Start of the Astros’ no-excuses part of the schedule

Luis Garcia is out for the rest of the season.

  • Too bad.

Jose Urquidy is out and has not picked up the ball since he last pitched in a game.

  • So, what.

Jose Altuve has not played in a game this season due to a broken thumb and probably is a few weeks (at least) from returning.

  • Take a look around the world and bring me a real concern.

Chas McCormick returned and almost immediately was hurt again.

  • Wah Wah.

Michael Brantley was at the cusp of returning, and now he is heading back to Houston to get his shoulder examined.

  • You are breaking my heart.

Lance McCullers is at least another month from returning from the IL.

  • What else is new?

The Astros have three of their five rotation spots taken up by one guy who is an AAAA pitcher, one who had 24 innings of MLB work prior to this season, and one who had never pitched in the majors until a few games ago.

  • Here’s a quarter – go call someone who cares. (Yes, I’m old enough to remember when that saying made sense).

The writer of this post is a caring person overall, but the Astros, even in a diminished state, have a chance over the next 3+ weeks to make some hay in the baseball world. They will be playing two lousy teams for 9 games – A’s  (8-30, 3 home/3 away), White Sox (13-25, 3 away), and four meh teams for 13 games – Cubs (18-19, 3 at home), Angels (20-18, 4 at home), Twins (20-17, 3 at home), and Brewers (20-17, 3 away).

Yes, they have a tendency to play down to teams at times. This needs to be a time when they don’t. They need to kick themselves in the butt, concentrate on who is available, not who is out for the team and take advantage of an advantageous schedule.

No excuses.

59 comments on “Start of the Astros’ no-excuses part of the schedule

  1. Hensley needs to go to AAA now. It seems Dusty is going to continue with Abreu at first, even though he is next to last as a hitter in the league stats. It is baffling that he insists on him batting cleanup . I find myself hoping he’ll just strike out instead of his usual double play.


    • Larry, short of injury, Abreu will be trotted out at least until after the All Star break and only pulled if someone at Sugarland is doing things that are impossible to ignore. But yes indeed, it being a team game, the line up has got to be adjustable at some point, even if Dusty needs to get a directive from his immediate boss.


  2. I saw the Wagner kid in spring training (Billy’s son). I have to believe that he might be an improvement over Hensley


  3. Well, we can call it no excuse. But when you replace those 6 players with players that are not as good, some of them are not break-even players, well, you are probably going to play to that competition because you are only as good as that competition.

    TBH, I am more concerned about the pitching matchups.

    Game 1 is France/Kopech. Toss-up. Someone might get got, or it might be 1-0 in the fifth. Likely they will both only last 5 at the most.

    Game 2 is Bielak/Cease. Oof.

    Game 3 is Brown/Giolito. Brown probably has more potential to have a better game, but he also is the one more prone to getting blown up.

    We could easily win 2 of 3, or lose 2 of 3, or even get swept. Who knows, individual games can be prickly to pick, you can think we are going to lose Saturday, but maybe Bielak keeps it close, maybe Cease has a bad game, or maybe he is lights out but is out by the 5th and we get to the BP. You never know, but we don’t have the advantage in the pitching matchups.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was pleased to see Diaz getting work at first yesterday. I wonder if that was Dusty’s idea or not.

    If Frenchy has a hammy that will keep him out of action for a week or more, he’s a waste and maybe it’s time to examine the 40 man. If Chas needs another month, that sucks too. And if Brantley has a shoulder issue, who knows when he might or might not be back. We’ll probably find out something tomorrow.

    But right now, Frenchy is not hitting. His OPS is .593 over the last 28 days. Julks, .577, Hensley, .409. Their on base numbers are terrible too. All three guys were a big help but they’ve since gone back to being the guys they’ve been in the past.

    Is it time to bring up Kessinger or Dirden or both? Based on what they are producing right now, there’s an argument for that.


  5. 1oldpro
    MAY 11, 2023 @ 2:50 PM
    * I don’t think Altuve will be looking for a huge extension. I think he will try to finish out his career here on a decent 4 to 5 year deal at a decent AAV that he and the club work out. I think he finishes out his career as a DH.
    *The word that comes to mind to fit the Astros thus far is “wounded”.
    * The problem with the Astros right now is that they have too many below average hitters in their lineup. Maldonado, Julks, Abreu, Hensley and Diaz have been bad. Diaz probably has an excuse because he never gets multiple games in a row. But that is still just an excuse.
    * LMJ, Brantley, Altuve and Chaz should help this team when they come back.
    * A good rental reliever at the deadline would be my plan. With all the bad teams out there, one of them will trade us someone we can use for the stretch run and the playoffs. And don’t trade a top prospect for a rental reliever.
    * I’m still in on JP France.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like being an underdog. There is not one soul in MLB lamenting the Astros bad fortune. On the contrary. Vegas will start lowering our playoff odds if we sink lower, as they should. We really are a compromised club right now. But we could be in much worse shape. I’m looking forward to seeing what guys show up and make a difference. And I’m still assuming that at some point, Abreu has to wake up. It would be rare to so totally fall off the bridge and be done. I hope that’s not the case anyway! Have an excellent weekend. Hopefully France gets his first big league win tonight.


