The Astros’ New York/New York tour continues on Sunday after the good guys rebounded from a Thursday heartbreaker loss with a solid win on Friday behind another great start by Justin Verlander. Then they followed it with the Cristian Javier, Hector Neris, and Ryan Pressly no-hit win on Saturday. The team is now 4-1 on this nine-game run through the Yanks and Mets.
Today, based on Dan P being in control of the subject matter here – we will talk about a couple subjects of Astro interest…to me.
Kyle Tucker. Offensive problem?
This is the ultimate troll heading. Kyle is not an offensive problem, but one of his statistics demonstrates a terrible problem with the Astros’ offense. Besides being one of the best fielding right fielders in the majors, he is also one of the best hitters. He would be vying for the best hitter on the Astros except for one Yordan Alvarez, who is helped by the fact that he has Tucker behind him.
Kyle is second with the Astros with 14 HRs (T 13th in AL), second with 48 RBIs (T sixth in the AL), third with .851 OPS (14th in the AL) and first with 13 SBs (T 8th in AL). The stat that shows a big Astros offensive problem is that he has only scored 28 runs this season – tied for fourth on the Astros but tied for 48th in the AL. Lord knows where he would be if he was not unprotected in the fifth or higher spot in the lineup. And that is the rub.
Think about it. He has knocked himself in 14 times with his own home runs, so his compadres have only knocked him in 14 other times on the season. Outside his 14 HRs, he has been on base with hits 46 other times, including 12 doubles. He has taken 33 walks on the season, and he has 13 stolen bases with only getting caught once. So ignoring any time he may have gotten on base on a fielder’s choice or an error, his teammates have only knocked him in 14 out of 79 times, including an approximate 25 times where he got himself to second or third base on his own.
It doesn’t take long to figure out who is falling down here. Of the folks hitting behind him, 2021 batting champ Yuli Gurriel is hitting .127 with runners in scoring position, Jose Siri – .172, Chas McCormick an almost robust .226, Martin Maldonado – .162 and Jason Castro a Blutarsky-ish .000. One guy who is injured right now but was hitting .304 with runners in scoring position is Jeremy Pena. Maybe moving him up in front of Gurriel will help, even if it further weakens the back three in the order. Or perhaps we could get a real hitter to play catcher and possibly CF.
Note 1. Yes, I know Siri and Chas are now down in Sugar Land, but they had a lot of at bats behind Tucker on the season.
Note 2. Rather interesting that in a game where he was given a rest, Yuli Gurriel came off the bench late for a big RBI hit after seeing his sub, JJ Matijevic, hit a critical home run in the seventh inning. It was a bloop of a hit. Competition is good?
Playoffs? We’re talking playoffs?
Yes, I’m jumping ahead here, but Cristian Javier’s brilliant seven no-no innings, along with his very good performance to date as a starter, brings to mind a daisy chain of ifs. If Jake Odorizzi comes back and picks up where he left off and if Lance McCullers Jr. comes back and pitches like he’s capable, and if the Astros make the playoffs and if the Astros go to a four-man rotation in the playoffs, who would those four starters be?
YIE (Yes, it’s early), but how are these pitchers performing?
** Lance’s stats from 2021
This gets very interesting if all of these pitchers are available and pitching, as shown above. Urquidy would be the sure thing to be out in this scenario. Verlander and Framber would be the sure things to be in. Then there are decisions to be made for the next two spots.
McCullers – He would be likely in the rotation if he is healthy, performing like normal and stretched out, though remember he did have some significantly important appearances out of the bullpen in the Astros 2017 to run to the World Series and the 2018 run to the ALCS.
Javier has been excellent no matter what role they have asked him to take on since his debut in 2020. You would think the way he pitched in the starting rotation this season would have earned him a starting role in the playoffs, but who knows.
Garcia – He has been a solid addition to the Astros rotation since his debut in 2021, but he has not been that great in the playoffs and would seem to be the odd man out in a playoff rotation set-up.
Odorizzi – When he went on the IL, he had been on the best roll since he came to the Astros. He had two relief appearances with the Astros in the 2021 playoffs, one of which did not go well and one that did.
Dan P’s pick – If it’s my call – the four would be Verlander, Valdez, Javier and McCullers. This will be a crucial point to watch as the season develops.
So what are your thoughts about the two topics above?