Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Morning Hot Links + PreStros Report

*Yulieski Gurriel and Evan Gattis had 3x4 nights and sparked a comeback, bailing Morton out on Khris Davis' 1st inning homer. Astros comeback from a 3-0 and 4-3 deficit to win their 10th straight over Oakland, 9-4. The Astros were 7x14 w/RISP. Morton:
There are teams that score runs and there are teams that are gritty. There's a grit factor in this team that I've seen before on teams that are winners, that squeak it out no matter what. 

*Charlie Morton let Khris Davis drive in four runs on two homers, but got 21 outs for the first time since August 2015. The 12 strikeouts are a career-high, beating his 11K:1BB performance on June 25, 2014 against Tampa Bay, which was his only other 10+ K game. Hinch:
He just got stronger...as the game went along. As he built himself up, the velocity even came up a little bit. His conviction, his pitches got way better...He went from not really having an idea of where his pitches were going to the best he's been as a regular-season Astro. 

*Since April 15 Yulieski Gurriel is hitting .436/.463/.713 - 2nd-best average in baseball behind Bryce Harper.

*A.J. Hinch says he's not assigning personal catchers.

*A's catcher Stephen Vogt, on Josh Reddick, who made a great catch in the 8th inning to save two runs:
Frustrating. It's hard to see him in another uniform, and I know he loved it here as well, so it's hard to see him make catches like that. It's not very much fun when he's not wearing green. 

*Here's FanGraphs' Travis Sawchik with a really insightful post on the Astros' outfield alignment, and the psychology of shifting in regards to the players themselves.

*Check Bernie Pleskoff's scouting report on Gurriel.

*Akeem Bostick was promoted from Buies Creek to Corpus.

*More FanGraphs: Is Cole Hamels primed for a fall?

PreStros Report: Games of April 28

Fresno (9-13) scored seven runs after the 6th inning, but it wasn't enough in an 8-7 loss at Reno. David Martinez allowed 4H/5R (4ER), 1K:1BB in 6IP; Tyson Perez allowed 4H/3ER in 1IP as pitching remains Fresno's weakness. Dayan Diaz struck out the side in the 9th. A.J. Reed was 3x3 with a double and two walks; Derek Fisher (HR), Preston Tucker (RBI), Reid Brignac (BB) and Jon Kemmer (2B, BB, RBI) had two hits each.

Frisco scored four runs in the 9th inning to take an 8-6 win over Corpus (12-9). Cy Sneed threw 5IP, 5H/2ER, 2K:1BB. Brock Dykxhoorn allowed 5H/2ER, 6K:0BB in 3IP and Riley Ferrell to the BS/L with 5H/4R (3ER) in the 9th. Ramon Laureano was 2x5 with a triple and 4RBI. Jamie Ritchie was 3x3 with a double and a walk. Bryan Muniz was 2x4. Alejandro Garcia was 1x5 with a 2-run triple and also got an outfield assist.

Buies Creek (15-7) won a duel with Wilmington, 2-1. Lefty prospect Framber Valdez threw 5IP, 3H/0ER, 5K:2BB; Yoanis Quiala improved to 3-0 with 4IP, 2H/1ER, 4K:0BB. Johnny Sewald was 2x4 with a stolen base. Anibal Sierra was 1x3 with the lone RBI. Kyle Tucker was 0x2 with a walk.

Quad Cities (12-10) stomped a mudhole in Clinton with a 19-2 win. Forrest Whitley made his second start of the season and threw 3IP, 3H/0ER, 7K:0BB. Jorge Alcala struck out five in 4IP. Marcos Almonte was 4x5 with a walk and an RBI; Daz Cameron had his best game of his career, going 3x5 with a single, triple, homer and 7RBI. Randy Cesar (2 2B, 3RBI), Chuckie Robinson (2 2B, 2BB, 2RBI), and Taylor Jones (2B, 3RBI) all had three hits each. Quad Cities was 12x27 w/RISP.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Morning Hot Links + PreStros Report

*Chris Devenski made one bad pitch and that sealed the series loss at Cleveland. Astros lose a second consecutive one-run game, 4-3.

*Hinch decided to give Altuve and Springer another day off, as well as a scheduled day off for Carlos Beltran.

*Jose Altuve - who had a pinch-hit single - was caught stealing in the 9th, just before two straight singles.

*David Schoenfield has the strategy breakdown of last night's game.

*Here's a good article from Sam Miller about stabilization rates, and Dallas Keuchel's historically-impressive start to 2017.

*Brady Rodgers is being evaluated for an elbow injury.

*These Hot Links posts are better than Jon Heyman's notes.

*MLBTR has the latest update on Cuban OF Luis Robert

*Ben Lindbergh wonders if GMs are gaming the 10-Day DL.

