Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

Apologies for yesterday's absence. It was the first day of school, my kid was super-jacked and woke up really early, and I had to leave early to get to my own classroom. Two things I'll need to reteach myself from this summer (and from last year when my conference period lasted all three lunches):

1) Learn to eat in 25 minutes. I ate half of my grilled chicken and broccoli.
2) Remember that you can't just go to the bathroom whenever you feel like it. Yesterday was the closest I've come to pissing my pants in 30 years.

Anyway, the Astros beat the Tigers 6-3. They're 81-46. There are 35 regular season games left. It's their 8th straight home win. Houston is 12-6 in August.

Houston, after 127 regular season games:
2019: 81-46
2018: 77-50
2017: 77-50

*Aaron Sanchez threw 46 pitches over 2.1IP. 19 were balls. To the 37-85 Tigers. He left the game with right pec soreness. His titty hurt, and has hurt for "six or seven starts" - something I'm sure the Astros weren't exactly thrilled to hear. Sanchez:
It's been an ongoing thing. I've been trying to push through it. It's been up and down.

So now Sanchez is going on the IL. More Sanchez:
Obviously today when my (velocity) drops the way it did, there's no sense in trying to push through it. Especially knowing where this team is going, and I want to be a part of that down the stretch. So the best bet is to just figure out what's going on and work from there. 

*So the Astros basically got another bullpen game. Collin McHugh threw 2IP, 3H/0ER, 4K:0BB. McHugh, since the Trade Deadline: 12.1IP, 7H/0ER, 16K:7BB. He has walked two batters in his last 9.1IP.

*Springer and Altuve hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the bottom of the 1st. It's the 10th time this season the Astros have gone back-to-back. Springer's 10th leadoff home run set a single-season franchise record. It's Springer's 34th career leadoff homer - he needs 20 more to break Craig Biggio's franchise record. Altuve:
We've gotten stronger. I see a lot of homers by Springer when I'm on deck and I love it. I think the fans love it, too. We need to keep hitting homers.

*Michael Brantley has a 14-game hitting streak.

*Yordan was 0x0 with 4BB. It's only the 4th time in 2019 that an MLB player has walked four times in four plate appearances. It's also only the 4th time in franchise history that an Astro has gone 0x0, 0K:4BB, and the first since cHRis carter did it on June 5, 2014.

*So of course Monday's game featured Carlos "Mr. Glass" Correa leaving the game in the 1st inning with "back discomfort." Last night's update is that Correa is "likely" headed to the IL. Hinch:
[Correa's] doing a little bit better, but he's not doing well enough to play. I'm not optimistic that he's going to be able to avoid the IL. We'll make the determination tonight and into tomorrow. We haven't seen anything that's made us believe that this is anything major or massive, but it's going to take a couple days - and certainly up to 10 days - to mend.

I am extremely happy that Carlos Correa is an Astro for a long time to come. Carlos Correa is a generational talent, and his career has been extremely weird, given that he's had to deal with numerous fluky injuries to various parts of his body. I would very much appreciate Carlos Correa moving past the Fluky Injury stage of his professional career.

2014: Correa breaks his leg sliding into third at High-A Lancaster.
2017: Correa tears a thumb ligament on the catcher's shin guard while sliding into home. He later re-injures the thumb celebrating the Astros' ALCS G2 win over the Yankees, but deals with it.
2018: Correa misses significant time - and isn't the same for the rest of the season - when he hurt his back.
2019: Correa misses time with a broken rib he suffered during a massage. Then lower-back tightness is about to force him to the IL.

All of these are fluky. But a lot of flukes in five years isn't exactly fluky. I'm not about to say the dude is injury-prone, but I'm saying it's going to take a season of 140+ games to put a lot of this to rest.

Myles Straw got the start at SS for Round Rock last night. So that's how the next 10+ days is going to go. I bet Myles Straw doesn't post a .929 OPS like Correa did in the 22 games since he got activated from his last injury. The reasonable take is that the Astros don't need Correa to win the division, but they will absolutely need him to win another Pennant and World Series. This team should not be satisfied with just making the postseason. I will go to my grave thinking the Astros should have won the Pennant in 2018 but didn't, in part, because Correa wasn't healthy.

