Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday Morning Hot Links

It's US History STAAR Test Day so I've been up since 2am drinking coffee and eating nails. Pretty cool that my job performance will be influenced by at least 20 kids who would unplug their mom's ventilator if it meant they could charge their phone.

The Astros won yesterday 4-1, sweeping Oakland in the three-game series. Gerrit Cole didn't have double-digit strikeouts so he's obviously trending downwards. Stassi and Fisher went back-to-back, derailing what was a pretty solid Daniel Menhaden start. Gurriel drove in two more runs and Ken Giles threw a perfect inning and got his second save in two days. Make sure you check Jexas' series recap.

Hinch, on the back-to-back jacks:
Those were two big ones, especially the bottom of our order. We've talked about that being a big part of our offense and then seeing those guys come through at a time where Gerrit [gave up a run in the sixth] by mere inches on a double down the line was a big response by us.

*Derek Fisher's home run had an exit velocity of 110mph, joining Springer and Correa as the only Astros to hit a ball that hard. In the last 15 days Fisher is hitting .263/.263/.789.

*Holy crap the Astros actually stole a base. It was their 2nd successful stolen base in seven attempts in their last 18 games. And wait, an Astros catcher actually threw someone out when they were trying to steal a base? It was the first CS by an Astros catcher since April 20. Opponents were 8x8 stealing bases in that span, and are 15x18 this season.

*Great article by Bruce Jenkins in the San Francisco Chronicle on Oakland, and aspiring to be Houston.

*Please tell me you saw Flick's return to AC with his Astros as Birds piece. It deserves an award.

*The Astros have played 26 games in the last 27 days. Freakin Minnesota has played 32 games all season. I actually wonder if all the weather cancellations early in the season is going to end up benefiting the Astros at some point because of the impending double-headers and now-cancelled off days for other AL teams. Regard, the number of games played in the American League:

39: Houston, South Denison
37: Toronto, Oakland
36: Red Sox, Yankees, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Anaheim
35: Seattle
34: Tampa, Chicago
32: Minnesota

In a schedule where there's already a shortage of days off, the Astros have already played 24.1% of their games. Other teams are going to have to make those up later in the season while the Astros get to actually rest on their off-days.

In The Athletic

*I took a brief-ish look at Derek Fisher and Kyle Tucker and how 2018 Fisher (which is getting better!) is a warning sign for promoting Tucker to replace him.

*To that end, Jake Kaplan has a minor-league notebook that took a look at Tucker. Luhnow:
I would say he's definitely tracking toward a call-up this year. But I wouldn't say he's dominating to the point where we feel like we have to add him because we're missing out on production that we should be getting.

There are notes on Frankie Tuesday's arm injury, Myles Straw, and MORE.

*Also from Kaplan: How a sleep apnea diagnosis led to a breakout season for Josh James.

Back to Free Stuff

*Justin Verlander is a Man of Routine. The number of starts he's made in his career, by Days' Rest:

4: 198
5: 129
6: 7
7: 4

So that's worth mentioning that 71 of Verlander's 119 starts since 2013 (59.7%) were on four days' rest, a slight uptick from the 58.9% of starts he's made on four days' rest over his, yes, Hall of Fame career. Interestingly enough, it moves Verlander out of the rotation for both Cleveland series. He won't face the Indians at all in the regular season if he goes every fifth game.

And so the Astros are going to bump Morton, Keuchel, and McCullers - who don't have the cleanest medical histories - back a day to keep Verlander on his routine and navigate the spate of off-days coming up. Hinch:
This helps Charlie have an extra day, and maybe get an extra throwing session in and keeps JV on regular rest for the next two turns, and we'll deal with the next couple of off-days later.

The Astros have off-days today (and what will we do? Probably watch the Preds/Jets Game 7), next Thursday, and the following Monday. Interestingly enough, it moves Verlander out of the rotation in both Cleveland series.

*Of note: Oakland's Dustin Fowler popped up in his pinch-hit appearance. That's normally not notable, but it was Fowler's first career PA in the Majors. It wasn't his first career MLB game, though. It was Fowler who had been called up to the Yankees last June to make his debut when, in the bottom of the 1st, he hit a railing making a defensive play and ruptured a tendon in his knee. He was due to lead off the next inning.

*J.D. Davis is on a tear. Through 100 ABs he's hitting .450/.500/.680 with 14 doubles and three home runs. In his current 12-game hitting streak he's 27x49 (.551) with twelve extra-base hits.

*Humble's Fran Linton will be the Astros' "Honorary Bat Girl" on Mother's Day.

*Yahoo's Mike Oz has a video thing called Old Baseball Cards. It's wonderful. This time, it's Luis Gonzalez featuring a story about Caminiti and Bagwell.

*Miles Mikolas, Adam Duvall, and the oddest plate appearance of 2018.

*Here's a list of every known instance of a team batting out of turn.

Off-Day Playoff Odds Check

FanGraphs: 100-62. 92.5% to win the AL West, 98.2% to make the playoffs, 24.9% to win the WS
FiveThirtyEight: 99-63. 71% to win the AL West, 88% to make the playoffs, 16% to win the WS
Baseball Prospectus: 96-66. 85.5% to win the AL West, 95.5% to make the playoffs, 16.4% to win the WS.

Worth noting that FiveThirtyEight has the Astros at 99 wins, five games behind the Yankees for the AL's best record.