 7 18 .222 .305 .763 .235
Alex Bregman 78 12 3 4 13 14 14 .233 .352 .791 .232
Michael Brantley 69 8 3 2 7 6 11 .290 .347 .767 .321
Chas McCormick 62 5 5 1 4 4 12 .290 .328 .748 .340
Kyle Tucker 76 6 2 4 15 6 16 .224 .277 .685 .228
Yordan Alvarez 58 12 2 6 12 9 9 .276 .373 .994 .233
Jose Siri 42 6 3 1 3 2 16 .214 .267 .624 .320
Aledmys Diaz 50 3 1 1 3 5 12 .160 .250 .490 .189
Jason Castro 22 0 0 0 0 4 12 .046 .222 .268 .100
Niko Goodrum 27 1 1 0 0 1 13 .111 .143 .291 .214

Positional Player of the Month. Yordan Alvarez – He had the 7th most at bats on the team after his Covid scare, but he still was terrifically effective with 12 runs scored, 6 HRs, 12 RBIS and a huge .994 OPS.

Runner-up. Alex Bregman – His .233 BA was nothing to write home about, but his 12 runs scored paired with 13 RBIs and his even steven 14 walks and 14 Ks spoke well about a good month for the third baseman.  

Special Recognition Award (Part 2). Jeremy Pena – For the most anticipated new comer of the year, Pena played like he belonged and what else could you ask for? First in runs scored, tied for second in HRs, fourth in RBIs – he had a very solid first month of his career.

Biggest Surprise (Positive). Rafael Montero – The guy has never really pitched this good and frankly has pitched poorly to average for the majority of his career.

Runner-up. Pena – I would have been happy with like 2 dingers and 6 RBIs in his first 20 games, but he has been better than that and on top of it has come through in a number of clutch spots including his walk-off bomb a couple weeks ago.

Biggest Disappointment.  We will skip the runner-up – let’s just give a split trophy to Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel and the two-headed non-monster of Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro.

Crazy Stats…..There are a number of them:

  • When major league hitters put the ball in play (don’t strike out) – they normally average about a .300 average on those balls. Falling way under that often shows a player who is connecting, but not hitting in luck. For the month of April the team as a whole was next to last in the majors with a .249 BABIP. This was despite being 7th in the majors with a hard hit % of 41.8% (balls hit at 95 mph or more). This included a number of players hitting in lack of luck – Altuve (.200 BABIP), Kyle Tucker (.228), Alvarez (.233), and Bregman (.232). Castro and Maldonado have hard to believe .100 and .115 BABIPs. If luck evens out there should be some changes by the end of May.
  • Yuli Gurriel led the team with 9 doubles in April, but only had 9 other hits (singles) for the month.
  • Jose Altuve missed quite a bit of time, but still, as the leadoff hitter he only scored two runs for the month and one of those was on his own home run.
  • Maldonado only had 4 hits on the month, but scored 7 runs thanks to 8 base on balls (and probably a few force outs). The question has to be – how can you walk a guy hitting .095 that many times.
  • As a friend of the blog uncleknuckle (DaveB) pointed out, Yuli, who built his great 2021 on a more patient approach, only had 3 walks the whole month.
  • Both Chas McCormick (18.7% K rate) and Yordan Alvarez (16% K) improved their strikeout rates to much better levels than in 2021.  

As usual, it is your turn to comment. Any awards you disagree with? Any new ones you want to award?

61 comments on “ChipalattAwards for April

  1. Lineup tonight

    Altuve (that’s great to see) 2B
    Brantley LF
    Bregman 3B
    Alvarez DH
    Gurriel 1B
    Tucker RF
    Peña SS
    Siri CF
    Maldonado C

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  2. Altuve gets two balls to handle in the first including one way to his right and then came up and hit a Springer special with a leadoff homer.
    Looks like the awful looking (and feeling) injury from Wednesday has not hindered him.

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  3. Pressly returns and blows the save giving up a two run long ball. 5 pitches and 4 were curve balls. I think even I could have hit that last pitch out. Everybosy seemd to know what was coming.

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  4. * A pitcher is most likely to hang a curve ball when he hasn’t pitched in a month.
    * Yordan’s single off the wall was as good an example of what MLB has done to the baseball as we have seen all season.
    * Tucker’s single was like a cue ball off the end of the bat.
    * That was a real good game for us to win.

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  5. 1OP, yes, MLB has clearly, inexplicably damaged a good baseball. They want new fans? Nevertheless, Yordan should have been on his large horse.