*Paul Lukas looked at how teams set up their home/away unis.

*FanGraphs: What can you learn about minor-league plate discipline?

*The Red Sox' 2014 9th Round pick was critically injured in a car crash Wednesday night.

PreStros Report: Games of April 27

Fresno (9-12) fell to Reno in a lopsided 8-1 loss. Brian Holmes allowed 3H/3ER, 2K:4BB in 5IP. Aaron West and Kevin Comer were bitten by the Unearned Run Bug. The "offense" was 0x12 w/RISP and left 12 men on base. Derek Fisher and Preston Tucker each had two hits. Reid Brignac had a double.

Midland scored two runs in the 7th to send their game at Corpus (12-8) into extra innings, where Midland got three runs in the 10th for a 6-3 win. Joshua James threw 4.2IP, 4H/1ER, 6K:3BB; Ryan Deemes allowed 3H/2ER, 3K:0BB in 2.1IP, Ralph Garza struck out four in 2IP and Eric Peterson took the L with 2H/3ER, 0K:2BB in the 10th. J.D. Davis was 2x5 and stole home. Bryan Muniz was 3x4 with two doubles. Bobby Boyd (BB), Garrett Stubbs and Mott Hyde (RBI) had two hits each.

Buies Creek (14-7) beat Winston-Salem 2-0 in a rain-shortened six-inning game. Matt Bower threw all 6IP, allowing 3H/0ER, 5K:1BB. Johnny Sewald was 2x3, Oswaldo Duarte was 2x2, and the BCA stole five bases in the game.

The River Bandits got got by a 9-run Clinton 3rd inning in a 10-5 loss. Cuban lefty Cionel Perez made his stateside debut and allowed 5H/7R (6ER), 2K:2BB in 2.2IP. Brett Adcock threw 4IP, 3H/1R (0ER), 4K:1BB. Randy Cesar was 2x4. Taylor Jones and Carmen Benedetti were each 1x3 with a double and 2RBI.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Morning Hot Links + PreStros Report

*The Astros aren't going to win them all, but you could point a few different fingers in a few different directions: McCullers' lack of sharpness, Tony Sipp (single, sac bunt, wild pitch, walk), Michael Feliz allowing a two-run single. Reddick's missed catches. The Astros had the bases loaded with one out and Correa and McCann strike out. Astros lose 7-6.

*That said, the Astros put up six runs on a contender on the road with Altuve and Springer on the bench.

*Trevor Bauer was asked how he's 6-0 against the Astros. Bauer:
Random variation. It won't continue. At some point, it will break.

*Lance McCullers struggles last night further highlight his road v home splits

*Jose Altuve was not in the starting lineup last night, but it appears to be a precautionary measure.

*Jack Mayfield was promoted to Fresno yesterday seemingly in response to Tony Kemp's call-up to replace Teoscar Hernandez, who was placed on the 10-Day DL. Mayfield - a 2B - was hitting .258/.310/.455 for Corpus.

*I wrote about the 34 teams since 2000 that started out 14-6 or better.

*Brady Rodgers - seriously the lone bright spot in Fresno's currently-God-awful rotation - left his last start with "an arm issue." Rodgers has thrown 16.1IP, 14H/2ER, 11K:1BB. Fresno's pitching staff currently has a 5.71 ERA/1.74 WHIP.

*Felix Hernandez was put on the 10-Day DL with shoulder inflammation. So was Mitch Haniger.

*The familiar lousiness of the ESPN layoffs.

*Pray for Wayne Dolcefino.

PreStros Report: Games of April 26

Fresno was off.

Corpus (12-7) never trailed in a 5-3 win over Midland. Rogelio Armenteros threw 4.2IP, 4H/2ER, 5K:2BB. Andrew Thome and Michael Freeman combined for 4.1, 3H/1ER, 4K:4BB. Garrett Stubbs was 3x4 with a double; J.D. Davis was 2x4 with a solo home run - his 5th of the season; Jon Singleton was 1x3 with a two-run homer and a walk.

Buies Creek played a double-header to make up for Tuesday's rainout. Game 1 saw BCA and Winston-Salem trade 5-run innings, with Winston-Salem coming out on top in a 12-6 win. Alex Winkelman got touched up for the first time this season, allowing 6H/5ER, 0K:1BB in 0.2IP. Sebastian Kessay allowed 4H/5R (4ER), 1K:2BB in 2.2IP. Jason Martin (2RBI), Kyle Tucker (2B, RBI), and Dexture McCall (2B, RBI) had two hits each. Anthony Hermelyn was 1x2 with a walk and an RBI.