*Jake Kaplan looks at who the Astros might call up once September 1 hits.

*Have you seen this shirt from BreakingT? Remember that ya boi gets a small cut of the profits...

*Hey, why did Miguel Cabrera get ejected on Monday night? Cabrera, who has done nothing to Wrong anybody:
So, after the inning, I was talking to Altuve about [Yordan], because I think the guy is pretty awesome but he's 22, at such a young age, he's really good, he's got a good approach at home plate. And if you see the pitch he threw me out on, it was down. So it's no reason for me to argue that pitch. So I say it's unbelievable how he called the pitch and then he threw me out. I was saying that to Altuve and not the umpire. 

Miguel Cabrera is a Hall of Famer, for his baseball skills and also for his passive-aggressive umpire burns. Fire all the umpires and replace them with non-titty-baby automatons.

*Tom Verducci says that Bregman vs. Matt Chapman is a Golden Age of 3Bs.

*Carlos Beltran's 8HR in the 2004 postseason is David Schoenfield's vote for best-home-run-hitting achievement in franchise history. Personally, I'd pick Game 5

*If you can read Spanish, you'll find that Former Astros Great Octavio Dotel has been detained in the Dominican Republic in regards to a little something called Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering. It's not looking good.

*The Athletic - who a lot of people like to dunk on - has 600,000 subscribers.

*Roger Clemens has apparently been encouraged to run for Congress. Who encouraged him to even consider this is unconfirmed. Clemens won't run for Congress. God bless us, everyone.

*The college student who decoded the data hidden in Inca knots.

*A Musical Selection:

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Morning Hot Links

Shoutout to the County Mountie for giving me the weekend off of Hot Links. Baseball was stupid and tomorrow's the first day of school, so it was very much appreciated. The Astros finally won a game for once in their wretched lives, besting the vaunted Oakland Athletics 4-1 behind an Alex Bregman jack and a solid start from Zack Greinke. Houston is 79-46 with a 7.5-game lead on Oakland. There are 37 regular season games left.

Houston is 22-13 since the All-Star Break, and 10-6 in August. Five of those losses came last week. The Astros have scored four or fewer runs in three straight games for the first time since July 23-26. Houston went 4-6 on the ten-game road trip.

*Zack Greinke threw 7IP, marking the second time since August 2 that an Astros SP has recorded 21 outs (Verlander did it on August 16). Greinke gave up 4H/1ER, 6K:3BB. The walks tied a season-high for Greinke. He has walked seven batters in his three starts (19IP), after having walked seven batters in his previous nine starts for Arizona (58.1IP).

Congratulations to Zack Greinke on picking up his 200th win. Add another Astros cap in the Hall of Fame here in about eight years. He's one of three active pitchers with 200 wins (Verlander, Sabathia). Greinke:
Wins are good. You look back at the end of the year and the team wins a lot and you win a lot, you can't ask for much more than that. I wouldn't say there's many pitchers that would say that that's the Number One most important stat for them, but if you and the team are winning, it's the most important. It doesn't necessarily say you're pitching the best, but it's the most important.

I think Zack did a great job of coming out and stopping the bleeding tonight. We finished a long road trip with a win. We got a lot of work to do to accomplish what we want to, but today was a step in the right direction. 

*Pressly and Osuna needed 23 pitches combined to get through the 8th and 9th innings.

*The Astros "offense" was 2x14 w/RISP, because it was just one of those series. They went 5x30 with runners in scoring position over the four-game series.

*But not Alex Bregman! Bregman went 4x4 with a walk, double, and a three-run home run. It's the second time in his career that he's been on base five times in a game, and you have to go all the way back to August 1 to find the first one.

In 14 August games, Bregman is hitting .442/.540/.904 with 10 doubles, 4 home runs, two strikeouts and ten walks. He has raised his OPS from .909 on July 31 to .974 right now. There are only three instances of an Astros' 3B posting a 5.0+ fWAR season. Bregman has two of them (7.6 in 2018, currently 5.5 in 2019). Morgan Ensberg (6.1) had the other one, in 2005.

