Friday, June 24, 2016

The damage done by Edinson Volquez

On July 1, 2015 the Astros hosted the Kansas City Royals.

George Springer was 1x2 with a stolen base and a run scored when he faced Edinson Volquez for the 3rd time of the game in the 5th inning. Volquez drilled him in the wrist, which fractured Springer's wrist, and knocked him out until September 4.

Springer was hitting .264/.365/.457 with 13 homers, 14 doubles, and 14 stolen bases at the time of the HBP. The Astros won that game against the Royals - 6-5 - to improve to a 47-34 record, five games up in the division. But in the ten games remaining before the All-Star Break the Astros would go 2-8, losing two of three at Boston, three of four at Cleveland, and getting swept by Tampa Bay. Six of those losses were by 1-2 runs.

Over the 53 games that Springer missed in his recovery from Volquez's pitch the Astros would go 26-27 and trade for Carlos Gomez, in part partially because an ineffective Jake Marisnick was getting significant playing time in the outfield.

From Right Field the Astros got .260/.346/.441 from the beginning of the 2015 season to the end of the Volquez game on July 1. From the next game until Springer's return Astros RFs put up a .224/.280/.353 line.

When Springer returned to the lineup on September 4 the Astros were 73-61, still with a two-game lead in the AL West. He would hit .304/.373/.464 in the 27 regular season games before the playoffs began and of course the Astros went 12-15 in those games because the bullpen was absolutely terrible. The Astros didn't lose their lead in the division until September 15, and 11 of their losses from September 1 through the end of the regular season were charged to various members of the bullpen.

I'm not saying that Edinson Volquez took the division away from the Astros - the Astros did that on their own just fine - but Volquez's HBP took out a significant part of the Astros' lineup and impacted how the team was constructed in an effort to keep their feet down on the division.