Astros 2019: The week before and the week ahead

The week of April 15  through April 21 in review.

The Astros roared into this week on a 9 game winning streak that they immediately stretched to a 10 game win streak with a 9-1 bashing of the Oakland A’s, which pulled them into a 1/2 game lead in the division for the first time this season. They then floundered through a 1-3 end to the road trip that left them trailing the Seattle Mariners by a game and only 1/2 game up on the Texas Rangers. The first three games of the week featured excellent starting pitching by Collin McHugh, Wade Miley and Justin Verlander. McHugh and Verlander walked away with wins over the A’s and the Rangers, but Miley was saddled with a 2-1 loss by Oakland in the wrap-up of the two-game series. The Astros then got horrendous starting pitching out of Gerrit Cole and McHugh in losing the last two games of the Ranger series 9-4 and 11-10. The team turned a churning offense of more than 6 runs a game into a not so great 2-3 week.

The week of April 22 through April 28 

In the idiotic world of baseball scheduling the Astros have had 3 off days in the last 11 days, but now get to play 24 straight days without a day off. On the plus side, the Astros get to spend the next week in the comfort of their home base as they play 7 home games against the AL Central elite Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. Considering the Astros are 6-0 at home and 7-8 on the road, this is an opportunity for the good guys to get their wheels back on the road.

The Twins are on a bit of a roll winning four of their last five games and seven of their last 10, though three of those games were against the putrid Orioles and the other seven against the so-so Blue Jays and Tigers. The Twins are 12-7 and in first place in the AL Central and have a couple familiar names with Marwin Gonzalez (not hitting so far, but look out) and backup catcher Jason Castro (not hitting and not likely). They are riding top three BA, OBP and OPS to top 5 in runs scored in the AL. Their pitching staff is smack in the middle of the AL in ERA.

The Indians are 12-9 and second in the AL Central and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They recently swept the Mariners in Seattle and then lost a series at home against the Braves. Their hitting has been horrible: bottom 2 in the AL in BA, OPS and runs scored. Their pitching has been a mixed bag of good and bad with a few more on the good side.

The Astros need to re-establish their home dominance this coming week.

Player of the Week.

They had quite a few hitters putting up decent numbers last week including Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick. But the player of the week is George Springer. He slashed .310 BA/ .480 OBP/ 1.375 OPS with 6 runs scored, 2 doubles, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs and 6 walks. He was a real weapon on the week.

Recent History.

In the magical 2017 season, the Astros were 14-7 after 21 games, just a game ahead of their current 13-8 record. They would be 16-9 at the end of April and a steamy 38-16 by the end of May on the way to a 101-61 record.

Last season the Astros were also 14-7 after 21 games, but due to starting earlier (like this season) they were all the way up to 20-10 at the end of April and a solid 36-22 at the end of May on the way to a club record 103-59 for the season.

So ….any thoughts on last week, this week or any other Astro subjects.

 

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Meet the Astros’ new ace Collin McHugh??

In 2018, two of the top five pitchers in the American League were the two best pitchers in the Astros’ rotation: Ace 1 Justin Verlander and Ace 2 Gerrit Cole. A half step behind these two lurked Charlie Morton, who would have been the ace on the 12 AL teams not named the Rays, the Indians and the Astros.

Flash forward to mid-April 2019 and the team is Morton-less, Cole is 1-2 and Verlander’s ERA is a run higher than he ended up in 2018. But have no fear Collin McHugh is here!

OK, this definitely comes under the heading of YIE.  Here is a reminder of the origins of YIE back in 2015…an acronym for Yes It’s Early which was invented here (as far as we know).

https://chipalatta.com/2015/04/27/astros-2015-yie-but-could-it-be-one-of-those-years/

Yes, it is early, but along with the return to health of Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, the other thing that should warm the hearts of Astro fans is how Collin McHugh has stepped up to pitch better than any of the other four pitchers in the rotation.

Here is a reminder of the long, strange trip that McHugh has taken to reach his current spot in the baseball world. At the ages of 25 and 26, he had a few cups of coffee with the Mets and Rockies and after a career MLB mark of 0-8 with an 8.94 ERA, he was released. At a crossroad in his career where many guys head home and get a day job, he was picked up by the Astros, the worst team in the majors after the 2014 season. He then found new life under pitching coach Brent Strom and put up two strong seasons as the #2 starter behind Dallas Keuchel (11-9 / 2.73 ERA and 19-7 / 3.89 ERA). In 2016 his ERA ticked up even more to 4.34 and in 2017 he spent the majority of the season on the DL.

