Being a baseball fan for most of us is a battle between the two sides of our brains. There is that right side of the brain that is always knee-deep (yeah, I know that doesn’t work anatomically) in facts and stats. Then there is the left side that dabbles in the emotions of being a fan – in the fanatical depths of our being.
Today this writer is asking you to think. OK, you can let some of your emotions and love for your team in here, but the key is to use that head of yours for something other than a hat rack as my old coach used to say.
Do you think…
- That Jose Urquidy is knocking on Framber Valdez’s door as the second-best starter on the staff? Including Wednesday afternoon’s seven-inning, two-hit, no-run effort, Urquidy is 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his last 8 starts. After reportedly being part of trade talks, Urquidy went out and pitched brilliantly in stopping a potential losing streak from developing.
- Should Trey Mancini, who launched a key homer in the first bat of his first Astro start, get more at bats than Yuli Gurriel? Along with playing first base, he can also play some left field and roll into the DH spot. And he has a better bat and power than Yuli at this point.
- That Christian Vazquez should get more starts than Martin Maldonado? He was supposed to have difficulties learning his new staff, but in his first start was in perfect synch with Urquidy, who threw five no-hit innings out of the box. He hasn’t had a hit for the Astros yet, but he certainly has had many more hits than Maldy in 2022.
- That the Astros’ pitching coaches can get a better performance out of newly acquired Will Smith than he gave the Braves this year (0-1, 4.38 ERA, 1.514 WHIP)? In his first time out at the Juice Box, he almost had one pop fly go into the Crawford Boxes, followed by another pop fly that did make it, followed by a screaming line drive that Mauricio Dubon made a Superman-inspired diving catch in left centerfield. He is definitely a work in progress.
- That this trend of occasionally dropping bunts and hitting the ball the other way is here to stay? Kyle Tucker, who has been mired in a terrible slump, did both in Wednesday’s game, and the bunt single led to him riding home on Mancini’s home run, and his opposite-field double brought home couple of insurance runs. Jose Altuve has successfully sprinkled bunts back into his repertoire, and Yordan Alvarez has included a lot of opposite hits into his .300+ average this year.
- That Chas McCormick will have to move to another team to get a fair shake at playing time? His .228 BA is so-so, but his .727 OPS is decent and is positively great compared to those he has lost playing time to – Jose Siri (.542 OPS), Jake Meyers (.582 OPS), and Dubon (.585 OPS).
- That Rafael Montero is the latest example of what the Astros’ pitching coaches can do with a struggling pitcher? His ERA before he came here over 6-1/2 years and 137 career appearances were 5.64. Since joining the Astros it has been a 1.44 ERA in 49 appearances and most of the ones in 2022 have been in high leverage situations. Shades of Collin McHugh, Charlie Morton, and Will Harris.
It is your turn to put on that thinking cap and show us you don’t have (to quote Professor Kingsfield) a skull full of mush.