Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Dallas Keuchel pitched into the 8th inning and the Astros enjoyed a 4-run 8th inning on their way to a 6-2 series-opening win over Seattle yesterday evening in a merciful 5:40pm Central start time. The Astros are 4-0 in September and have their first five-game winning streak since getting that 11W from May 25-June 5. They are 84-53 with a 13.5-game lead on Anaheim and a 3.0-game lead on Cleveland, who won for the 12th time in a row. There are 25 games remaining.

*Keuchel: 7.2IP, 7H/2ER, 5K:2BB. He got 15 groundball outs. Keuchel:
The last starts, I kind of lost my cool a little bit, and that's what led to a lot of runs. And I told myself not to do that ever again and let the guys rely on me to get it going. Everything is a lot more fun and more loose, like we were playing earlier this year. 

His ability to get the ball on the ground was incredible, and even a couple of the hits early he gave up the first run on were ground balls. That's vintage Dallas when he's good - he's throwing strikes, he's down in the zone, he challenges them with balls having to be put in play on the ground.

*The last time an Astros starting pitcher pitched into the 8th? Mike Fiers, June 10.

*Alex Bregman hit a bases-loaded 2-run double down the line after the Mariners intentionally walked George Springer to get to him. Bregman:
They decided to walk Springer. He's been driving the ball...I was just fortunate enough to put a good swing on the ball and thankful to come through for my teammates.

After intentionally walking Altuve to reload the bases, Reddick went ahead and hit a 2-run single.

*Altuve has been held hitless in consecutive games for the fourth time this season, third since August 1.

So when might the Astros clinch the division? With 16 of their remaining 25 games on the road, you need some luck to catch the Astros celebrate their first division title since 2001. But let's try to figure it out. Magic number is 12 (Ed. Note: I'm not responsible for faulty math here. Well, I am, but don't hold it against me, this stuff is hard):

-If the Astros and Angels match records from here on out, the Astros would clinch the division when there are 12 games remaining, which would be September 20 - a home game against Chicago.
-Ah! but there are three games at Anaheim between now and then. Let's say the Angels take two of three but match records from that point forward. That would still put the clinch date on September 21 against the White Sox.
-If the Astros sweep the Angels on the road, pushing their lead to a proposed 16.5 games, there's a chance they could clinch in the 3rd and final game of the Angels series on September 14.
-In fact, barring some sort of weirdness (good or bad) games 147-155, Sept 15-24, are home games and represent the most likely time frame for the division championship.
-While it would likely mean that the Astros lost home field advantage throughout the AL side of the playoffs, it would be nice if the Astros clinched the division Sept 25-27 at Southeast Denton in the series that the Rangers didn't want to switch. But I'd rather go ahead and just win the best overall record in the American League.

*Dallas Keuchel made his 4th error of the season last night, having committed four errors in his career before this season.

*Mike Fiers was removed from the rotation to make way for Verlander/McCullers. It was inevitable, really. In his last eight starts (dating back to July 26) Fiers threw 41IP, 48H/36ER, 34K:22BB for a 7.90 ERA/1.56 WHIP. He got 18 outs in just three of his last eight starts. Hinch:
Every starting pitcher is built to want to start games, and I told him, you know, we wouldn't be in the position we're in now if he hadn't taken over and really stepped forward when we needed it the most. He had an incredible stretch in the middle of the season that solidified a lot of what we're doing and kept us going in the right direction with the injuries. I thanked him for that. 

