The Astros ended the month of August with a 17-11 record, which was better than it seemed while fans were agonizing through the month. The team had ups and downs, but more ups and ended the month a solid first in the American League.
The team started the month 12 games up on the M’s and ended it 11-1/2 games up, so if the Astros play this season for a couple more years, they may cough up the division lead. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ free fall turned their two-game lead in the AL into a five-game deficit on August 31. Or optimistically, you could say the Astros flipped a two-game deficit into a five-game lead in the AL.
So, what made up this month on an individual basis?
Here is a quick chart of the Astros’ pitchers in August.
|Name||Gm||W||L||Svs||IP||ERA||WHIP||HR||Ks/9 IP||BAA||OBPA||OPSA||IR/ IS|
Note – I added the IR (Inherited runners) / IS (Inherited runners who scored) stat for the relievers.
Starting Pitcher of the Month. (Tie) Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez – Justin had better base numbers but in less innings. Framber continued his unbelievable run of 22 straight starts resulting in a quality start (at least 6 innings with 3 runs allowed at the most). Framber led in wins and innings pitched Justin in ERA, WHIP and slash against. If they can get Verlander back healthy for the playoffs, this dynamic duo will be formidable.
Runner-up. Cristian Javier – Sure, he was 2-3, but in reality, he lost one game when he was shoved back into the bullpen when he had been performing superbly and two others when he went 6 innings and gave up 2 runs and went 6 innings and gave up 1 run. He was very good in August and deserved better.
Last Month. Winner – Verlander / Runner-up – Jose Urquidy
Relief Pitcher of the Month. – Bryan Abreu – That slash against .139 BA/ .225 OBP/ .419 OPS was tremendous. A perfect 0.00 ERA and a strong 0.818 WHIP are very impressive. He did have one poor outing where he allowed three inherited runners to score. But overall, he was very good and showed why he should be given some higher leverage opportunities along the way.
Runner-up. Hector Neris – Ryne Stanek was a consideration with that gaudy ERA, but so many of his other numbers showed a guy who was driving everyone crazy with how many runners he was putting on base (2.00 WHIP, anyone?). Neris was much steadier than his late-inning compadre, Rafael Montero, and earned this runner-up spot.
Last Month – Winner – Ryan Pressly / Runner-up – Rafael Montero
Now jumping onto the offensive side, it felt like the guys who had been good in July were bad in August and vice versa.
Positional Player of the Month. Alex Bregman – He was chosen the best offensive player in the American League in August, and his numbers (27 runs, 7 HRs, and 22 RBIs, along with a team-best slash (.362 BA/ .452 OBP/ 1.133 OPS) all pointed to the rejuvenated Alex as the Astros’ top offensive player.
Runner-up. Jose Altuve – Kyle Tucker was very good; Altuve was better this month. His slash of .330 BA/ .412 OBP/ .952 OPS was top-notch, and his 12 doubles and 19 runs scored were just part of what he brought to the table. And as Jose goes, the Astros go.
Last Month – Winner – Yordan Alvarez / Runner-up – Aledmys Diaz
Biggest Surprise (Positive). Chas McCormick – It was too bad about being derailed by his finger injury because he had a very solid month happening with a .268 BA/ .349 OBP/ .778 OPS slash. And Dusty was starting to use him every time a lefty was on the other side. It was a bit surprising considering how sporadically he was being used along the way.
Runner-up. Hmmmmm – Christian Vasquez? – Not too many positive surprises on the month, but Vazquez came in on a hot streak, and even though he was being eased into a catching spot as he learned the pitchers, he did a great job when he was used.
Last Month. Winner – Martin Maldonado / Runner-up – Chas McCormick
Biggest Disappointment. Yordan Alvarez – Sure, he may well be hurt. But if he is hurt, he needs to fess up and go rest for a while. Trying to play while putting up a worse BA than Mauricio Dubon, Jake Meyers, and Martin Maldonado and trailing Maldy in OPS is not good.
Runner-up – Jeremy Pena – Rafael Montero and Jake Meyers were considered here, but Pena really fell off the cliff in August. He was showing some signs of life towards the end of the month, and hopefully, it is just a normal case of a rookie hitting the wall.
Last Month – Winner – Cristian Javier / Runner-up – Kyle Tucker
Stats of note …..There are a number of them:
- Jeremy Pena and his two walks vs. 27 Ks on the month stand out (in a bad way).
- Ryne Stanek somehow allowed a .281 BA and a .410 OBP along with his 2.00 WHIP and still kept a sterling 1.13 ERA. Makes no sense.
- You have to wonder what kind of ERAs Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier would have if they could cut down on their team-leading home runs allowed. Seven of the nine runs allowed by Javier came in on the five home runs he allowed. Nine of the eleven runs allowed by Urquidy came in on the six home runs he allowed.
- Trey Mancini’s .208 BA might be a surprise to some, but after a hot start, his hitting has slowed way down. His .213 BA for balls in play shows he may be hitting in a bit of bad luck.
- Seth Martinez, a bit like Stanek, had a decent 3.00 ERA and had stranded all three runners he had inherited despite a bit dicey .292 BA and .370 OBP against. It helps that he had not given up any home runs.
As usual, it is your turn to comment. Any awards you disagree with? Any new ones you want to award?