In Game 2, BCA jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the top of the 1st and beat Winston-Salem 5-3. Justin Ferrell allowed 3H/1ER, 7K:2BB in 5IP; Gabriel Valdez gave up 3H/2ER, 2K:0BB in 2IP. Johnny Sewald was 3x4 with three doubles and an RBI; Kyle Tucker was 2x3 with a triple and 3RBI.

Quad Cities (11-9) cruised to a 6-1 win over Peoria. Carson LaRue threw 5IP, 4H/0ER, 4K:2BB and Abdiel Santana allowed 4H/1ER, 4K:1BB in 3IP. Rodrigo Ayarza was 2x3 with two doubles and 2RBI. Stephen Wrenn was 2x4 with a double; Ronnie Dawson, Jake Rogers, and Randy Cesar all hit home runs. Daz Cameron was 1x3 with a double and a walk to improve his slash line to .191/.288/.412.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

14-6

A couple of days ago I wrote about the importance of getting out to a strong start, and the correlation of that start to making the playoffs. Essentially, 21 of the 25 AL playoff teams since the advent of the 2nd Wild Card that started out at least 10-10 went on to make the playoffs.

But 14-6 is a little bit different of a start, and a little more rare. Note, this has data from 2000-2016, so there are 17 seasons worth of data. Is it comprehensive? No. Is it an arbitrary endpoint? Of course it is. Also note that the 2nd Wild Card was added in 2012. 

34 teams started a season from 2000-2016 at 14-6 or better. The best record after 20 games among these teams belonged to the 2003 Yankees, who started the season 17-3. Nineteen teams started 14-6, nine teams started 15-5, five started 16-4, and the aforementioned Yankees started the season 17-3. 

Together these 34 teams averaged a 91.7-70.4 record. This includes everyone from the 2001 Mariners, who went 116-46 all the way to the 2011 Rockies, who managed to turn a 14-6 start into a 73-89 season. 

But a 14-6 start is not a guaranteed record for October baseball. 13 of the 34 teams (38.2%) that started 14-6 did not make the playoffs. That said, 30 of the 34 teams at least ended up with a winning record for the season. Two of those exceptions have come in each of the last two seasons: the 2016 White Sox (78-84) and the 2015 Tigers (74-87). There were four teams that started at least 14-6, went on to win at least 85 games, and still missed the playoffs. Two teams - the 2003 Mariners (93-69) and the 2006 White Sox (90-72) - won 90 games and missed the playoffs...but had they played more recently, they both would have won the 2nd Wild Card. A third team, the 2001 Twins, went 85-77 but would have won the 2nd Wild Card spot, too. 

Eighteen of the 34 teams (52.9%) of these teams won their division. Another three won a Wild Card spot. So Math tells us that 61.8% of the teams that started out at least 14-6 made the playoffs. Adding those three teams that would have won the 2nd Wild Card pushes the playoff percentage of 14-6 teams to 70.6%.What this does not predict, because the playoffs are a complete and total crapshoot, is World Series success.

Only four of the 34 teams went on to win the World Series: the 2004 Red Sox, 2005 White Sox (/spits), the 2015 Royals, and the 2016 Cubs. The 2012 Rangers lost in the Wild Card game and ten more teams did not win their Division Series. Three teams were knocked out in their respective Championship Series. Two teams lost in the World Series: the 2015 Mets (to the Royals) and the 2003 Yankees lost the World Series to the Marlins.

What does it mean for the Astros? As I concluded the other day, there's still 142 games to play and 19 of those games are against those witches up I-45, so who's to say? But their hot start does have correlation to postseason success, even if it's not guaranteed. 

Here's the link to the spreadsheet I used for the data.

(This post has been updated to remove the 2015 Astros from the list. They were 13-7 through 20, not 14-6.)

Wednesday Morning Hot Links + PreStros Report

*The Astros beat the Indians after Cleveland hit for the Keuchel: 9IP, 6H/2ER, 5K:3BB. Once again, both Indians runs were solo homers. Keuchel has allowed five earned runs in 37IP this season, and four of those runs were solo home runs. Astros win 4-2.

*Keuchel:
There were a ton of great defensive plays behind me tonight, and I owe a lot to the defense. I honestly didn't think I was going to do very well just based on how I felt in the bullpen and how it started.

*Also Keuchel:
I think everybody's just kind of sick of talking about last year and how bad we were. So everybody's coming out ready to prove some stuff and then make a playoff run. That's it. Everybody comes to the park ready to go.

*Jose Altuve and Teoscar Hernandez were involved in a scary collision that may land Teoscar on the DL.

*The injury to Hernandez put Springer back into game action for the first time since Saturday.

*Statcast highlights that hitters aren't making nearly the contact on Lance McCullers' changeup in 2017 as they did in 2016.

