Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*A three-run 7th inning helped propel the Astros to a 5-2 win over Seattle, stopping the Mariners' win streak at six. Lance McCullers made his first start in 16 days and threw 5IP, 4H/1ER, 8K:0BB, getting pulled after 76 pitches. McCullers:
You just feel really, really fresh, so that's something to get used to. But, I got out there and just trusted (McCann), and tried to think about my mechanics more than how my arm was feeling. 

*Josh Reddick was 1x4 with a 2-run home run and made two run-saving diving catches as a left fielder. Reddick:
Fortunately I got some good breaks tonight and was able to hold onto the ball and keep them out of the lights. If either of those balls gets in the lights I might be in trouble. Just got to keep working at it.

*Ken Giles sure did make things interesting in the 9th. With a 5-1 lead, Giles gave up a double and walked three batters.

*The Astros are 51-25 (remember they were 51-111 in 2013) and are 28-9 on the road. Every other AL West team - besides Seattle, of course - won last night, so the lead is at 12.5 games.

*Brad Peacock is at home with his wife and new baby, so Frankie Tuesday will start in his place today at Seattle. Which means that, with McCullers' activation yesterday, Jordan Jankowski was recalled from Fresno and Joe Musgrove was sent down. Hinch, on Musgrove:
We've got to get him back to executing the way that he does when he's successful. He's had a hard time executing his pitches, specifically late in the count, and he's had some big innings implode on him in the outings in which he's struggled. The other reason is we need a full complement of relievers to keep guys rested and make sure I'm not overusing guys, and we have an opportunity to accomplish both of those things by sending Musgrove out. 

In 82 Plate Appearances in which the batter was ahead against Musgrove, he has allowed a .426/.573/.885 slash line.

*Marwin Gonzalez was a late scratch Saturday with oblique tightness.

*Sporting News took a look at the 2017 Astros' numbers and whether they held up against the famed SI cover's predictions.

*Kyle Tucker hit his 4th home run in his last six games in last night's Hooks win. In 20 games Jason Martin is hitting .354/.386/.633 and also homered last night for Corpus.

*Astros 9th-Round pick Michael Papierski hit two home runs - one from each side of the plate - to help LSU beat Oregon State and go to the College World Series finals.

*This Tacoma columnist compares the 2017 Astros to the 2001 Mariners.

*Ken Rosenthal says a trade involving Johnny Cueto could be problematic for the Giants because of his opt-out clause.

*As someone who deals with this occasionally, it took some courage for Roberto Osuna to talk about his anxiety.

*Written a while ago, I just got around to reading this excellent postmortem of the University of Buffalo's elimination of the baseball program and how, even in western New York, football ruins everything.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Morning Hot Links

Update from yesterday: Our A/C did not, in fact, heal itself and it went out. It's 80 degrees in my house at 5:58am. Hottest day of the year and the tech can't get here until 4pm. Looking forward to sweating off about 10 pounds today. 

*The Astros had to sweat out what once was a 10-run lead thanks to some shaky pitching from guys who should probably only be pitching in a 9-run game. Or in Fresno. Astros win, 12-9. The offense was unstoppable in the 2nd inning, scoring eight runs - including two 3-run homers from Marisnick (who entered the game after Springer went down) and Marwin. Nori Aoki was 3x5 with two doubles.

*David Paulino pitched a pretty okay game (which is good enough for this offense), throwing 5.1IP, 7H/3ER, 6K:2BB. He struck out five of the first six batters he faced, but efficiency was his downfall, getting pulled after 107 pitches.

*Dayan Diaz gets the Goat of the Game after allowing the A's to get right back in it, throwing 35 pitches to get one out and allowing three hits, two walks, and five runs total (thanks in part to Michael Feliz). Oakland's 8th inning went as such: Double, Strikeout, Walk, Double, Double, Wild Pitch, Walk. Michael Feliz "took over" and this happened: Double, Wild Pitch, RBI groundout, Strikeout.

*Josh Reddick was a (wink) single short of the cycle, going 3x4 with a double, triple, home run, and a walk. Reddick:
You always want to do well against your former team. I enjoy beating them regardless. Whether I go 0x4 or I go 4x4. So, it is fun. 

*The Outlaw Jesse Hahn got everyone all nervous, hitting George Springer on the left hand and knocking him out of the game. Hahn then proceeded to throw 2IP, 6H/10 R (9ER), 0K:3BB and thinks hitting Springer (X-Rays negative, day-to-day) threw him off:
Yeah I think maybe that affected me. For me, my game is coming inside on righties, throwing my sinker in on righties and I kind of babied it in there after that. I started spiking a lot, yanking stuff, and it just wasn't good.