Bregman's home run was his 30th of the year. He's the first Astros 3B to have back-to-back 30HR seasons, and the first Astro since Lance Berkman (2006-2007) to hit 30HR in back-to-back seasons.

Just a reminder that Justin Maxwell led the 2012 Astros in home runs, with 18. Seven of the 2019 Astros currently have 18+ home runs, and it's the middle of August.

*Yuli Gurriel's RBI double gave him 86 RBIs on the year, a career-high.

*Josh Reddick got a hit! For a second straight game! Reddick's last extra-base hit came on August 6. His last home run was on June 28, a span of 136 PAs. Reddick is 6x40 (.150/.167/.200) in 12 August games. For no reason, Jack Mayfield hit .143/.163/.310 in 16 games. His OPS is almost 100 points higher than Reddick's is in August. Rough stretch.

*Aledmys Diaz was placed on the 10-Day IL after experiencing dizziness on the team bus on Saturday. Maybe he's pregnant. Hinch:
We're going to take every precaution imaginable to make sure he's OK. He should travel back with us and be back in Houston with our doctors. With the roster the way it was, we needed to make a decision.

Cy Sneed, who had already been optioned to Round Rock but hadn't left Oakland yet, was recalled to give the Astros an extra arm. So the freshest arms in the bullpen are now Cy Sneed and Brad Peacock.

Within that link we also find that Gerrit Cole is expected to start Thursday.

*Here's Jake Kaplan with a look at Kyle Tucker and his chances of getting to Houston, or maybe a postseason roster spot, in 2019.

*McTaggart has the origins of each Astro's Players Weekend nickname.

*This offseason we'll take a look at just how many numbers have been retired by the Astros, and why, but Jose Altuve's 27 is Will Leitch's pick for the next Astros number to never get used again.

*Joe Biagini threw for the first time since the Bullpen Game against Chicago and, well: 0.2IP, 3H/5ER, 2K:2BB. Round Rock lost to OKC 14-11.

*The Age of Envy: How to be Happy When Everybody Else's Life Looks Perfect.

*Vanity Fair on Perfection Anxiety.

*A Musical Selection:

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Morning Hot Links


One highlight to the game was Yordan Alvarez hitting a home run on a 3-0 pitch. Here are the stats on that home run:

Yordan would finish the night 2-3 with two home runs.

The Astros bullpen is getting some reinforcement today. Brad Peacock is being activated from the IL today and he'll pitch out of the bullpen. Largely, because Aaron Sanchez has pitched well. Sanchez has a 3.86 ERA in three starts for the Astros.

Rogelios Armenteros was optioned to Round Rock.

Josh Reddick was given a day off. In his last 365 days Reddick is hitting .257/.309/.383 good for a .693 OPS. It's even worse the closer you get to yesterday:

Worth remembering that the hot New York Mets have a similar record to the Astros in August.

This might be the best bobblehead giveaway ever!

Francis Marte returned from the restricted list and was added to the minor league injured list. He is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. I thought he had been traded. 

Your tweet of the night:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday Morning Hot Links

I've decided to hack Astros County's hot links, because that's the kind of thing I like do (and AC really need a brake).

The Astros lost in the 13th inning. Not really in the mood to talk about that one.

Reid Ryan was inducted into the Round Rock Express Hall of Fame. He is the sixth member of said Hall of Fame.

Gerrit Cole is expected to miss only, "one start" which means he'll be available for the playoffs. In all seriousness, I like the approach the Astros have taken with injuries. The Astros have a significant lead in the division. There is no rush to get Cole or any other player that feels discomfort back into the starting lineup. I've already planned to take a week off for the day games the Astros will play in the division series.

Rogelio Armenteros will start Saturday's contest against the A's. He'll make one start and be sent back down. Martin Maldonado is expected to catch.

Hinch on Armenteros:
“He’s thrown very well. Righties [perform] better than lefties against [the A's] lineup, and we think he’s the right option for us.”