  7. Hensley may be starting to see the ball again… we will miss Dubon (can’t believe I said that) if he is out too long. Tired to death of the lack of production from the infield corners but those guys are entrenched. Need Lil’ Al to heal quick. I think someone said and I agree, it is getting close to time to examine the 40 man (cull) for some relief.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brantley is already in a funny spot for alot of his incentives. Even if he is activated today he has to play basically 4 of every 5 games the rest of the season with no short stints out to reach the back end of them. Some of the higher ones are already out of reach. They have 125 games left. The belief that he will appear in 100 of those seems a stretch.

      Averaging 4.5 PA’s in 100 games is possible for him batting 2nd. But pretty much if he wants some of that 4M he has to get on the field pretty much, now or very soon. It’s probably not crazy to think the incentives tied to 500+ PAs the ship has already sailed on. That’s 1.5M gone. The 475 and 450 are within reach if he plays 100 and 105 games, but that is tough at this point considering we know Dusty’s patterns with older or “durably challenged” players.

      I can see a world where he plays 80-85 games and ends up with none of that. Still, 12M, I won’t feel sorry for him.


  8. Latest Brantley news via

    May 12: OF Michael Brantley “shut down for a while”
    Brantley, who rejoined the team in Chicago after getting his shoulder checked out in Houston, suffered another setback on his surgically repaired shoulder. He has yet to make his season debut and was close to a return earlier in the week. But with the setback, there is no timetable set for his return.

    “He has some inflammation in his shoulder, so we’re going to shut him down for a while to try and get the inflammation out of there,” manager Dusty Baker said.

    Brantley injured his shoulder last June, had surgery in August and has been rehabbing it since. Baker has “no idea” how long he will be shut down.


    • Morning Sarge, I’m not going to count on seeing Brantley. If we get him back at any point, it’ll probably be a bonus. But in the meantime, we’ve got to start looking at making the team better without him. Maybe Dirden really is the guy we saw at Spring Training. If he keeps hitting for another month, I’ll be calling for him.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Kopech, the hot headed guy, 1 hit and 6 walks in 4.2 innings. Could have been 10 walks with some patience. But how could we ask for more from France? A grind out win for the rookie to start the series. Sooner or later, something has got to jump start Bregman and Abreu. That sure would be a boost.


  10. Happy Mothers Day! I hope all of our Chipalatta ladies get this message!

    I’m not giving up on Montero yet.

    Our biggest problem? Bregman and Abreu. These two guys have to hit. If they were hitting, we’d be better than average as a team. Bregman remains a mess and Abreu looks worse and worse.

    Our emergency starters have held up their part of the bargain. I will say though that we won’t be so fortunate with these guys all the time.

    Officially we made one error last night. A tougher official scorer might have given us four.

    It was nice of Dusty to give Diaz an at bat last night. So what’s the deal, is he our future catcher, the guy we’ll see get more and more playing time as Dana says, or is he the back up guy being used by the manager less than any guy on the club, besides Salazar, who is a waste of a roster spot?


    • As an aside, Diaz will be getting at least a full week off from catching responsibilities with Maldy catching Brown today. Diaz with the 0.3 dWAR in just 15 games. And he’s thrown out 55% of attempted steals against him. There has got to be a story here.


      • At least Diaz got some at bats today and had his first big swing. Here’s hoping for many, many more!


      • Yes Sarge, it sure was a great scene in the dugout when Diaz got his silent treatment after rounding the bases. One thing that stuck out to me in that small glimpse. Diaz is not pissed off like I am about the way he’s been handled. He’s a happy young guy playing a little bit of baseball in the majors. And the club itself is in no way concerned about losing their relevance. They are loose. They are not discouraged. They just need help. So maybe it’s time for me to back off and just see what happens with these guys. Hopefully we’ll get the crew back from their Mothers Day responsibilities and we’ll have someone to talk to!