*Hahn told Susan Slusser that:
I'm not going to say it rattled me but I felt bad and sent best wishes to him.


*X-Rays were negative and Springer has already lobbied Hinch to put him in the lineup when the Astros play the Mariners tonight.

*Marisnick's 10th home run of the season set a career-high. Marisnick:
It feels good doing all that work and then get the results. I'm excited about it, excited to kind of keep working on it and keep going.

*The Astros have now won ten straight at Oakland, and 15 of their last 16 overall against the A's.

*They're 50-24 (reminder that the 2013 Astros were 51-111 for the season) with a 27-8 record on the road (those 2013 Astros were 27-53 on the road and the 2012 Astros went 20-61 on the road. Those were bad times.) The Cubs led MLB in 2016 with a 57-24 record. The 2015 Astros were 33-48 on the road. But the best Astros road record since 1998* came when the 2001 Astros went 49-32 on the road.

*I have other things to do today, so I stopped at 1998. 

*Only three teams since 2000 have reached 50 wins in 74 games or less: the 2001 Mariners, the 2005 White Sox, and the 2015 Cardinals. Only the White Sox went on to win the World Series (boo! hiss!). Hinch:
We're pretty even-keeled around here. We don't talk a lot about getting to 40 wins, getting to 50 wins. We're going to continue to press forward and try to win as many as we can. 

*Houston is the first team in the Majors to reach 400 runs.

*USA Today: McCann and Gattis are a deadly combination. Also this, from McCann:
Every day I walk out to the bullpen at home I get people screaming, 'Gatti, Gatti, sign!'

*Charlie Morton threw 36 pitches in 2IP, allowing 2H/1ER, 1K:1BB in a rehab start for Fresno. Fresno would go on to lose to Sacramento 9-3.

*Kyle Tucker hit his 5th Double-A home run last night in a 6-5 extra-inning win over Frisco thanks to Jon Singleton's sac fly. Tucker is hitting .255/.300/.511 in 22 games with Corpus. He's 20.

*Jon Heyman out here throwing slugs:
Pedroia was upset at that young Astros pitcher not because he believed he threw at him on purpose but because of sheer incompetence; Pedroia was the second straight batter hit.

That "young Astros pitcher" is presumably 30-year old James Hoyt.

*Eno Sarris notes that the Astros are throwing the fewest four-seam fastballs in the Majors.

*The Chronicle's Hunter Atkins: It's all fun and games in the Astros' clubhouse. This is a fun read.

*A.J. Hinch talked defensive shifts with Buster Olney.

*Baseball Prospectus: Tal's Hill went on vacation and took pictures.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday Morning Hot Links

Note: The Hot Links are late this morning because for an hour I thought the air conditioning at our house went out. It healed itself, and the kingdom rejoiced. 

*Mike Fiers and a big 6th inning were the keys to the Astros' 5-1 win over Oakland last night. The Astros guaranteed their first series win in their last five series (Boston, Arlington, Anaheim, Kansas City).

Fiers threw 6.1IP, 3H/3ER, 5K:3BB and got three GIDPs. The Astros are 26-8 on the road this season.

I felt really good. Just needed to throw in the zone a little bit more. I was able to get back, get back to throwing a lot of strikes. Honestly, they did a good job of taking a lot of pitches, taking some close curveballs, working the count deep...But overall, it was a good outing, and I'll take that every time. 

*Every Astros starter got a hit, except for George Springer who was 0x5. Bregman was 1x2 with 2BB. A's starter Sean Manaea:
They're unbelievable. One through nine, you don't catch any breaks. They've got power, they've got speed. They're a really, really good ball club, and they're playing really good baseball right now. 

*Oakland is searching for answers against the Astros, who have won nine straight games in Oakland and 14 of the last 15 games. Stephen Vogt:
Any time you are getting beat by the same team over and over, it's frustrating. But that is a really good team and they are going to win a lot more games. We have a chance to take one and salvage the series and it will still have been a pretty good homestand. 


*Correa had a great game, both offensively and defensively.

*Jose Altuve got a hit off Sean Manaea, his first, and is now 1x14. There are now just two pitchers Altuve has faced 10+ times without a hit: Wade Davis and Bronson Arroyo.

*Reliever Jandel Gustave had Tommy John Surgery yesterday morning.

*No one has in baseball has seen more sliders than Alex Bregman.

*"I think Marwin can be in the conversation among the best players in the big leagues." - Lance McCullers. This is an excellent profile on Marwin.

