Saturday, May 9, 2015

Miscellaneous Stuff

Just a couple of little things that aren't worth an article on their own.
  • If you haven't read the Grantland article about the Astros, read it now.  Heavy on the stats, but it explains nicely how the pitchers work inside a philosophy  and what they need to do to be effective.  What is acknowledged in that article is that the team seems to be for real, and there are a number of areas where better performance could come from.
  • Speaking of how the Astro pitchers work, note what Ben Lindbergh says about the down-and-away pitch.  During the Astros' recent poor streak, I kind of lost track of the number of times I typed words to the effect of "leaked back over the plate".  The Astros pitchers don't have the velocity to get away with many mistakes, and perhaps being less effective on that pitch is part of the reason why the Rangers were made to look so good.
  • The article also mentions the vastly improved defence.  But really, is anyone surprised??  Heading into Opening Day, they had a much better defender in CF, a CF playing LF, and a totally re-worked 3B and SS.  Those were consistently the worst positions in terms of defence last year (aside from first base).  Carter and Altuve have been good on the right side of the infield, in fact, Jose Altuve ranks solidly on both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating (check the graphic), reversing the trend of previous years.  
  • Plus, they shift.  And the shifts seem to be paying off.  So I am not that surprised that their defensive efficiency is up this year.
  • Gregerson is off attending a family matter, and Asher Wojciechowski is up from AAA to act as the long man.  Chad Qualls is the interim closer, but I would like to nominate Will Harris instead.  The guy is awesome.
  • Brett Oberholtzer will assume the fifth spot in the rotation next time around.  The starting pitchers for the next few days are Keuchel (Sat), Feldman (Sun), off day Monday, McHugh (Tues) and Obie (Wednesday).  The "fifth spot" - the one vacated by Wojo and Deduno - was in fact the third spot in the rotation, with McHugh starting the fourth game beginning the year.  Hernandez was in the fifth slot, but I am guessing that the Astros were splitting their two best pitchers to preserve the bullpen, recognising that Feldman and Wojo were the most likely to get knocked out early.  Anyhow, the Astros effectively move the "fifth" slot back a day, so the new order would be Keuchel-Feldman-McHugh-Obie-Hernandez.  I imagine Obie will be limited to 90-odd pitches.
  • I know nothing about football, but I have been watching the Deflategate thing quite closely.  The propaganda and rhetoric is terrible.  In particular, the Tom Brady camp.  The initial ESPN article noted that "Wells said he was hindered by the quarterback's refusal to provide his own emails, texts or phone records".  The phone records and texts that were available were highly suggestive of the fact that Brady knew about and ordered the deflation, and rewarded the perpetrators.  Brady's agent, his father, and Brady himself all noted that there was "no evidence" of his involvement, and the first two attacked the foundations of the report and the writer.  But Brady's actions look like he has something to hide.  If he had forked over his electronic records and there had still been no evidence, then yeah, no evidence.  But the commissioner and the owner are buddies, and the Patriots are famous for pushing the rules to the very limit, so this will all blow over, and people will forget this ever happened.  Sigh.  
  • Update on the above comments:  Roger Goodell apparently is unimpressed by Brady's conduct, as well.  That news broke a few hours after this post went up.  Much of the penalty may be due to his conduct during the investigation, rather than his unprovable actions.
The Astros can at least tie the series from the Angels tomorrow, and run their last-10-games-on-the-road-record to 9-1.  Be sure to watch.