Mid-May checkup on the Astros

Had an enjoyable astronomical weekend. Friday night, the International Space Station came overhead here in Sugar Land, and we watched it pass over. Not too exciting but a unique way to spend a few minutes. That was followed up by the blood-red lunar eclipse last night, which for once occurred at a fairly reasonable time between about 9:30 and 11 PM (If I said AM, this would be a bit problematic). Now that was quite interesting and a lot of fun to see.

But now our attention turns to the Astros, where they are and what is coming up. After their super hot 11-1 streak, the Astros have moved from pure mediocrity to a tie for the AL West lead with the LA Angels of someplace in Southern California.

So, let’s look at a few bullets related to the Astros…..

  • The Astros have the most road wins in the majors (14). Of course, they’ve also played the most road games in the majors (22).
  • They will add to that total with three more road games in Boston against the last-place Red Sox (that feels kind of fun to type), at which point they will have played 25 games on the road and only 13 at home. It is a good thing they are playing well on the road lately.
  • The Astros finally return home Thursday and play 4 against the Rangers, who have played .500 in the last 10 games to crawl out of last place in the AL West. This is a week when the way things are set up, it is just begging the Astros to continue their hot streak.
  • The Astros offense has been overshadowed by the terrific run of the pitching during their hot streak. But the team has picked up the pace since a lackluster April where they slashed .214 BA/ .299 OBP/ .668 OPS and scored just under 4 runs per game. Flash forward to May, and they are hitting .252 BA (Tied for 3rd in AL) with a .333 OBP (1st), a .802 OPS (1st) and a tad over 5 runs per game (2nd).
  • After 7 starts, Justin Verlander is 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA and a 0.679 WHIP. In his 2019 Cy Young season, after 7 starts, he was 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 0.864 WHIP. One big difference is that he had given up 7 homers in those 7 starts in 2019 and only 4 this season.
  • In his last 15 games, Jose Altuve has scored 14 runs, hit 6 HRs, and knocked in 9 runs with a beefy 1.049 OPS. One thing that sticks out is he has 8 walks along with 8 Ks in that time.
  • When Yuli Gurriel went into Washington Friday night, he hit .198 BA. Leaving on Sunday, he was all the way up to .248. In the series, he was 8 for 12 with 3 runs scored, 2 doubles, 2 homers (his first of the season) and 4 RBIs. Did he refuse to get on the team bus to the airport after the game Sunday?
  • Maybe Bryan Abreu is finally figuring things out? In May, he has thrown 6 innings with a 1.50 ERA, but only 1 walk against 10 Ks. He has great stuff, and perhaps if he keeps showing that type of control, he can slide into the Cristian Javier in the bullpen while Javier is in the rotation.

Now that the Astros are around the 20% mark of the season, we hope that they are just beginning to hit their stride. It feels right to see them at the top of the standings again.

63 comments on “Mid-May checkup on the Astros

  1. As it stands today, the Astros next nine series opponents, have sub-.500 records, with Cleveland, at 16-17, having the best chance to raise their record to above .500 by the time we play them.
    As last Saturday’s blowup against the Nats suggests, there are no guarantees. But the Astros have the chance to gain good ground on LAA, if they play well.
    The Angels next nine opponents include the Blue Jays, Yankees, Phillies, Mets and Dodgers, so it seems more difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah OP – no guarantees and it is difficult to sustain such a hot streak, but the plus side I see is that though the offense was improved it was not like they were hitting out of their minds. If the hitters pick things up like they I felt they were doing in the last few games it will give our pitchers a little more breathing move.
      And I think the bigger point is that what you said about the Angels having a bigger challenge coming. It would be nice if they slowed down a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing about yesterday’s game – Verlander was struggling so much I did not realize he had a no-no heading into the 5th inning. Talk about taking a guy for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Didn’t get to watch any of the Nationals series since my MLB subscription has a black out on their game when in DC. I did follow on “Gameday” and watched the condensed games. Lots of positives to take away. Hope we can keep it up in Beantown. I do agree that Bregman needs to move down in the lineup. Might move Tucker up but he’s playing below his potential too at present. Yordan does need more AB’s which he’d get in that #3 spot. Pitching is still super except for the Saturday hiccup but I’m not complaining. Finally decided to send down to AAA “No-Goodrum”. And although JV’s pitching great lets not burn him out before the season ends. We’ll need him at his best when we get to the playoffs which I’m counting on.