Hinch is exactly right. In the ten starts between his first demotion-just-kidding-welcome-back (May 30-July 21), Fiers threw 61IP, 43H/16ER, 69K:21BB, 2.36 ERA/1.05 WHIP. The Astros were 7-3 in those starts. But then it sort of fell apart from July 26-present. Here's how the rest of the rotation compares dating back to July 26:

Morton: 41IP, 34H/18ER, 47K:14BB, 3.95 ERA/1.17 WHIP
McHugh: 39.2IP, 37H/12ER, 38K:12BB, 2.72 ERA/1.24 WHIP
Keuchel: 38.2IP, 41H/23ER, 28K:17BB, 5.35 ERA/1.50 WHIP
Peacock: 37.2IP, 39H/17ER, 44K:11BB, 4.06 ERA/1.33 WHIP

Keuchel is looking a little more like Keuchel as of late, and Peacock is likely back to the bullpen. Why?

1st time hitters face Peacock, 2017: .130/.216/.159, 52K:14BB
2nd time hitters face Peacock, 2017: .276/.357/.386, 45K:15BB
3rd time hitters face Peacock, 2017: .358/.449/.627, 17K:11BB

So it makes sense for Peacock to be super-effective for 3IP and then out rather than Peacock to be super-effective for 3IP and then pray he can get to the 6th inning.

*Michael Feliz threw a scoreless inning yesterday for Quad Cities in his first rehab outing since August 22.

*Max Stassi was activated from the DL.

*The remaining call-ups will be the rehabbing Evan Gattis and Michael Feliz, and James Hoyt.

*Francisco Liriano gave up his #35 to Verlander for nothing.

*Dayan Diaz was claimed off waivers by the Angels, but it makes more sense for you to think that he was a PTBNL for Cameron Maybin

*George Springer is partnering with his hometown New Britain Bees for a Pack the Truck event on Friday night for supplies to help Southeast Texas recover.

*The Mariners will collect donations to help Harvey victims on Wednesday.

*If this doesn't perfectly summarize Collin McHugh, I don't know what does: When the Astros players started texting each other that they had acquired Verlander, Carlos Correa broke his PS4, George Springer was watching a movie with his fiancee, Jose Altuve was eating dinner, and Collin McHugh...was asleep. Verlander will only have his fiancee in the crowd for tonight's Astros debut:
You know how hard it was for people to try to get here. [Seattle] is the farthest I could have been. It's just as well. It's going to be so nerve-wracking. I know I'll be so nervous. It'll be like Opening Day. It really doesn't matter if you win on Opening Day, but that game's so nerve-wracking because it's new.

*Fresno finished their season with a 9-7 win over Salt Lake yesterday afternoon. A.J. Reed was 3x5 with his 34th home run of the season - breaking Fresno's single-season home run record and giving Reed his second Minor-League Home Run title. At 77-65, it's Fresno's third winning season in a row (all as an Astros affiliate). It's the Astros' Triple-A affiliate's (between Fresno and OKC) 6th winning season in a row. The 2017 Grizzlies set franchise records for runs (853), RBIs (805), and home runs (200). Tony Kemp led all of Triple-A baseball with 166 hits.

*Derek Fisher was named to the All-PCL Team.

*Corpus needed a win and a Midland loss to make the Texas League playoffs, and held up their end of the deal with a 2-0 win over San Antonio. But Midland beat Frisco - seriously the Rangers as an organization is good for nothing - to take the final spot.

So how did the Hooks finish the 2nd half with a 33-35 record, but lose a playoff spot to 32-36 Midland? Corpus lost the season series against Midland.

*Needing a win against the Rangers' High-A affiliate to make the playoffs, Buies Creek lost 10-3.

*Say what you want about ESPN's fellating of Aaron Judge, but 100 walks - especially as a rookie - is pretty impressive. Going into last night's game George Springer had a team-high 50 walks. No Astro has drawn 100+ walks in a season since Morgan Ensberg in 2006. There have been 16 100+ walk seasons in franchise history:
Jeff Bagwell: 7
Jimmy Wynn: 3
Lance Berkman: 3
Joe Morgan: 2
Morgan Ensberg: 1

*J.D. Martinez accomplished something more rare than a perfect game last night.

*Hope you're ready for 9:10pm Central tonight as Justin Verlander makes his Astros debut.