*Jake Marisnick was placed on the 7-Day DL with a concussion and Teoscar Hernandez has been called up to take his spot.

*Scroll down far enough and you'll read Ken Rosenthal write that Gurriel looks more comfortable at the plate and "is mature enough to understand that he's a good hitter first, not a slugger."

*The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon, who has a hard time keeping Jeff Luhnow's name out of his mouth, says the "deliberate losing is finally paying off." Gordon also spelled Dallas Keuchel's name wrong. Twice.

*SI: Hunter Greene is the star baseball needs.

*Bob Grossman figured out how to hit lefties.

PreStros Report: Games of April 25

Pitching has been an issue for the Grizzlies (PCL-worst 5.71 ERA / PCL-worst 1.74 WHIP) and yesterday was no different in a 9-7 loss to Salt Lake. Edison Frias allowed 4H/5ER, 3K:4BB; Reymin Guduan (0.2IP) and Dayan Diaz (1.2IP) each allowed 3H/2ER. Jordan Jankowski was the only effective reliever, retiring all five batters he faced. Derek Fisher was 3x5 with a double and a solo homer. Reid Brignac was 2x4 with a triple and 3RBI, Andrew Aplin was 2x3 with 2RBI and Tony Kemp was 2x5 with a stolen base. Colin Moran and Max Stassi were each 1x3 with a double, RBI and two walks.

Corpus (12-7) got a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th from Ramon Laureano in a 4-3 Hooks win. Dean Deetz killed it again, this time with 5IP, 2H/0ER, 3K:1BB. Kent Emanuel gave up all three runs in 2.2IP. Riley Ferrell allowed 0H/0ER, 3K:3BB in 3IP and Andrew Thome got the win with 1.1IP, 0H/0ER relief. Drew Ferguson was 4x6 with a double, Jon Singleton was 2x3 with a double, two walks, 2RBI; Jack Mayfield was 2x5.

Buies Creek's game at Winston-Salem was postponed due to rain.

Peoria put up four in the top of the 2nd inning and never trailed in a 9-5 win over Quad Cities. All four Quad Cities pitchers allowed at least one earned run, with Dustin Hunt getting the start and lasting just 1.1IP, 3H/4ER, 1K:3BB. Ronnie Dawson was 2x4 with a homer, walk, and 3RBI. Alex De Goti and Marcos Almonte (BB, RBI) each had two hits.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

*Flick has four Astros Bingo cards for your leisure during the Cleveland series.

*Richard Justice says this Astros/Indians series is a "prime AL showdown" and has a tale of the tape.

*40-year old Carlos Beltran feels blessed.

*Dallas Keuchel is generating ground balls at a 70% clip - far better than his 2014 Cy Young season.

*The Chicken & Waffle Cone made Mental Floss' list of outrageous ballpark foods.

*I wrote about the importance of the first 20 games of the season.

*Power Rankings update! FanRag: 4th. ESPN: 1st. What?

*Check out the Hardball Times' review of Keith Law's new book. Then go buy it.

*Travis Sawchik: The new generation of ballparks is pushing us away.

*Tommy Stokke has a good look at Mike Foltynewicz

*Inside the data-driven program that helped revive Dan Straily's career.

PreStros Report: Game of April 24

Fresno was down 9-0 by the time they got on the board to Salt Lake, but managed to make it interesting in a 12-9 loss.  Keegan Yuhl got roughed up, allowing 10H/9R (8ER), 0K:2BB in 4IP. Tyson Perez threw two shutout innings before Ryan Thompson allowed 6H/3ER, 2K:0BB in 2IP. Position Player Andrew Aplin threw a hitless/scoreless 9th inning. A.J. Reed was 2x4 with a walk and 3RBI; Colin Moran was 2x5 with a homer and 3RBI; Tyler White was 1x4 with a walk and a two-run home run.

Midland beat the dog piss out of Corpus (10-7), holding the Hooks to two hits in a 9-0 loss. Kyle Smith, Eric Peterson, and Jacob Dorris combined for 8.1IP, 14H/8ER, 10K:3BB. Jack Mayfield and Jamie Ritchie had the only hits, while six different Hooks walked.

Buies Creek was off.

Quad Cities (10-8) poured it on Peoria in a 14-4 win. Hector Perez threw 4.1IP, 2H/1ER, 4K:4BB; Ryan Hartman threw 3.2IP, 4H/2ER, 3K:2BB. Lucas Williams allowed a run in the 9th. Ray Henderson-Lozano was 2x5 with a pair of home runs and 3RBI. Jake Rogers (2B, HR, BB, 2RBI), Stephen Wrenn (BB, RBI), and Rodrigo Ayarza (RBI) had two hits each. Ronnie Dawson was 1x4 with two walks and 2RBI.