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  4. Not a very good game by our streaking Astros. The heart of our lineup went 0-13 with only a sac fly from Yuli. Scoring just a run off that bases loaded no out situation with our best bats up told the story of the game. Bregman is now hitting .216 over the last 28 days. Our excellent pitching has camouflaged his slump. It’s nice that he’s showing such a good eye, but we need him to hit in his role. Maybe having such a good April confused him. And he has been seeing pitches against mostly unremarkable talent.

    As Dusty said hast night, I hope Odorizzi did not need that stretcher. He went down like he was shot gunned. Our new shortstop looks to have his head in the game. But I want our old new shortstop back.

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  5. The is Way Way off topic. Concerning the earlier post by Sargeh. If you have a copy of your contract on your home, that establishes “Fair Market Value.” Challenge the valuation (if your appraisal district is similar to mine). I failed to do so and the second year, when I challenged, my taxes are locked in but at the higher valuation.

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  6. Astros going bat guano crazy tonight
    5 homers (Brantley, Alvarez, Tucker, Burrito and Pena) and 9 runs in the 2nd inning and then a Tucker grand slam in the 4th – 13-3

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  7. Last night the promotional slogan ‘That was Fun’ actually rang true. Now that the ‘fun threshold’ has been crossed at last, hopefully this team – and its fans – will start having ‘fun’ more often – instead of cursing under our breath, crossing our fingers, and biting our nails as we’ve been doing so far this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Last night me and Mrs. Dan P enjoyed our 42nd anniversary, so I missed all the fireworks and when I got home I found that my DVR had tried to record the game on a channel that was blacked out. I did get to see the highlights after the game. It was fun – other than Urquidy giving up 12 hits in 5 innings….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mazel tov on your anniversary, Dan. The two of you obviously married when you were … what … like 5?]

      Regarding Urquidy, unfortunately he is definitely in a funk right now. Fortunately, even a ‘funked-out’ version of Urquidy could not blow a lead as big as our heavy hitters gave him.

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      • I get the Astro guys on the MLB feed, so I don’t know what the TBS guys were saying about Urquidy. But he has been flat out bad for the past month. We’ve been winning his games in spite of him. The good news is that only 2 of his 7 starts have been at home where he has been pretty much the pitcher we love and know. But his road OPS is .950 plus and his BA against is .320 something. He is getting hit hard. But the other good news is that he appears perfectly healthy. Hopefully the cave nerds will get his pitch selection mixed up successfully.

        It was really fun watching all those balls take off in the second inning. I also noticed last night that there plenty of empty seats in Fenway. Seems the locals are not fully supporting their boys through thick and thin. Wonder how Story feels about his deal now? He’ll be getting more boo’s than Altuve pretty soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I turned on the broadcast on TBS (I think) when it was 13-3. The announcers seemed pretty upset that the Astros were winning and by such a large margin. Quite frankly, I don’t expect broadcasters to be impartial, but they had nothing good to say about Urquidy. Maybe they were just disappointed that the ballpark was quiet and the fans had no energy.

    After watching the highlights I have to say none of the homeruns hit in that second inning were on good pitches. Hopefully that doesn’t sound like a criticism of the hitters – professionals are supposed to take advantage of mistakes.

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      • This comment got tied to the wrong comment – it should have been attached to Mr. Bill’s comment about my age above

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  10. A couple comments from Dan P
    – I am fearful Bregman is hurt. He’s not hitting – only 2 hits in his last 6 games and he is fielding like someone who can’t bend over. Maybe its just a crappy field at Fenway – he’s not the only one who had problems.
    – The positive about Urquidy is that he is making the other team put it in play – no walks last night and only one strike out. But of the 28 hitters that face him last night – he gave up 12 hits and 2 home runs. Maybe he needs to be a little purposefully wild – back those guys out of there, not throw as many strikes, but he’s not getting folks to miss his pitches and that is always a formula for eventual disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In his first four seasons, Bregman was 34-10 in stolen bases. In the last three, 1-0. At the age of 28, he’s done running. He can’t. That’s rare. Since the beginning of 2020, his offensive production is far off prior career numbers. Based on the eye test, he has not been 100% healthy since back in 2019, his career year. Maybe he’s fine and will start hitting the heck out of the ball as the weather gets warmer. I sure hope so, but I become more and more dubious everyday.

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  11. The Red Sox starter Eovaldi and first reliever Prune Danish gave up 13 runs on 11 hits and Urquidy gave up 4 runs on 12 hits. Baseball can be a weird world, of course having 6 of the 11 hits leave the park had something to do with it

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  12. It is interesting that Urquidy is giving up 12.3 hits per 9 innings to lead the club now that Baez is gone. AND he is tied with Neris with fewest walks per nine at 1.1.