  11. Thanks to Dave and Sarge for keeping the blog warm while the rest of us were making un Dia de las Madres. Back to back series wins? That was nice to see. Meanwhile, thank you, Yordan Alvarez, for carrying this team on your strong shoulders.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yordan is the best contract I have seen in a while. If he stays on the field he can win MVP’s and he will do it for less than 20M a year AAV. When you look at some of the other contracts out there, insane.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Weekend hot takes –

    I’ll take 2 out 3 given the pitchers we marched out. They all 3 were good, Bielak even kept em in the game but Cease is just so good on the edges. He got some calls too.

    Zone was inconsistent day to day. One day the outside edge was going pitchers way, next day you could throw a strike at the top of the zone and get no call and the next day people are getting strikes called at the shins. I don’t know if an automated strike zone is the answer, or if the umpires union is going to allow it anyway, but they have got to work on the consistency.

    We got three years of Montero and Abreu, and some 84 million. I probably would move Montero out of the 8th and get Abreu down to 6th and sit him twice a week but neither one is getting out of the funk without PT. Montero seems to be sitting at 95, last year it seemed there was some of that but there was some 98 mixed in, and I haven’t seen that. The Abreu situation sucks but Dusty really has no choice but to keep giving him 3 out of every 4 days, get the repetition, and hope a first homer will open some flood gates. To me, Abreu is behind every pitch, I do think his hands are slowing, but they got to try and get him going even if his destiny these three years include sitting on mistake pitches. There may be a point that Crane agrees to eat the salary and release him, but we are nowhere near it, probably not even 10% to it. Buckle up kiddos it could get bumpy.

    France should have been the first call and we are seeing why. Like Brown he is prone to command droughts, there have even been some in the 2 starts – but he has been good enough to get em anyway. Unlike Bielak, France has stuff. He has the stuff to get major leaguers out consistently. Bielak gives me a minor heart attack every time he floats a 91 MPH fastball in the zone. He has good movement but he has to live on the edges all the time. France can make that occasional mistake in the zone and survive from the velocity and movement.

    Brantley and Altuve can’t get here fast enough. They should be a shot in the arm. I get the concerns for Brantley, but from what I understand it’s mostly soreness and inflammation from playing a lot, hopefully it’s something that just needs to work itself out on the way to “playing shape.”


  13. * Altuve got the first hit of his rehab.
    * Sox pitch Kopech, Cease and Giolito against France, Bielak and Brown and lose the series at home.
    * Diaz will consistently not hit sitting on the bench, which is really different from Maldy consistently not hitting while being in the lineup.
    * I’m not a big Bielak fan, but I admire his perseverance.


  14. Gymnastics award night
    Academics award night
    Mothers Day brunch for large group of family
    FFA Awards night
    Sports Banquet night
    Spit out baby goat month
    Sell show calves month
    Clear trees for more pastures month
    Spray weeds for better pastures month
    Try to do everything in-between thunderstorms month
    Blog when you can month.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Our home record thus far = 8 – 11
    Our road record thus far = 13-8

    Why the disparity? Look at these slash line comparisons:

    Dubon (away – .342/.373/.829; (home – .226/.235/476)
    Pena (away – .300/.323/.769; (home – .205/.275/.700)
    Tucker (away – .293/.352/.819; (home – .246/.364/.779)
    Meyers (away – .283/.345/.722; (home – .206/.333/.674)
    Bregman (away) .231/.386/.778; (home- .176/.265/.495)

    Chaz, Maldy, and Abreu have actually been a little better at home than on the road – but none have been great either. The only two consistent ones have been Alvarez (good both at home and on the road) and Julks (no superstar like YA, but still better numbers both at home and on the road than Abreu or Bregman).


    • From a starting pitching standpoint:

      On the road Framber is 3-0 because his WHIP is 0.86, and his BAA .179; at home Framber is 0-4, because his WHIP is 1.16 and his BAA .263.

      On the road Christian Javier is 1-0; his WHIP is 0.80 and his BAA is .161; at home, he is still 2-1, but his WHIP is 1.25 and his BAA is .254.

      On the road Hunter Brown is 3-0p; his WHIP is 1.22; at home he is 1-1, and his WHIP is 1.50.

      Why are our key starters struggling so much more at MMP?


  16. A good win last night despite being “at home”. After the 1st inning Framber just could not find the plate. It was obvious he wasn’t going to make to the 5th much less than the 6th. Thus the 4 run inning put up by the Cubs. Didn’t think Dubon’s attempt to score on the double play was a smart move but I assume he was trying to make something happen. It did but the wrong result.