*San Antonio announced that they will be a Triple-A franchise in 2019, sparking rumors that there could be some reshuffling - possibly with the Ryan-owned Round Rock franchise returning to Houston. Houston's PDC with Fresno expires after the 2018 season.

*13th Round pick Jake Meyers has signed for "somewhere around $125,000," or the exact number the Astros can sign a pick from Rounds 11-40 without it counting against their overall bonus pool. Check the updated 2017 Draft page for details.

*Doug Fister, anyone? No, okay.

*A Canadian sniper killed an ISIS target from two miles away. I demand a movie be made about this, eh?

*Soon you'll be able to visit secret WW1 tunnels underneath London.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

*The Astros put up a 5-spot on Sonny Gray in the 1st inning last night and rode it out to an 8-4 win over Oakland. Gray needed 38 pitches to get through the 1st as the Astros sent 10 men to the plate, including George Springer and his 8th leadoff homer of the season. The MLB record for leadoff homers in a season is 13, by Alfonso Soriano. Reddick, on Springer:
It's special to hit behind that guy. Eight leadoff homers, 21 homers out of the leadoff spot, you just don't see that a whole lot. It makes you wonder what he would do out maybe in the three-, four-hole in this lineup. But you really can't move him. 

The average leadoff hitter in baseball (including Springer) is hitting .261/.330/.419. Springer is hitting .284/.356/.567.

Our at-bats were exceptional. Springer sets the tone with the big home run, and then we continued to do some positive things against [Gray] and put up positive at-bats. 

For all the damage the Astros did against Sonny Gray in the 1st, they didn't get a whole lot more until he left the game. Consider:
Gray, 1st inning: 38 pitches, 5H/5ER, 0K:2BB
Gray, 2nd-5th: 70 pitches, 2H/0ER, 5K:2BB, HBP

*Gray, on his start:
It has been one inning for numerous starts now where things kind of escalate. I'm gonna have to figure this thing out. Whether it's getting off the mound and slowing myself down, I've gotta figure out a way to shut the inning down when I get two outs. 

*Frankie Tuesday threw 5.2IP, 6H/3ER, 4K:3BB for his second ML win in two starts, holding the A's to an 0x6 w/RISP with him on the mound. Within that link we find that Martes could be optioned back to Fresno when McCullers comes off the DL on Saturday, or the Astros could place Brad Peacock on paternity leave and let Martes throw in his spot on Sunday.

*Luke Gregerson faced three batters and struck them all out.

*Astros are 6-1 against Oakland in 2017, and haven't lost in Oakland since July 19, 2016.

*Houston is 24-10 against the AL West.

*Alex Bregman's last seven PAs (most recent to previous): Out, double, walk, HBP, single, double, double.

*Hinch told 790 that Charlie Morton is throwing mid-90s. He'll start for Fresno on Thursday and throw 2-3IP.

*If the Astros have "any opening whatsoever," they're bringing back Derek Fisher

*Wall Street Journal: The Astros don't like strikeouts anymore

*Tom Verducci has a good piece on the Astros' trade needs and a couple of good stories about how the Astros landed David Paulino and Francis Martes. Verducci:
Yes, it will hurt Houston to shoot high. But the time for bargain shopping is over. The Astros already know the question they face next month, and it is the same question the Cubs faced last July: If not now, when?

*What's it like to be Latino in MLB? This is a must-read.

*Hardball Times: Examining what Cuban League stats actually mean

*Patrick Hruby in Vice: The plot to disrupt the NCAA with a pay-for-play HBCU basketball league

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Most Productive Astros Draftees, by Round

There's no reason to post this, other than that I thought it would be interesting. Even I don't know what I'll find. Here are the most successful Astros, drafted by the Astros, sorted by round (by bWAR). Let's get after it:

Note: Players denoted with a * did not acquire any WAR with the Astros. Players had to have signed with the Astros initially in order to be considered (hence the absence of Michael Bourn). 
Also: There were 96 Rounds of the 1990, 1991, and 1994 drafts. There were 98 Rounds in 1990 and 1994, and 99 Rounds in 1990. 