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  13. Tonight’s starter for the BoSox, Nick Pivetta, has a high ERA [5.08], a high WHIP [1.40], a high BAA [.256], and averages less than 5 IP per start [7 starts, 33 IP]. He’s throwing 66% strikes, though, and he doesn’t give up a lot of HRs [only 4 in 33 IP] or extra base hits in general [only 3 doubles and 1 triple in 33 IP]. He also hold baserunners well, as only 5 steals have been attempted against him and 3 of those 5 were unsuccessful.

    Summary: This guy tends to throw a lot of strikes. If we see the ball and hit the ball -and don’t do anything stupid on the bases – hopefully we’ll score enough runs for Luis Garcia to go out and get us a series win.

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  14. Years ago I said that Fiers was the worst good pitcher that I had ever seen. I would like to change that to Maldy is the worst terrible hitter with the best results I have every seen.

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    • astrocolt45, when I heard the guys note last night that Yuli was 4 for 4 lifetime against Moore, I figured Dusty was staying with Maldy to keep him behind the plate for Pressly. Whatever the reason for not pinch hitting, it worked.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Quietly Pedro Leon (just reporting and not hyping the guy) is hitting almost .900 OPS for the year. Still striking out around 1/3 of the time. Sugar Land is not playing very good ball currently as a team.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is going to get his due look. The talent is there. He is fast. He swings a hard bat. He is a five tool guy. Struggling with telling a ball from a strike. Could improve. At his age the odds are not in his favor. If you strike out 33% of the time at AAA that does not bode well for what that number will be in the big leagues.

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      • Pedro will be 24 next week. Happy Birthday Pedro! No doubt, too many strike outs. But he’s still managing a .372 OBP to go along with that .916 OPS. Maybe the odds are long, but the old kid has made remarkable progress in just a year.

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      • The good news is there are enough guys with similarly awful K-rates who have succeeded in the short term that the Astros should either get some production out of Leon or have the opportunity to trade him in one of those July moves to fill holes on the team.

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      • No difference in a K and a pop up. And better than a 6-4-3. You know, Siri is 7/43 BB/K lifetime with the big club and Chas is 34/129. And they’re already old! I feel pretty good about Pedro having a higher ceiling then either guy.

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  16. Since the team always loses the day I write something positive about them, I just want to say:

    1. What is wrong with that Altuve guy that he just can’t seem to get 5 hits in a game?
    2. What’s wrong with Dusty Baker not pinch hitting Gurriel for Maldonado in the 8th?
    3. What’s wrong with Framber in starting the game with a walk – and giving up an easy run in the first?
    4. What’s wrong Bregman and Siri, making outs at third base?
    5. What’s wrong with Neris and Pressly, not giving the position players even one opportunity to record a put-out or assist in the innings they pitched?
    6. What’s wrong with Maldy, not hustling home from second on the infield hit by Altuve?
    7. What’s wrong with Brantley, letting Altuve pass him in BA?
    8. What’s wrong with this offense – not a single home run?

    Woe is us!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I am not a person who is good at predicting what prospects will do, but when I think of Leon and his big numbers (including K’s) it takes me back to another outfield prospect.
    The other guy in 2012 struck out 156 times in 128 minor league games. Then in 2013 he struck out 161 times in 135 minor league games. He made the bigs in 2014 and still struck out quite a bit (especially 178 times in 2016), though normally not as much as those minor league seasons.
    And his name was George Springer.
    So maybe…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty cynical so I expect lots of folks who don’t need these will abuse them now that they know they are there, but there are a lot of kids out there who really can’t handle the MLB ballpark experience because of sensory issues. It’s a pretty inexpensive way to try to make the game more accessible to families in this position so it gets a huge thumbs up from me.

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      • Yeah my youngest son is on the autistic spectrum – due to his anxiety issues he was allowed to leave classes 5 minutes early to avoid the crowded hallways – he would race to the lunchroom, wolf down a sandwich and head off to the library
        It’s real

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  18. For Sugar Land, Hunter Brown had a good game tonight. 4 innings. No hits, No walks and 5 Ks. For Corpus, Enmanuel Valdez (23) continues to hit – .339 and Yainer Diaz (23) continues to hit and play catcher – .318.

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  19. So how does this guy Martin Perez suddenly become Cy Young? We’re not the only guys that have succumbed to his unprecedented early excellence in 2022. His career resume, including the minor leagues, gives no indication he might suddenly do what he’s doing. I’ve never seen a lefty throw anything that breaks so much away from a righthanded bat. The guy’s got 5 or 6 pitches all going in different directions. I think there will be more to this story.

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