    Hopefully Bregman is coming out of this slump. You could see he was genuinely excited on his home run, the game winner for us. The bullpen was great and even Montero came through although it took a great play by Pena to get him out of a possible jam. He should become a mop up guy or the guy you throw out there when were down by a bunch of runs. Neris for the save pitched very well.

    Don’t know if any follow this but I can highly recommend “Stone Cold Astros” and “Sports Map Hou”. It’s always informative and entertaining.


    • Yes, Stanek was on. Neris continues to do excellent work quietly. Then there is Maton. And where would we be without France and Bielak? I’m not ready to give up on Montero either. I’ve never met a reliever that has not had to work out of a slump just like the best of hitters. Guys coming out of the pen tend to uncleknuckleget condemned pretty quickly.

      If Bregman is really coming out of his career long slump at this point, it’s a huge lift. Assuming Altuve comes back as the Altuve we know and Chas can contribute, we’ll survive Abreu for now.


  17. We are running up against a good one tonight. Lefty Justin Steele is 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, and a .214 BAA. He is a ground ball pitcher [1.27 GO/AO ratio] who doesn’t strike out very many, but manages to keep the contact soft. This will be a good test to see if Bregman and Abreu are really getting hot, or just feasted off some eminently hittable pitching.

    We are going to need Javier to be at his best.


  18. What a catch by Chas. The guys in the booth said the play had a 90% catch rate. That’s total poo poo. And that’s why I won’t be convinced that we have a better centerfielder on our roster. Baseball statistical technology can be as bad as a home plate ump.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d rather have a guy who is solid and dependable than a guy who makes flashy plays and blows the easy ones. Regardless, that was a great play at the wall and we see far more than 10% of those where the outfielder drops it or misjudges and the ball bounces away for a triple. I’m fully in agreement Chas should play more. Hopefully he can stay healthy and force Dusty to keep him in the lineup.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There is no doubt that Chas has the ability to make hard plays. It’s not the first one, probably won’t be the last one. Dude can focus no matter what it means to his body.

      I think it’s also very possible that Meyers would have made that play in an unspectacular, boring way that you wouldn’t remember because he wouldn’t have had to make a full speed, running, leaping catch.

      But don’t take that as me saying I don’t have confidence in Chas, because I do. I think he should be getting 75-80% of the innings out there until Altuve is back, and only give way some to Dubon. He is certainly a better hitter than Meyers, and if that means once every 4 games he doesn’t get to one that Jake would, so be it, I bet he has a bigger impact with the bat than that play will matter – especially for a team that is struggling to find some consistency offensively.


  19. Chaz’ new walk up song should be “I Believe I can Fly”.

    Perhaps our new promotional motto should be: “Double, Double – toil and Trouble!”

    Perhaps Mauricio Dubon should from this point on be known as ‘the Steele-Drivin’ Man’.

    And perhaps Yordan Alvarez should be given a key to the city.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fun game. That back to back to back to back doubles was impressive. A shot in the arm for a team that hasn’t been hitting extra base hits as a team at a large pace.

    Yordan is feeling it right now. It doesn’t matter if its a lefty, righty, or if they try shooting it out of a cannon if its in the zone he is punishing it. Even his foul balls are ripping the seams apart.

    I was happy to see Javier in the 6th at 81 pitches, especially because he had some bad at bats command wise. It wasn’t his best night but he got guys out when it mattered.

    Good win – and I loved the update on the new, apparently can’t miss high ceiling kid in the minors almost ready for his callup. Did I say Blummer is my favorite?


  21. Got to see a video of McCormick’s incredible catch from last night’s game. Still photos did not do it justice.
    That is two defensive highlights in two nights. Talking about Pena’s line drive dive/double play throw from the night before!


  22. I’ll have to apologize for my initial early season comments about Dubon. He’s batting .309 with an ops of 718 and he’s a pretty good defensive player. The real question is what do we do when Altuve returns? Wish he could play 1st base. If we sit him or make him an 2 – 3 day a week player that’s just not right. You know Dusty will play Altuve every day even if he’s batting sub .100. Dubon can play multiple positions so maybe he’ll be in there giving players a day off now and then.

    Thinking down the road we are likely not to have Brantley next year so that slot opens up. We’ll likely lose Tucker in 26, but we still have plenty of out fielders but no apparent heir to Tucker at this time. I suspect we’ll say goodbye to Stanek next year but I think we should try to keep Maton who’s contract expires this year. Altuve and Bregman’s contract are up after ’24. I suspect Altuve’s signing is a given but Bregman? That should be interesting.

    As for last night’s game that’s what we’re used to seeing. Hopefully we’re establishing a trend.


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