    That would have been the worst loss of the year. It turned into the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A couple non-award comments from me:
    1. We’re jumping on Pressly, but all he threw were curves and I’m not sure where he and Maldonado wanted that pitch that was hit out. Maldonado set up over the middle of the plate and best as I could tell didn’t give him a target. I suspect he wanted it bounced in the dirt and Pressley missed by a couple feet. I’m not sure what point there is bringing a guy back if he’s not ready to pitch.
    2. I criticized Dusty for playing for the tie instead of trying to take a lead against Toronto the other day, but last night’s game is evidence why I don’t agree with the folks in Houston who revere Hinch. Clearly the Detroit scouts missed all of last season where Tucker was approaching at-bats more like hitters would have 30 years ago instead of trying to hit HR every at bat, but shifting with the tying run on second was just begging to lose there. Given the catcher setup over the outside corner you have to wonder whether there was any communication or strategy involved at all.
    3. Pena was out in front and pulled a hanging curveball away to deep left-center. That takes a lot of strength. If he continues to barrel it up he’ll have quite a few more HR than I expected.
    4. I couldn’t find a highlight of the Alvarez almost-HR. My biggest fear with Manfred and company is that they’ll cause competitive imbalances by either manipulating the performance of the ball towards their desired result or by being incompetent and have some games/teams compete with balls which perform much differently from those in other games. The ball Altuve hit sure didn’t look like it was deadened though.

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  7. Relative to the baseball situation – I found it weird that Pena hit one almost off the end of his bat 425 feet for a homer – when he connected I did not think it was out.
    When Alvarez whacked his I thought it was long gone.
    Are they selectively using other baseballs? Are the balls not consistent? It is just weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In 2021 the SLG for all of baseball was .411.
    This season the SLG for all of baseball is .373.
    There isn’t any question about what MLB has done.
    Colorado leads MLB in BABIP, BA and SLG. That goes to show who is least affected by the new ball.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seems that in my life time the game has reinvented itself numerous times: we’ve gone from spit ball, to bean ball, to steroid spheroid,to money ball, to greaseball, to airball; now the league is trying ‘dead ball’. One day soon we’ll probably be seeing zombie ball.

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  9. Yeah after I wrote that I went back and checked a few things
    2021 AL teams average – 4.60 runs/game – .245 BA/ .316 OBP/ .731 OPS
    2021 AL teams average – 3.93 runs / game – .231 BA/ .301 OBP/ .671 OPS

    2021 Astros – 5.33 runs / game – .267 BA/ .339 OBP/ .783 OPS
    2022 Astros – 3.81 runs / game – .220 BA/ .294 OBP/ .676 OPS

    Obviously the Astros are down worse than just the ball changing – again I think a lot of that is the luck involved in BAbip

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    • The caveat is that we’ve faced only some of the league and a subset of the parks, but here are some team numbers thus far:
      Compare BA 2021 to 2022
      To Infield .079 v .063
      To Outfield .548 v .474
      In Play .307 v .257
      Not In Play .153 v .127

      221 HR, 1222 K in 21
      31 HR, 213 K in 22

      Hit Trajectory (BA) 2021 to 2022
      Ground balls .250 v .166
      Fly Balls .235 v .208
      Line Drives .635 v .628
      Bunts – haha, this is Houston we’re talking about

      We can probably blame the ball for some of that. At the same time, I’m willing to go conspiracy theorist and suggest our games against the Angels were played with balls that have higher elasticity than perhaps in other series.

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  10. The Tigers are not nearly as bad as their 8-17 record would indicate. That Brieske guy last night was a 27th round pick in 2019 with just 137 minor league innings under his belt. He’ll be pretty good. And darn, Grossman remains an annoying presence. He’s always getting in the way. All that said, our offense keeps stinking the place up but our pitching is beyond expectations. I hope our Astros go hit the ball against the Twins. That’s the only team with a winning record we’ll be playing in May, at least the way it looks right now. This long stretch of games is turning into a real opportunity.

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  11. We were talking last week about Pedro Leon. Right now he’s got the OPS up to .893 with an OBP of .398. He leads the club in RBI’s. He’s going in the correct direction. Meanwhile, Jonathan Bermudez is getting beaten up each time he goes to the mound.

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  12. The Astros playing early today starting at 3:00 – looks like the offense has a wake-up call for 4:00 or 5:00 again.

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  13. Well, that was an unlikely win. Framber hung in an gave 6 tough innings. The pen was impeccable. And then once again, we had a couple of good at bats amongst all the bad ones. I realized something today. I really don’t like A.J. Hinch. When I see him, he reminds me too much of what he could have prevented with a spine.

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  14. The Tigers are obviously struggling right now. They have some really good players. They have, however, given us – also a struggling team, at least offensively – three straight games that they clearly could have – almost certainly should have – won.

    I will not look a gift horse in the mouth. But I sure hope we are not seeing a ‘new normal’ in Astros offense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not to worry – I see Dusty is doing his best to return the ‘gift game’ favor to Detroit today. Four of the guys Dusty has penciled in to start [Pena and Gurriel are both sitting] have BAs significantly under the Mendoza line. If we don’t record 10 or more strikeouts with this line-up, the Tigers’ pitching is not just toothless, it is non-existent. Here is what Dusty is giving them to face:

      Diaz [playing ss]. 186/.262/.516
      Siri [playing cf]. .191/.255/.574 [34 Ks in 93 ABs]
      Goodrum [playing 1b]. .156/.182/.401 [ 15 Ks in 32 ABs]
      Castro [c]. .077/.226/.302 [14 Ks in 26 ABs]

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      • The only catchers in the system hitting over .199 are K. Lee in Sugar Land and 3 in Corpus. Salazar is interesting. If the Astros play in Mexico, he should be the catcher because he appears to be able to throw out over 50% of the runners down there.

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  15. Looks like a bullpen game today for the Tigers. Peralta is starting. He threw 2 innings on Thursday night. Six outs is his max on the season. Pick your poison Mr. Bill! I’m glad Martin and Yuli are sitting. I’d like Pena in there, but he will get a day off from time to time.

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    • Dave, Peralta is interesting. This is his 10th year in the league. In 6 of those years, he was a starter. Strangely, his stats this year are light years better than his career averages. He’s started striking out more than a hitter per inning – though he has never previously been much of a strikeout pitcher. His BAA is .75 points below his career average. His WHIP is 24 points less than his career average. His lifetime ERA is 4.32 – this year 0.00 in 8.1 innings. His GO/AO has always been good, but this year so far it is up to 1.80. He has yet to give up either a double, a triple, or a home run.

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      • Mr. Bill, hopefully he’ll revert to form in the inning or two that he throws today! But I’m already prepared for another low scoring snoozer. Let’s see of Odorizzi can put together another good outing and keep us in it..

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  16. Pitching remains lights out. Bats remain terrible. 7 in a row is pretty remarkable. But with a little less pitching, we could lose 7 in a row. I’m hoping the road wakes these guys up. Even Bregman, Alvarez, Tucker and others remain erratic. I though they were all getting going. False alarm.

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  17. I guess we’ll see how we fare against an over .500 team starting tomorrow. Our bats have got to do better because our pitching (which has been super) will not be able to limit the opposition to less than two runs every outing (although we’d sure like it to). Tucker, Alvarez, Bregman as mentioned by unkle-K have been slumping big time. Over our 7 games win streak Tucker (.190), Gurriel (.143), McCormick (.077), Siri (goose egg), Goodrum (another goose egg). Of course there’s Maldy and Castro but we won’t go there. Only players doing well are Pena, Diaz, and Altuve (maybe he’s finding his mojo). As a team we’re hitting .225.
    The good thing is when he decide to do just enough to win like those 8th inning rallies. Let’s keep that up. This 9 game road trip should reveal what to expect in the coming month. Would love to see us win 2 of 3 or better each stop but I’ll take a .500 trip too. Sure hope to get Jake Meyers back before the AS break.

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    • Right you are, Z. Meyers’ return will cause some gnashing of teeth, however. Dusty -and perhaps the Front Office – seem enamored by Jose Siri. Consequently they tend to disrespect, and merely tolerate, Chaz McCormick. The problem for Dusty and the Front office is that Siri just cannot seem to hit major league pitching – and though McCormick is not exactly superstar, and is probably just a reserve outfielder/late inning defensive replacement when Jake comes back, he at least always seems to contribute something offensively. Hence, Siri is slashing .180/.241/.541 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, and 18 Ks in 50 ABs.,b ut McCormick is slashing .253/.302/.720 with 2 Hr, 5 DBL, 2 TPL, 6 RBI, and only 15 Ks in 79 ABs.

      The numbers say Siri should be sent down; but we’ll see if the FO is really about numbers, or just hates McCormick/ loves Siri too much.

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      • I should point out that the ‘nuclear option’ – Pedro Leon – is slashing .237/.388/.852 with 4 HR, 8 DBLs, 1 TPL and 15 RBI. He has struck out 40 times in 120 ABs at Sugar Land. His production is teasing us – despite his low BA and high K %. Could he be worse than Siri? Could he be better than Chazzy?

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      • Nobody from the FO has called yet to ask my opinion but Siri and Leon need to play in the minors more. So pass that on to them for me please. My biggest surprise this year continues to Hensley. He historically was a .260 hitter but is pushing .300 this year. He is 26 so I think his peak would be a replacement for Aledmys if Diaz becomes too expensive for a utility bench player. And Matijevic is hitting well this year but he appears to be a player without a position. He too is 26.

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  18. The Astros have the second lowest BABIP in MLB. Despite that, they have one of the best records and are fourth in WAR.
    They are due for a breakout with their team BABIP at .249 and the league team BABIP at .282. I expect a correction from their bad luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no proof but in my opinion the BABIP is lower if a team is not making solid contact. Fangraphs says the Astros as making hard contact at the same rate as last year, but to me it sure seems like a lot more weak ground balls and pop ups.

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  19. I’m shocked that after the Yankees with 37, we’re tied for the second most homers in MLB with 36! I’m not shocked that we are bad at scoring runs (19th) though, or that our OPS is .680 (19th) and we’re striking out far more than we usually do (16th). But our friend Mr. 1oldpro offers a beacon of hope. That .249 BABIP he mentioned is 29th in all of MLB. I’m going to make two big predictions here: Maldy will come home from the road trip hitting over .100 and our BABIP will improve. Now that’s a reach!

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  20. Talking about all of our outfielders, it makes me think more and more that a solid outfield bat is what we might need most at the deadline. (We’re stuck with our catchers). Mr. Bill, without a doubt, Siri needs to play everyday and it can’t be here. McCormick might be showing us pretty much what we’re going to get, but I’d put him out there 5 or 6 days a week and see if he can reach base consistently with better pitch selection and hard contact. Jake might not be the answer either. His short stint in 2021 mirrored what Chas gave us. And how much does Brantley have left in the tank? His inability over the last couple of years to hit lefties is already showing up in 2022.

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    • If we sent Siri down to play everyday, it looks to me like it would have to be to Corpus. And either he or Dirden would have to move over to left.

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    • Hitting is dependent upon a lot of factors. If the hitter behind you is below .100 you can bet the pitcher is going to try really hard not to let you beat him. This may increase the pitches you end up chasing or putting in play that you shouldn’t. If you give a pitcher too many low stress at bats it makes it less likely he’ll throw a meatball to your better hitters. Hopefully it’s just the lack of spring training, but our top hitter thus far is Brantley at .273. Having the bad hitters in the lineup makes it tougher on the good hitters. Having fewer base runners means more solo shots and fewer big innings. The bad hitters also put our pitcher back on the mound sooner. If they’re going to trot Castro, Maldenado, and Siri out there hitting like they are you may as well ask them to just have ten pitch at bats and not worry about getting on base. It would probably improve the team results if they could do it and anger Manfred at the same time.

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  21. Focusing on the upcoming Minnesota Twins’ series:

    The Twins are 10th in the league in BA at .239; we are 27th at .217.
    The Twins are 9th in the league in OBP at .317; we are 22nd at .297.

    The Twins are 16th in the league in runs scored with 117 [avg. 4.03/game];
    we are 19th in runs with 110 [avg. 3.79/game].

    We have walked a little more than they have and hit more homers than they have; they have doubled and struck out more than we have.

    Our team WHIP is 1.10; theirs is 1.12; our team ERA is 2.95; theirs is 3.11. Our staff’s BAA is .216; theirs is .220.

    Summary: These two teams seem to match up well on paper. But the Twins have won 9 home games in a row, and are 11-5 at home overall. Home field advantage looks daunting.

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  22. I have been avoiding a lot of comments because of so many things happening up here that have affected our lives. Now is a good time to say some things.
    I don’t know why Chas McCormick has been shafted by this team, but I don’t like it.
    Jake Meyers injury was caused by a really stupid maneuver on his part and one of the most painful and dangerous career injuries I have had to watch. His ability to play the way he did before will be something I am apprehensive about because the injury was to his throwing arm. That said, I have not seen anything in Chas’s game that has shown that he is not the same guy he was last year, but getting erratic playing time is leading to his erratic hitting and I blame the organization for that.
    McCormick is not even being given the same consideration Myles Straw got last season, and McCormick has a lot more to work with than Straw had. It just baffles me that this team can’t give him a chance to get some rhythm.
    * Jeremy Pena has the most accumulated WAR on the team. He has positive grades from Fangraphs in offense, defense and baserunning. I will be pulling so hard for him to have a good series in Minne-sota.
    * Odorizzi scared me to death in his first three outings and so impressed me with his performance since then.
    * Cristian Javier is growing into a good pitcher right there in front of us all. He was smokin’ in the ninth inning yesterday. 95 mph sinkers to Cabrera.
    * It wears me out to watch Luis Garcia pitch with that windup. It’s like a four hour game in the first inning.

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  23. Regarding Jake Odorizzi, part of his recent success is probably related to who he made his last three starts against. He got manhandled by the Angels twice, and by the Mariners before Mitch Haniger’s injury. Then he started getting easier assignments – the Haniger-less, downward-spiraling Mariners, the last place Rangers, and the last placeTigers. Hopefully Jake now has his stuff working and his confidence built back up, but I’ll still need to see him succeed against a good offense before I am convinced.

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