Armenteros has allowed 8 ER in 14.1 innings since being sent down. Six of those came in his July 28th start, in which he only lasted 2 innings. In the last two games he's allowed 2 ER over 12.1 innings.

While putting this post together the below poll was thrown up on the broadcast. I'll take Jose Altuve all day. ALL DAY!

Altuve's similar batters through age 28 include five Hall of Famers:

  • Ryne Sandberg
  • Billy Herman
  • Roberto Alomar
  • Frankie Frisch
  • Bobby Doerr
Stay tuned. 

For those curious about the other guys Hall of Famer similarity batter scores through similar age:
  • George Springer - 0
  • Carlos Correa - 3
  • Alex Bregman - 2
"The Astros represent the promise land, the big rock candy mountain of baseball," according to the New York Times and Asher Wojciechowski. Wade Miley, A-a-ron Sanchez, and Zach Greinke weigh in on the Astros revolution. 

Here's a money quote from Miley, “I checked the data and it was spinning faster and it had more break on it. It’s amazing.”

During the broadcast Todd Kalas mentioned that Justin Verlander needed 73 strikeouts to get 3000 strikeouts this year (he had four strikeouts into the game at this point). With eight more starts he has a chance. 

He finished the night with strikeouts. Prior to tonight, Verlander has a 2.65 ERA and 84 strikeouts at The Coliseum. 

More stats from last night's game (Geoff Blum and Todd Kalas are great!). 

Altuve and Correa being healthy helps this team go deep into the playoffs. The fact that Correa is hitting 6th is crazy!

The dude that lit up the radar game and signed with the A's, struck out the side in his organizational debut. 

Beyond the Box Score looked at Bregman's strikezone. Un-surprisingly, he's pretty good at identifying pitches out of the zone. 

USA Today does an article on the talent that never made an impression on Houston. J.D. Davis and Ramon Laureano are highlighted in this article. This is what happens when you've got talent out the wazoo. 

Keep an eye out for Jojanse Torres. He's currently at the Fatetteville affiliate. 

Nerd links:

Ewan McGregor is in in negotiations to reprise his roles as Obi-Wan Kenobi

How to use Google for Open Source Intelligence. You Already do a lot of this. Learn how to be better. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday Morning Hot Links

Man, I'm ready for Flick to get back. The Astros made one worse pitch than Oakland did, and lost 7-6. I'm told the game was Weird. I could not stay awake for the whole thing. The Astros are 78-44, 8.5 up on Oakland. They have lost three in a row, and four of five. But they won eight straight before that. It happens.

*I'm having a hard time this morning with only complaining about home runs when the other team hits them.

*There were eleven extra-base hits in last night's game. Ten of them left the yard. Hinch:
They hit the most important one at the right time. We hit some big ones. It was a little bit of 2019 home run derby with the ball flying out of the ballpark everywhere. 

*Astros pitchers have allowed 7+ runs in three of their last five games.

*Aaron Sanchez threw 5.1IP, 7H/6ER, 3K:2BB, 4HR. It's the first time this season an Astros starting pitcher has allowed 4HR, and the second time in his career Sanchez has done it (June 12, 2016).

*It's the 6th time in franchise history the Astros have hit five home runs and lost. It's the 2nd time that's happened this season.

*Five of the Astros' seven hits were home runs. As a team in August the Astros are hitting .310/.385/.610. They're 9-4 in August, with a team .995 OPS.

*Michael Brantley was 3x4 with two home runs and a double. Brantley's last nine games dating back to August 3: .500/.537/868. It was the 7th 2HR game of his career.

*Carlos Correa got two jacks himself and became the youngest Astro to hit 100 career home runs, and it's not even close. He's 24 years and 328 days old. Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken, Jr. are the only other shortstops in MLB history to hit 100 home runs before turning 25. Correa:
I called my dad and told him, and he was crying. Obviously, it was a lot of work put in to get where we are right now. It was an emotional moment. It's very special. 

