Friday, May 4, 2018

Friday Morning Hot Links

I got nothin', man. I didn't get to see the game (because I'm a dummy and I left a job where I could take in day games), so I was only tangentially aware that the Astros did actually score runs - plural. I don't have any HAWTTAKEZ on who's to blame. Sorry.

*The Astros went 28 innings played between runs. They went 4-6 on the homestand. The Astros still have not won a game in which they trailed by 2+ runs. Houston is tied with Anaheim for 1st place in the AL West.

*Lance McCullers retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.

*Bottom of the 9th, 2 on, 2 out: Chapman vs Altuve. Boone:
I said, 'This is pretty good, isn't it?' This is great. This is what you live for, right? This is our best against the reigning MVP, a game on the line. Embrace that, love it. And our guys do.

Let's dive into this a little further, shall we? Here's each reliever's performance this homestand:

Brad Peacock: 2IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:1BB
Ken Giles: 3.1IP, 4H/4ER, 5K:0BB
Collin McHugh: 3.1IP, 1H/0ER, 5K:0BB
Chris Devenski: 3.1IP, 2H/0ER, 6K:0BB
Joe Smith: 2.2IP, 7H/7ER, 4K:1BB
Will Harris: 2IP, 3H/3ER, 2K:1BB
Hector Rondon: 2.2IP, 3H/1ER, 1K:3BB
Tony Sipp: 1.1IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:0BB

I'm missing an inning somewhere. Probably doesn't matter, maybe it does. I literally don't care. But I guess the logical conclusion is that we need more Tony Sipp. You can point to Hinch pulling Devenski after 12 pitches in favor of Will Harris but Hinch has been on record saying that he's going to limit Devenski's innings earlier in the season in favor of keeping him fresh come September and October and Will Harris had allowed two earned runs coming into tonight so...bad day to have a bad day.

But let's be real here: if you take out Joe Smith (again, I know you can't do that, but still, it's a thought exercise) then the Astros bullpen threw 19IP, 14H/8ER - a 3.79 ERA - and that's INCLUDING Giles' awful no good very bad horrible day. Let's take out Joe Smith.

*Giles was magnanimous in how the bullpen situation played out yesterday.

*The Astros only had one extra-base hit - Correa's home run in the 8th. Houston has 33 home runs through 33 games. At the same point in 2017 they had 45 home runs.

*Jose Altuve was 0x5 with 2Ks. You have to go back all the way to April 24 to find his last 0x5 game - the last time he was held hitless in a game. In between he was 10x27. The most concerning thing - if you're looking for something to be concerned about - is that Altuve has five doubles and two home runs all season. He's gone five games without an extra-base hit. Altuve has five extra-base hits in his last 21 games.

*Yankees play-by-play guy Michael Kay: The Astros are the team to beat. And the Yankees did, three times out of four.

*Boone, on a potential post-season matchup:
We think we're a really good team, we know they're a great team and any time, here or [in New York], we know we have to be at our best to beat them. And I think that was the case here.

*Here we go again. Arizona, who is 21-10, just hosted the Dodgers and split a four-game series. Now here come the Astros, making Arizona the first team in MLB history to host the previous year's World Series participants in consecutive series. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo:
I think what our mindset here is that we love challenges. We accept challenges. We have the L.A. Dodgers within our division and right behind them we have the World Series champs. What better situation could you walk into to evaluate yourself individually and then collectively. This is how we are stacking up...It will be a good gauge for us, and I think that is something this entire group embraces.

Back in March I wrote a Thing saying that there's nothing that statistically to indicate a World Series Hangover. I still think I'm right. But what I did not entertain was the idea - and I've alluded to this before in this space - that, when you're the defending champs, every team plays their absolute best because they're measuring themselves against you. Don't get me wrong, I think every Major League Baseball player, and Bartolo Colon, tries their hardest most of the time. I think there's a grind involved with the travel and the wear and tear of playing 162 games in 180 days that we, as fans under-appreciate. But there has to be a difference between playing those 162 games against MLB teams, and then playing 162 games against MLB teams that are using you as a measuring stick. Hitters are more locked in, pitchers have a little extra life on their stuff.

*This is going to be a fun narrative all season. North Jersey newspaper The Record asked if Lance McCullers had some sticky substance on his cleats. Lance responded (if you're at work, maybe throw your earbuds in; if you're at home, maybe wait until The Kids are brushing their teeth):

*Why are the Astros hitting so much better on the road? Hinch:
I remember answering these questions in 2015, and 2016 was the opposite - it's gone back and forth with this group. I don't know if it's subconsciously we see the [short left-field] porch, the Crawford Boxes, and try to hit the ball out of the ballpark. It's weird, it's very unusual.

*Tags ranks McCullers' curve as one of the best pitches in the AL West.

*A.J. Hinch would totally play an international series.

*Patrick Dubuque wrote an essay in Baseball Prospectus about Ken Giles, self-harm, fatherhood, and forgiveness.

*Welcome to Double-A, Corbin Martin. Martin was making his Hooks debut in Midland last night and threw 0.1IP, 5H/6ER, 0K:1BB in a 12-6 loss. To be fair, four of the five hits were singles and one inherited runner for Chris Nunn scored. Nunn allowed two doubles, a triple, and a home run.

*Buies Creek's Large Son Brett Adcock (4th Round - 2016) threw 6IP, 2H/0ER, 8K:1BB in a 4-2 BCA win last night. Adcock's last two starts: 10IP, 2H/0ER, 17K:2BB.

*The Houston Chronicle's Joe Holley wrote a book called "Hurricane Season: The Unforgettable Story of the 2017 Houston Astros and the Resilience of a City." Houston Press:
[Holley] brilliantly alters chapters detailing the destruction of Harvey and its aftermath with summaries of each of the Series games. And the latter are written engagingly enough to engage the non-sports fan readers.


*There is absolutely nothing of value for the Astros' section of Jon Heyman's Inside Baseball column. I envision Heyman trying to call some people in the Astros' front office for some Inside Baseball Tings (sic), getting sent to voicemail, and opening up Baseball-Reference. "Hm!" he audibly allows. "Gerrit Cole is pretty good!" [types furiously at keyboard].

*FanGraphs' Craig Edwards makes the valid point that competitive imbalance is not the same as tanking. Teams can be bad without trying to be bad.

*The Hardball Times' Michael Lopez and Sadie Lewis took a look at how the strike zone varies from umpire to umpire

*Fare thee well, Ichiro.

*Someone was regularly dropping deuces on the high school track. Cops set up a sting (?) and found that it was the superintendent.