1st Round: Craig Biggio (1987), 65.1 bWAR
2nd Round: Hunter Pence (2004), 29.0 bWAR
3rd Round: Ken Caminiti (1984), 33.3 bWAR
4th Round: Luis Gonzalez (1988), 51.5 bWAR
5th Round: Cliff Johnson (1966), 16.2 bWAR
6th Round: Ben Zobrist (2004), 43.2 bWAR*
7th Round: Dallas Keuchel (2009), 15.7 bWAR
8th Round: Dave Smith (1976), 12.1 bWAR
9th Round: Morgan Ensberg (1998), 13.8 bWAR
10th Round: Jamie Walker (1992), 4.2 bWAR*
11th Round: Gary Gentry (1965), 6.1 bWAR*
12th Round: Johnny Ray (1979), 24.0 bWAR*
13th Round: Hector Mercado (1992), 0.4 bWAR*
14th Round: Mike Easler (1969), 12.9 bWAR
15th Round: Mike Flanagan (1971), 26.3 bWAR*
16th Round: Brian Meyer (1986), 0.3 bWAR
17th Round: Kenny Lofton (1988), 68.2 bWAR
18th Round: Ken Forsch (1968), 26.4 bWAR
19th Round: Aaron Miles (1995), 1.0 bWAR*
20th Round: Wade Miller (1996), 14.8 bWAR
21st Round: N/A
22nd Round: Bob Watkins (1966), 0.0 bWAR
23rd Round: Roy Oswalt (1996), 50.2 bWAR
24th Round: Jeriome Robertson (1995), -2.1 bWAR
25th Round: Charlton Jimerson (1997), 0.3 bWAR
26th Round: Jim Dougherty (1990), -1.2 bWAR
27th Round: N/A
28th Round: Tom Funk (1983), -0.2 bWAR
29th Round: Tom Shearn (1996), 0.3 bWAR*
30th Round: Darryl Kile (1987), 20.3 bWAR
31st Round: N/A
32nd Round: Tim Hamulack (1995), -1.1 bWAR*
33rd Round: Tyler White (2013), 0.0 bWAR
34th Round: Eric Anthony (1986), -0.2 bWAR
35th-38th Rounds: N/A
39th Round: Alvin Morman (1991), 0.4 bWAR
40th-42nd Rounds: N/A
43rd Round: Julio Lugo (1994), 13.6 bWAR
44th Round: Bry Nelson (1993), 0.0 bWAR*
45th-67th Rounds: N/A 
68th Round: Otis Thornton (1965), -0.2 bWAR
69th-99th Rounds: N/A

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

*Brad Peacock threw 5.2IP, allowing 4H/1ER, 8K:2BB. The Astros are 4-2 in Peacock's starts this season and he has thrown 28.1IP, 22H/12ER, 44K:14BB in those starts, on a .356 BABIP. The Astros beat the A's 4-1 behind home runs from George Springer, Jake (Roger Maris)nick, and Derek Fisher.

*Hinch, on Peacock:
Peacock had a really good breaking ball tonight, and he could throw it whenever he wanted to...Really only had one inning where he ran into a little bit of traffic and trouble, and Will [Harris] came in and bailed him out. Excellent, excellent start by him. 

Peacock's 13.3 K/9 rate is 2nd on the team, behind only James Hoyt.

*Springer is the first Astro to hit 20 home runs before the All-Star Break since Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee did it in 2008.

*Four of Marisnick's nine home runs have gone 440+ feet.

*Josh Reddick is coming off the DL today and Derek Fisher is headed back to Fresno. Hinch:
I'm proud of him. He's a part of this. It's not an easy send down because he's done nothing wrong. But the way our roster's configured, where we're comfortable right now, we've got to make the move. 

*ESPN's Dan Szymborski: Should you hop on the Astros' bandwagon?

*Alex Bregman had two doubles last night in the #8 spot - his first extra-base hit in 25 plate appearances and his first 2XBH-game since May 24 against the Tigers. Jeff Blogwell wrote that Bregman is, in fact, good and is, in fact, about to get better.

*Lance McCullers is on track to rejoin the rotation this weekend.

*Dallas Keuchel played catch and Charlie Morton threw 50 pitches in a bullpen session before heading to Fresno on a rehab assignment.

*Luhnow, on the injuries to the rotation:
I don't characterize any of these are major injuries because all of these guys are expected to be back and expected to contribute in the second half. But to have them all happen at the same time is a little frustrating and really stresses our organizational depth.

*Tonight's game features Sonny Gray vs. Francis Martes. A preview of a trade to come?

*If Houston is Gray's destination, the A's may wait until next week's series with the Astros is over before dealing him. Click the link and read about how one NL team wants to turn him into a closer. Probably the Mets.

*Martes is totally fine with a Johnny Cueto comp.

*James Hoyt made Dustin Pedroia spit up blood.

*Watch Kyle Tucker hit an opposite-field home run:

*Hooks manager Rodney Linares has been pushing for J.D. Davis to get promoted.

*Rosenthal: A trade deadline guide for the Orioles, A's, and Tigers

*Check the updated 2017 Draft page.