When McHugh came to spring training in 2018 he had lost his place in the starting rotation but had found a slider. As a starter, he had relied heavily on his fastball, curve and cut fastball, but hitters seemed to have learned to lay off his curve and his fastball was hittable. He did not mope going to the bullpen but excelled using his new found slider to post a 6-2 record and 1.99 ERA in 58 appearances.

This season in four appearances Collin has been terrific with a 3-1 record, 1.96 ERA and 0.826 WHIP.  His 10.6 K/9 IP and 2.7 BB/9 IP are trailing Verlander and Cole a bit, but he’s only giving up 4.7 hits and 0.4 HRs per 9 IP. He lost his first game to the Rays giving up only 2 runs in 5 innings and then has had three 6 inning performance in wins, where he gave up 1, 2 and 0 runs.

Sure, over the course of the season he will likely not be the Astros best starting pitcher. But, a close imitation of Charlie Morton would be a huge boost to the Astros chances this season.

Astros 2019: The week before and the week ahead

The week of April 8  through April 14 in review.

Starting last week, the Astros had just finished taking out the broom in their sweep of the A’s that brought them back to the .500 level. Well, the broom got plenty of work last week as the Astros swept both the Yankees at home and the M’s on the road.

Heading into the Yankee series, the Astros were a 1/2 game behind the 5-4 pinstripers with a 5-5 record. At the end of the week, the 11-5 Astros were 4-1/2 games up on the 6-9 New Yorkers. In the opener, the Astros helped get Justin Verlander off a 3-1 hook with a two-run Robinson Chirinos double off Zack Britton and an eighth-inning run on a Carlos Correa squibber leading to a 4-3 win. The second game featured another rally this time from a 3-2 deficit as Michael Brantley and George Springer both had huge late inning doubles on the way to a 6-3 win. In the finale, the Astros rode 2 homers from Jose Altuve (his 3rd and 4th in 3 days) and a homer and a double from Carlos Correa to a 7-2 lead before hanging on for dear life to an 8-6 win.

The Astros jetted off to Seattle with a six-game winning streak but were facing the M’s who had a six-game winning streak of their own, which had left Houston 4 games behind in the AL West. In the first game, the Astros rode 3 big swings (2 run homer by Springer and two Grand Slams by Altuve and Yuli Gurriel) to a huge come from behind win 10-6. Wade Miley had struggled mightily, but Brad Peacock picked up the win with 3.1 innings of 1 hit, 1 run relief. The Astros then swept the series with a pair of near identical 3-1 and 3-2 wins. Both Verlander and Gerrit Cole had strong starts with six innings, 11 Ks and 0 walks each. Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna closed out with a strong inning each in both wins. On Saturday, Altuve and Chirinos had HRs and Brantley knocked in the third run for the 3-1 win. On Sunday, Brantley knocked in two and Aledmys Diaz hit his second critical HR of the season to give the Astros a sweep and bring them back to within one game of the Mariners.

The week of April 15th through April 21st 

This is what the business world calls a short week for the Astros as they follow up a day off Monday with two road games against the 10-9 Oakland A’s, another day off Thursday before finishing the road trip with three games at the (currently) 8-7 Texas Rangers. The Astros take a nine-game winning streak into Oakland and send out McHugh and Miley in the two-game set.

The Astros swept the A’s at home, but the A’s have won 4 of their last five thanks mostly to the Baltimore Orioles. The Rangers took 2 of 3 from the Astros earlier in the season and are 3-4 in their last seven games, but will likely be facing Verlander, Cole and McHugh on the weekend series.

Player of the Week: This is the easiest award to date to choose.

Jose Altuve went bat-guano crazy this week. He batted .400 BA with a 1.527 OPS. He had 10 hits, including 6 HRs, 8 runs scored and 10 RBIs. It seems like a long time ago (after game 9) when he had only 2 runs scored, 1 RBI and 2 RBIs. He now leads the team in runs, hits, HRs, RBIs, BA and OPS.

Focus on Stats

Ryan Pressly has been pretty much a revelation since coming to the Astros. After giving up 2 runs in his first 5 appearances for the Astros in 2018, he has gone 28 consecutive appearances over 2 seasons without giving up a run. In that time he has only given up 11 hits and 3 walks in 25.2 innings with 35 Ks. This season he has an 0.00 ERA and a microscopic 0.391 WHIP as he has only let 3 of 26 hitters reach base. He has helped the Astros along with Roberto Osuna to put up one of the best 8th/9th inning combos in the majors in 2019.

Astros History

The focus today is on one of the best pitchers no one ever heard of – the late Don Wilson. After making his debut at 21 in 1966, he became a hard-throwing workhorse for the Astros pitching at least 184 innings for eight straight years and showing an ERA of 3.28 or less in 6 of those 8 seasons. But due to lack of support, he only had a 104-92 record with a career 3.15 ERA.

Wilson tied a major league record at the time and set the Astros club record with 18 strikeouts against the Reds in 1968. He was the only pitcher in franchise history to post two no-hitters, 2-0 over the Braves in 1967 and then 4-0 over the Reds in 1969. The second no-hitter was a “revenge” game as Jim Maloney (who ironically also had two career no-hitters) had no-hit the Astros the game before. In September 1974, Wilson had the misfortune of having Preston Gomez as his manager. Four years earlier, Gomez had pulled his Padres pitcher Clay Kirby for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning while trailing in a game he was throwing a no-hitter. He repeated this move with Wilson in 1974 with the Astros trailing the Reds 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth and Wilson heading for a 3rd no-hitter. The Astros did not win and the no-hitter was lost in the 9th inning by Mike Cosgrove. By the way, the Astros were 16 games behind first place at the time…

Wilson would only pitch four more games in the majors, finishing with a complete game 2 hit shutout against the Braves. That January he would die in what was ruled an accident when he was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in his car inside his garage. His alcohol level was over the legal limit and his five-year-old son, who was sleeping above the garage also died. Wilson was only 29 years old.

So…. that’s a look at last week, this week, plus a bit of Astros history.

Big series preview: Astros vs. Mariners

The idea of a big series in early to mid-April just seems counterintuitive. Can a series this early tell you anything about how a season is going to turn out? The Seattle Mariners are the hottest and best team in baseball right now at 12-2. If they beat up on the Astros this weekend at home, the Astros may never recover, right?

Take a step back to the recent past. At this time last year, which AL West team was on a roll similar to the M’s? The LA Angels were 13-3 and easily in first place in the division. They had beaten up on a number of teams including going 5-2 against the Oakland A’s.  The Angels were 2.5 games up on the Astros and 7.5 games!!! up on the A’s.

Guess what. The Angels ended up the season 80-82 and 23 games behind the AL West Champ Astros and 17 games behind the Wild Card Oakland A’s. So, though this weekend’s series between the 1st place Mariners and 2nd place Astros may have great entertainment value, it is clear that even if one or the other team crushes its foe, there may be just a little time (like 90% of the season) to reverse any early season trends.

On the other hand, you need not look any farther back than the Astros 2015 surprise season to see the other side of the argument. The Astros had an early 10 game winning streak that resulted in an 18-7 record and a seven-game lead in the West. Basically, that allowed them to hold the AL West lead for most of the season and they made the Wild Card game with an 86-76 record. So, early surprise success may or may not result in a surprise season.

But for grins, let’s compare the two teams as they get ready to bump heads.

Offense

If this series comes down to offense and if each team produces on offense like they have to this point, then the Astros may as well stay home. (All stats are through Wednesday’s games).  Seattle is leading the AL in BA (.295), OBP (.373), OPS (.932), runs/game (7.86), doubles (29), HRs (34), RBIs (109) and SBs (17). One hard to fathom comparison is between the M’s 7.86 runs/ game, which is double the Astros 3.92 runs/game. Former Astro prospect, Domingo Santana is leading the league with 19 RBIs, which is more than Max Stassi, Tyler White, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick, Tony Kemp, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, Aledmys Diaz, and Robinson Chirinos…….COMBINED.  The Astros top run producer is George Springer with 10 RBIs. For the M’s, Santana (19 RBIs), Jay Bruce (13), Ryon Healy (12), Tim Beckham (11), Edwin Encarnacion (11), Mitch Haniger (10) and Daniel Vogelbach (10) all have that many RBIs or more. A lot of this is of course unsustainable. Santana is not going to have the 220 RBIs he is on pace for in a sport where Hack Wilson‘s 191 RBIs have stood up for 88 seasons. Jay Bruce is only hitting .204, but 7 of his 10 hits are home runs and he has 3 more RBIs than hits. Something has to give.

On the other side of the measure, the Astros bats after a terrible start, which saw them score only 15 runs in their first 7 games (2.14 runs/game), have warmed up and scored 6 runs/game on their recent six-game home stand which they swept. The Astros are 2nd in BA (.282) in the AL and 4th in OBP (.355) and OPS (.819), but only 9th in runs scored (51).  This is a reflection of their early inability to hit with runners in scoring position. They have almost doubled their BA with runners in scoring position to a terrible .183 after hitting a pitiful .095 a few days ago. A red hot Jose Altuve, who is 12 of 28 with 4 HRs in his last seven games has led their uptick in fortunes. They have 5 guys hitting over .300 and 6 guys with OPS over .800 and Springer along with newly acquired Michael Brantley are leading the way in driving in runs. Key points headed into the weekend will be if and how they replace Alex Bregman, who had gotten on base 21 times in the last 8 games before tweaking his hamstring on Tuesday night and what they will do with the DH spot where Tyler White has performed poorly so far this season.

Offense – Advantage – M’s

Starting Pitching

Matchups for the M’s – Astros series

Wade Miley (1-1 2.31 ERA) vs. Wade LeBlanc (2-0, 4.76 ERA)

Justin Verlander (1-0, 4.24 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (1-0, 4.26 ERA)

Gerrit Cole (0-2, 3.32 ERA)    vs. Marco Gonzalez (4-0, 3.16 ERA)

With James Paxton gone, the starting pitching was one suspect area for the M’s heading into 2018. So far, they have been solid (3.72 ERA – 7th in the league) but unspectacular. The starters have definitely been riding the tsunami of an offense to a 9-0 record on the season. Mike Leake (2-0, 2.92 ERA) and Gonzalez have been the best of the starters. LeBlanc, who pitched in 4 games for the Astros in the hell hole of 2013 has been lucky so far. Hernandez had one decent start and then left his second start after one innings with some type of virus. Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 4.15 ERA) has been solid for them.

The surprise for the Astros is that their two best starters have not been Verlander and Cole (who both could sue for non-support), but Miley and Collin McHugh (2-1, 2.65 ERA). Verlander has looked uncomfortable in his starts, struggling for pitch placement and Cole has shown great stuff and the ability to lose focus and give up just enough runs to lose. Brad Peacock (1-0, 4.63 ERA) has had one good and one bad start so far and with Thursday’s off day he is being skipped in the rotation this time around.

Starting Pitching – Advantage Astros

Bullpens

The Mariners weakest part to date has been their bullpen which has a below average 4.09 ERA for 10th in the league. As we discussed in the division wrapup a few weeks ago…

https://chipalatta.com/2019/03/28/astros-opening-day-a-look-at-the-al-west-division/

…..the M’s lost or traded four of their better bullpen arms out of a good bullpen over the off-season. As the Astros showed against the Yankees, they have the patience and talent to take advantage of a very good bullpen and right now the M’s are a good but not deep bullpen. If the Astros can force their way into the back of the bullpen they may find some gold.

The M’s new closer Roenis Elias has been excellent, retread Brandon Brennan has been untouchable, and Anthony Swarzak and Connor Sadzeck have been unscored upon. On the other hand, Zac Rosscup has been a lucky duck (5 hits including a HR and 7 walks in 4.1 IP resulting in only 1 run charged against him) and both Matt Festa and Corey Gearing have been Festa-ed upon by the opposition.

The Astros bullpen has been a real strength for the team, especially during their 6 game winning streak, except for the youngsters Josh James and Framber Valdez who have given up 9 of the 12 runs the bullpen has surrendered to date. Roberto Osuna is 4 for 4 in save opportunities with a 1.50 ERA. Ryan Pressly looks like someone who really, really, really loves the extension he was given as he has a 0.00 ERA and has only allowed 3 of the 20 batters he has faced to get on base. Will Harris is unscored upon, Hector Rondon has given up one dinger and Chris Devenski has been hittable, but has not been walking anyone.

Bullpen – Advantage – Astros

The key to the series may be if the Astros pitching staff can cool off a red hot M’s team like they just did to the Yankees in a 3 game sweep. The M’s have to be feeling unbeatable right now – they are 12-2 and playing an afternoon game against the hapless Royals (2-9) on Thursday. It may not be a “Big” series in the scheme of things, but it is likely both teams will play like it is.

Prediction – Astros take 2 out of 3

Astros 2019: The week before and the week ahead

The week of 4-1 through 4-7 in review.

The week before, the Astros stumbled out of the gate with a 1-3 road stop in Tampa. They then moved on to Arlington at the beginning of the week and further dug a hole by going 1-2 against the Rangers.

Coming home to play Oakland they needed to play well or risk being deeply buried after the first 10 games of the season.

The irony of the week is that it seemed like a slam dunk that the Astros would perform better in the two games in Arlington started by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole than the other four games they played last week. NOT!

The Astros lost the two games started by their twin aces 6-4 and 4-0. Luckily, they won both games started by Brad Peacock, the first game against the Rangers 2-1 due to Peacock’s great start and the last game against the A’s 9-8 despite Peacock’s struggling start. They also won the first two games of the A’s series for a solid sweep due to excellent starts by Collin McHugh (6 IP / 1 R / 3 hits) and Wade Miley (5.2 IP / 0 R / 4 hits), 3-2 and 6-0.

Their sleepy bats were finally waking up in the last two games of the Oakland series as they scored as many runs in those two games (15) as they had in the first 7 games of the season. Due to the Mariners hot start, the Astros at 5-5 ended the week one-half game farther back of the M’s than at the start of the week, but they certainly had to be feeling better about themselves than they did after the Ranger series.

The week of 4-8 through 4-14 in a preview.

It is hard to label anything as critical this early in the season, but the next week is important if the Astros wish to make some headway in their battle for the AL West lead.

First they host three games against the 5-4 Yankees, who like the Astros with the M’s are trailing a surprise team in the solid Tampa Rays. The Yanks also are coming off a 3 game sweep of the O’s, but certainly expected to be a bit better than 5-4 after playing 6 games against the tanking O’s and 3 against the suspect Tigers.

The Yanks have had to overcome some early season injuries and like the Astros are just beginning to have their bats warm up. This will likely come down to offense as both teams have solid starting pitching and bullpens. Then the Astros start an eight-game road trip in Seattle against the M’s, who have been a terrific offensive team to date scoring more than seven runs per game. Their pitching has been adequate, giving up about 4.5 runs per game.

The key to this series may well be if the Astros pitching can slow the M’s down at all. The 9-2 M’s will undoubtedly slow down at some point, but the Astros really need to plant a seed of doubt in their minds before they stretch out to an even bigger lead in the AL West.

Players of the Week: Two players had excellent weeks in different ways.

  • George Springer had good slash numbers: .320 BA/.357 OBP/.957 OPS and a very productive five runs scored, two HRs, one double and three RBIs.
  • Alex Bregman had unworldly slash numbers: .550 BA/.615 OBP/1.265 OPS with a little more pedestrian production numbers: three runs scored, two doubles, two RBIs.

Stat focus: One Man / One Game Baseball is just such a weird game, it is hard to describe. New Astro Aledmys Diaz entered Sunday’s game with a stat line that Bluto from Animal House could appreciate. His BA? .000; OBP? .000; OPS? .000…..0 hits, 0 walks, 0 HBPs, 0 runs, 0 RBIs, and K’s? Oh he had 4 of those in nine ABs. But on Sunday at home after sitting on the bench for 5 straight games, Diaz had two hits including a three-run homer, a career-high four RBIs and two runs scored including the walk-off game-winner. So he leaves the game with as many runs scored as Tyler White, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, and Max Stassi combined, as many HRs as White, Gurriel, Reddick, Stassi and Correa, and the third most RBIs on the team, which is more than Jose Altuve, Bregman and Carlos Correa. Just weird….

Pop Song That Should Have Been a Hit. “Someday Someway” by Marshall Crenshaw.

One of the things that seems to be missing in the modern music world are songs that reach back and pull from another era. “Someday Someway” was one of those songs that could have easily been sung by Buddy Holly, who Crenshaw resembled. It only made it to #36 on the Billboard 100 in 1982 and it is hard to figure out why. It is upbeat, energetic and just plain fun. But it was what it was.

So…. that’s a look at last week, this week, plus a look at some moldie, oldie music. All comments are welcome!!

Free Blog Weekend :The stats say it all

Today we return to a fabulous Chipalatta tradition of Free Blog Weekend. You can take the discussion anywhere you want as long as it is respectful and has some ties to the Astros or baseball.

As per normal, the blog will toss out a discussion point in case you are not feeling too original today.

Clutch Performance – Offense

If you are wondering why the Astros are 2-5 and trailing the first place 7-1 M’s by 4-1/2 games one week into the season, you really don’t have to look farther or deeper than a few stats relative to offense between the two teams.

Offense – Runners in Scoring Position (RISP)

With runners in scoring position, the Astros are last (30th)  in the major leagues with a .095 BA/ .220 OBP and are 29th in OPS (.458) and 28th in runs scored (10).

The M’s are 9th in BA (.297), 5th in OBP (.408) and 6th in OPS (1.003), but 1st in runs scored (41) when runners are on 2nd and or 3rd base. The M’s have 5 HRs and 21 hits  with RISP while the Astros have only 4 hits total with RISP.

This also extends to RISP with 2 outs where the M’s have scored 24 runs vs. the Astros pitiful three.

Offense – Late

Even though the Astros are hitting for a slightly better batting average in the 7th inning and later (.183 vs. .169 BA) – the M’s have scored 7 runs in the late innings while the Astros have scored ZERO from the 7th inning onward! Slightly choking there Houston?

In general, the Astros offense is struggling. They have scored 15 runs in 7 games (29th ahead of the Reds who have played one less game) while the M’s have scored 56 runs in 8 games.

The Astros are kind of middle of the road so far in getting people on base, but are a huge fail in getting them home. Something better change soon.

OK – talk about that or whatever you fancy on this early April weekend.

 

 

10 reasons not to panic about the 2019 Astros (Yet)

At the beginning of any season, wins and especially losses are magnified just like batting averages (.000 for Aledmys Diaz and Max Stassi or .462 for Josh Reddick) might be slightly unsustainable. It is easy to micro-analyze every outing, every at bat, every failure and start looking for call-ups, releases, trades, Dallas Keuchel signings or divine intervention. Here are 10 reasons not to panic (yet) about the Astros 2-4 start to the season and the cliché “It’s early” will not be used.

  1. This (and worse) happens all the time. In 2018, the Astros season which ended in a club record for wins included streaks of 1-5, 1-5, 1-4 and two 0-5 streaks. The first two 1-5 streaks occurred before May 6th. In the Holy Grail season of 2017, the Astros had streaks of 1-4, 1-4, 1-5, 1-6 and 1-5 and the first 1-4 happened in the first 8 games of the season.
  2. The Astros are not alone. The World Champion Red Sox (who are not helping the Astros in their quest to beat the Mariners and the A’s) are a robust 1-5. The high hoping Yanks? 2-3. The NL hopefuls Nats, Cubs and Braves? All 1-3. Will these teams continue these paces. Don’t go to Vegas (or a nearby sports gambling state) and bet on that one.
  3. The Captain appears back. In his first 3 games of the season, Carlos Correa has four hits, but more importantly, he has had two of those hits with exit velocities of 112 mph or more. In all of 2018, he only hit two balls that hard which kind of solidifies the theory that he came out of Spring Training last year as damaged goods.
  4. The end of the bullpen looks strong. Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Josh James, Will Harris and Hector Rondon have thrown a combined 11.1 innings and given up 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk and rung up 14 Ks.
  5. NBC is not the only ones with a Peacock. Brad Peacock made a move back into the rotation after a 2018 season pitching out of the bullpen and looked like he thought he should be the #3 starter, not the #5 starter.
  6. The little man will warm up. Jose Altuve has started off with a puny .174 BA and .588 OPS, which only means that there will be hell to pay some time soon.
  7. The slightly bigger man will warm up too. Alex Bregman unfortunately often begins the season slowly, but he will start hitting and that will really kick this team into another gear.
  8. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will produce. Cole let an unforced error throw him off his game in his first start. Verlander pitched great in game 1, but never seemed to get his breaking stuff working in his second start. It says here that this will be an unusual occurrence and these guys will get things rolling next time around.
  9. The leadoff man will continue to lead. George Springer has been good for the Astros. He feels ready to take that to another level as he starts the season leading them in HRs and RBIs.
  10. The goose eggs will be gone. Reddick, Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White have 0 RBIs after the first 6 games. Here’s betting that changes in the next 6.

The Astros do get to come home after tonight’s finale against the Rangers. Hopefully, they will reverse their trends of 2017 and 2018 and play better at home than on the road. Hopefully, they will start the homestand with a 3-4 record. Your turn now, what reasons do you have to panic or to not panic this early in the season.

(OK, that was almost like saying “It’s early”)

Astros 2019: The week before, the week ahead

The week of 3-25 through 3-31 in review

The Astros began the season with a very solid 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Justin Verlander struggled early and then shut the door as did the two-headed end of the bullpen Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna. Home runs from George Springer, Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve accounted for all the offense and the Astros were off and running. The final three games of the series played out a little differently, but each resulted in an ugly low scoring loss, 4-2, 3-1 and 3-1.

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