Archive for the ‘Houston Astros’ category

I Probably Would Have Gone with Bregman or Semien

November 15, 2019

If I had an American League MVP vote, I probably would have gone with Alex Bregman on the theory that he was more “valuable.”  It’s hard to argue that Mike Trout isn’t the best player in baseball and the best, at least in an absolute sense, in the Junior Circuit in 2019.

However, the Angels went a pathetic 72-90, and Trout missed 28 games, while Bregman played in 157 and filled in at SS for the ‘Stros when Carlos Correa was out for sixty games with a broken rib (I kind of doubt the veracity of the claim that it happened during a massage — players often lie about stupid injuries of this sort).

In fact, one could make a compelling argument that Marcus Semien was the “most valuable” AL player, as the A’s probably don’t make the post-season without his tremendous performance, while the Astros would have made the post-season even if Bregman had merely played as well as he did in 2018.

No complaints about the NL voting, though.  Bellinger, then Yelich seems just about right.

The Houston Astros Are Making a Mistake If They Start Justin Verlander in Game 2

October 20, 2019

Looking at the first two games of the 2019 World Series, I was surprised to see the Astros intend to start Justin Verlander in Game 2.  If I were managing the Astros, I would start Zack Greinke in Game 2 and start Verlander in Game 3.  It seems to me to be a case of a manager making the “safe” move, i.e., overworking his best players in the post-season.

Greinke last started on October 17 and Verlander on the 18th.  Verlander has already been worked hard this post-season and could use the extra two day’s rest, including the travel day to Washington.  The whole purpose of getting Greinke at the trade deadline was to have a third ace for the post-season.  Even if Verlander pitches Game 3, he’s still going to be available to make a second start in the Series at Game 7.

It’s a relatively small matter, but I’d rather have the best Verlander possible start Game 3 on October 25th than have a possibly tired Verlander start Game 2 on October 23rd.  I’m highly doubtful the Series is going to come down to Zack Greinke making the Game 6 start, rather than Justin Verlander.

The Nats’ three aces are going to be better rested for this series after the Nats’ four game sweep of the Cardinals.  The Astros are the heavy favorites in this series, but anything can happen in a short series, particularly when the Nats’ starters are better rested.

Yet Another Example That Short Rest in the Post Season Is Usually a Mistake

October 9, 2019

The Astros started Justin Verlander on (for him) historically short rest.  He gave up three runs in the 1st and allowed four in 3.2 IP total, after allowing the Rays one hit over 7 innings in Game 1.  I’d have gone with Wade Miley and everyone else in the Astros’ pitching staff except Verlander and Gerrit Cole, so those last two could be saved for proper rest at home in Houston for Game 5.

Now the Astros have to start Cole on short rest, when he might potentially have been a perfect two or three inning reliever, as and if necessary, in Game 5.

If Cole wins tomorrow, no harm done, except that the rotation will be screwed up in terms of when Verlander pitches in the series against the Yankees.

Managers start their aces on short rest because it’s the safe move to make.  You rely on your ace, and your ace lets you down.  Who can blame the manager.  It probably makes more sense to have your ace fully rested pitching at home in Game 5.

I’ll admit that it would have been braver for me to write this post before today’s game started, since I knew the Astros would be starting Verlander.  However, I wrote back on September 11th, that I expected Miley to get exactly one start in most of the Astros’ post-season series, because he was the obvious choice for a No. 4 starter needed to keep the team’s three aces fresh.

Now it’s all up to Gerrit Cole on short rest at home to make A.J. Hinch look like he knows what he’s doing.

A’s Show the Astros They Won’t Be Pushed Around

September 11, 2019

The Oakland A’s sent a message to the Houston Astros tonight — you need to bring it if you’re going to beat us.  Unfortunately, for the A’s, the Astros can bring a lot more starting pitching.

Yesterday, the Astros beat the A’s brains out — the ‘Stros scored 11 runs in the first two innings and cruised to a 15-0 win behind Zack Greinke.  Today, the A’s scored 17 runs in the first four innings and scored in each of the first six innings as they glided to a 21-7 victory.

The A’s sent a message tonight, but that’s about it, because the message was “you need to bring starting pitching to beat us.”  The Astros have starting pitching, and the A’s still need to win a wild card spot and win the wild card game, even to make the real play-off series.

Wade Miley, who got hammered tonight, will probably be in the Astros’ post-season rotation.  It’s certain he won’t get more than one start per post-season series.

Right now, the Astros have to be seen as the World Series favorites.  They have the starters and the line-up and the post-season experience to make them the odds-on favorite.  But that is, of course, why they actually play the games.  Anything can happen in a short series.

CC Sabathia Wins 250th Major League Game

June 20, 2019

CC Sabathia won his 250th major league game, which, if he wasn’t already assured a place in the Hall of Fame, has assured him a place in the Hall of Fame.  250 career wins is almost certainly the contemporary 300 career win standard that guaranteed any pitcher (major scandals excepted) a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Future pitchers will win 250 games.  Justin Verlander will likely do it in 2021 or 2022, but it is certainly debatable whether any pitcher will again win 300 games.

Houston Astros Sign Felipe Paulino

June 18, 2019

Remember Felipe Paulino?  He had a six year major league career with his last appearances for the White Sox back in 2014, and it wasn’t particularly memorable.  Paulino was mostly an ineffective major league starter with a career record of 13-34 with a 5.22 ERA.

He’s 35 now and has been effective closer in the Indy-A Atlantic League for much of the past three summers.  The Astros just signed him to a minor league contract which is notable solely because major league teams almost never sign players this old with such spotty past major league records out of the Independent-A leagues.  A pitcher who once an effective major league closer or legitimate No. 2 or 3 starter, maybe, not someone like Paulino who was never very good even at this best.

Paulino really has been good in what amounts to two full seasons played over the last three summers in the Atlantic League.  His ERA has been consistently under 2.00, he’s recorded 63 saves and 154Ks in 116.1 IP.  On its face, that would suggest he deserves another look at AAA from a team with a major league bullpen need.

However, Paulino was brutally bad in half a season in the Mexican League in 2017 and pitched poorly in the Venezuelan Winter League last off-season.  Neither league is significantly better than the Atlantic League or as good as other AAA leagues (the Mexican League is labeled a AAA league by MLB, but is really closer to a AA level of play).

It’s a rare thing indeed for a player like Paulino to get another MLB-system shot at age 35, so it’s worth taking notice of it, and I’ll certainly be rooting for him, even if I’m doubtful he can cut the mustard in the heavy-hitting Pacific Coast League.

Hot Pitchers

May 4, 2019

23 year old Zac Gallen is ready for his major league promotion.  He’s leading the AAA Pacific Coast League with an 0.81 ERA, his 38Ks is tied for 1st, and the Marlins suck.  Gallen could pitch in relief to start with or one of the Marlins’ currently not very effective young starters could be moved to the bullpen to make way for Gallen.

It’s worth noting, though, that New Orleans with its below sea level air appears to be one of the PCL’s best pitchers’ parks — three of the circuit’s top five ERA leaders play for the Baby Cakes.

Rico Garcia (1.82 ERA, 35 Ks in 24.2 IP) deserves a promotion to AAA.  Devin Smeltzer has already received a promotion to AAA Rochester after recording an 0.60 ERA and 33 Ks in 30 IP at AA Pensacola.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that top two-way prospect Brendan McKay is going to be mainly a pitcher at the major league level.  In 14 AA games, he has a .481 OPS as a hitter, but on the mound he currently has a 2.41 ERA with 33 Ks in 18.2 IP.  If he ever catches up with the bat, he’ll already be a major league starter that no one’s going to want to f@#$ around with.

Great namers MacKenzie Gore and Ljay Newsom are dominating the Class A+ California League.  Their respective 1.32 and 1.47 ERAs are the only ones under 2.00.  Gore has stuck out 38 batters in 26.1 IP, and Newsom has struck out 54 batters in 36.2 IP.  Each has allowed exactly four walks so far.  Gore is the better prospect, because at age 20, he’s two years younger.

22 year old Dominican Cristian Javier is impressing in the Class A+ Carolina League with an 0.73 ERA and 32 Ks in 24.2 IP.

Former No. 1 overall draft pick and recent no-hit throwing Case Mize is not the best pitcher in the pitcher-friendly Class A+ Florida State League.  While Mize has recorded an 0.35 ERA with 25 Ks in 26 IP, Bailey Ober has a perfect 0 ERA (and run average) with 26 Ks in 24 IP.  Meanwhile Damon Jones has an 0.77 ERA with 36 Ks in 23.1 IP.