Astros' all-time home run leaders, by shortstops:
Correa: 100
Marwin: 76
Adam Everett: 35
Dickie Thon: 33
Craig Reynolds: 32

Correa is hitting .290/.366/.579 for a currently-career high OPS of .945. Shut up about Correa. He needs six more home runs to set a career-high, at 25.

*Alex Bregman hit his 29th home run of the season. In August he's hitting .439/.521/.902

*Yordan Alvarez has one hit in his last 18 Plate Appearances. Brett Wallace lookin ass boiiiiiiii.

*On May 19 Josh Reddick went 2x2 with two doubles and 2BB to put his OPS at .860. In the 69 games since, he's hitting .229/.259/.339. Reddick last hit a home run on June 28 - a span of 30 starts. He went 44 games without a home run in 2018, let's see if he can break that streak. Chandler Rome understatedly writes that Reddick is having some trouble shaking off his slump. Hinch:
Reddick has obviously gone through a very slow time. There's a lot of issues that come with that. There's reasons beyond pitch selection, how hard he swings, swing path, all that stuff. There's not one thing that you can pinpoint exactly what's going on. Otherwise, we would have corrected it quite a few at-bats ago.

Dude just looks lost.

*George Springer snapped a 7-game hitting streak with an 0x3, BB night.

*Oakland's Matt Chapman has two straight 2HR games. Chapman:
That was pretty cool. I've never seen the ball carry like that here. It was like we were playing on a normal park. That was a rarity. I've never seen this park play like that. Usually it's pretty cold here and the ball doesn't travel, but that was nice. 

More Chapman:
It feels like that kind of game, a playoff game. That's a really good team we respect and want to beat. This is the Astros' division until somebody knocks them off. To take the first game of the series like that is huge.

Manfred must have made sure that the Coliseum got the extra-jumpy balls for this division matchup.

Bregman, 2019: .277/.405/.554, 29HR, 152 OPS+
Chapman, 2019: .260/.343/.533, 29 HR, 130 OPS+

*Ralph Bowden reports that Gerrit Cole "should be good to go" next week. And the Astros are confident that Cole will only miss this weekend's start. Hinch:
He's going to rest for the next couple of days. He may do a little throwing while we're here in Oakland and then gear towards a bullpen eventually. A lot of therapy, a lot of conversation, a lot of making sure that he doesn't do anything to irritate his hammy, and get him back on the hill eventually.

*The Astros could start Armenteros or Framber on Saturday. Or they could have another bullpen game, since that worked out so well on Tuesday. It just kind of depends.

*Chandler Rome took a look into Ryan Pressly's outing on Wednesday night and notes that he looked as good as any point since returning from the IL. One bad pitch, man.

*Remember that Colorado game where Bregman couldn't come up with a Daniel Murphy liner, and it was ruled a hit? Yesterday it was changed back to an error, so Greinke's line is now officially 6IP, 6H/5R (2ER). Greinke has now given up 4ER in 12IP as an Astro.

*FanGraphs' Craig Edwards notes that Jose Altuve is returning to health and, as a result, MVP form.

*Andrew Simon asks: Is Yordan is having the best start to a career ever?

*The Astros are trying to become the first team in baseball history to not intentionally walk a batter. The previous low for intentional walks by a team in a season was four, set by the...2018 Astros.

*Two Astros Legends - Lance McCullers and Brent Strom - threw off flat ground yesterday.

*Baseball America published their 2019 Best Tools winners. Click to see where Justin Verlander, Justin Verlander, and Justin Verlander rank on the overall winners, and where Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Gerrit Cole, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Ryan Pressly, and A.J. Hinch fall.

*Check out the MLBTR Stock Watch on Wade Miley.

*Some Minor League transactions:
-A.J. Lee (2019 - 34th Round) and C.J. Stubbs (2019 - 10th Round) went from Tri-City to Quad Cities after Lupe Chavez went on the IL and catcher Orlando Marquez was released.

*Hakai Magazine: A tiny Alaskan island faces a threat as deadly as an oil spill - rats.

*How two superstars, four words, and 15 seconds of TV influenced a decade of pop culture.

*The Ringer: Welcome to the world of competitive wiffle ball.

*A Musical Selection: