November 21, 2017

Where Did All the Pitchers Go?

July 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

June was a challenging month for the Houston Astros as four of the five pitchers that were in the opening day starting rotation hit the disabled list. As a result, thirteen of the team’s 27 games in June were started by rookies and the results weren’t pretty. Fortunately, Mike Fiers, the only member of the original starting rotation that remained healthy, came on strong in June (3-1, 2.32 ERA) after pitching poorly in April and May and Brad Peacock came out of the bullpen to post a 3-1 record with an ERA of 3.33. The Astros increased their AL West Division lead from 11 to 13.5 games over the second place Los Angeles Angels in June.

The Astros are at the halfway point at the end of June with a record of 54-27, the best in the major leagues. Credit has to go primarily to the offense. They had a .294 batting average in June raising the average for the season to .283. Both figures led the major leagues and the Astros also lead the majors in on-base percentage (.348), slugging average (.483), runs (5.54 runs per game) and home runs (128). The batters also have the fewest strikeouts in MLB with 544. They have 4 regulars hitting over .300 and 7 batters with 10 or more home runs.

For the first time ever, the Astros will have 3 position players starting in the All-Star Game, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. Pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. were also selected to the team.

The Astros used 17 pitchers in June including outfielder Nori Aoki who mopped up in a 13-4 loss to the Yankees. Moves between the majors and minors were made on almost a daily basis to keep fresh arms in an overworked bullpen. The pitching situation should improve in July. McCullers made two starts in late June and Keuchel, who last pitched on June 1, may be available after the All-Star break. Charlie Morton didn’t pitch at all in June and may also be available at the break. Collin McHugh, who hasn’t pitched at all in the regular season, is reportedly making progress but his return is uncertain. The Astros are expected to acquire another starting pitcher before the trading deadline on July 31.

Despite the pitching staff injuries, Astro pitchers have a 3.92 ERA for the season, 6th in MLB and they lead the majors in strikeouts with 830. The bullpen is deep and has been effective; leading the majors in strikeouts (369) wins (19) and saves (24).

The Astros started the month of June with a three game sweep of their former nemesis, the Texas Rangers, in Arlington as part of an eleven game winning streak. However, the Rangers made partial retribution later in the month by taking two out of three in Houston, leaving the season series at 7-3 in favor of Houston. The teams don’t play each other in July. Another highlight in June was a four-game series sweep at Oakland later in the month. The July schedule is relatively light with only 24 games because of the 4-day All-Star break. Other than 2 games at the beginning of the month with the Yankees, the Astros don’t face the stronger teams in July.

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