Sunday, August 19, 2018

Reinforcing the Astros - August 17 and 18

The Astros lead in the AL West has now entirely evaporated, along with any of this "run scoring" thing that the stats nerds are so obsessed with these days.  The argument that the Astros could do with some reinforcing is a strong one - in particular the roles of Evan Gattis (.194/.206/.452 in August), Yuli Gurriel (.183/.221/.268 over the last 28 days) and Josh Reddick (.200/.263/.343 in August) would be in danger from Tyler White and a cast of others... if only anyone were to be tearing the cover off the ball.  Stay posted to find out if any of the Astros farmhands are, in fact, doing that...

Corpus Christi:  Corpus managed a rare come-from-behind victory in their August 17 game against Springfield, winning by a score of 5-3.  Both teams managed only five hits - for Corpus that involved two hits to RF Stephen Wrenn (2-4, 2B, HR) and 3B Abraham Toro (2-4).  Anibal Sierra went 1-3 and was caught stealing, while DH Carmen Benedetti and LF Chas McCormick both walked once.

On the pitching side of the equation, Brandon Bielak threw 5IP, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks, which resulted in 2 runs but only one of those was earned.  He allowed a home run, as did the guy who replaced him (Brett Adcock), who allowed 2 hits, 1 walk and struck out 4.  Kit Scheetz finished the game with a perfect ninth, striking out two.

Springfield got their revenge on the Hooks during the August 18 game, with a two-run bottom of the ninth.  Corpus lost by a score of 4-3, after they scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead.  Corbin Martin got the start, and he laboured through four-and-one-third, needing 81 pitches to do so.  He allowed 3 hits and 3 walks, while striking out three, allowing 2 runs on two home runs.  Alex Winkelman finished the fifth inning for Martin without incident while striking out one, then Ryan Hartman finished the game with three-and-one-third innings of 3 hit, 1 walk, 3 strikeout ball before allowing a 2-run walk off home run to something called a Johan Mieses.

Earlier, despite stringing together 11 hits and two walks, Corpus only managed to amass three runs.  RF Stephen Wrenn (2-4, 2B, BB), CF Ronnie Dawson (2-5), C Eduardo de Oleo (2-4, HR) and DH Chas McCormick (2-4) all managed multi-hit games.  Randy C├ęsar was on base twice (1-3, BB) and 3B Abraham Toro and 2B Ryne Birk both went 1-4.

We have been mentioning Abraham Toro's name a bit lately, so I think it may be time to spill some ink arrange some pixels in his honour.  He is a switch-hitting infielder who ranks somewhere in the 20's in the Astros system, according to FanGraphs.  Also, according to FanGraphs, his walk rate and ISO have been impressive in spurts at AA, after he was promoted earlier in the season.  He is still only 21, so he remains young for the AA level.

I guess the reason that we are mentioning Toro is because of his last 10 games.  Over that time, he has 38 plate appearances, in which he has walked once and struck out 9 times.  He also has 15 hits (.405 average) and one home run.  His overall line for the season is only .237/.320/.389 at AA, so he nearly certainly isn't ready yet, but looking at how he is doing given the amount that we have mentioned him, having a look seems like a reasonable thing to do.  So consider Abraham Toro "reviewed".

Fresno:  Fresno smoked the Rainiers to the tune of an 8-1 victory on August 17.  Homering twice, for the second straight game, was one Jonathan Gregory Davis, otherwise illogically known as JD Davis.  That makes a .433 average with 7 HR in his last 10 games (some of which pre-date his most recent stint in the majors), but all 7 of those home runs have been hit in his last six games, which are all post-demotion.  All of this hitting (including this games' 3-4, 2xHR, BB, K) take his AAA line for the 2018 season to .349/.412/.604 in 308 plate appearances, with 58 strikeouts against 30 walks.  I was all for sending JD back down last time, but simply put, he is the hottest hitter in the Astros system right now.  By my calculations, he is eligible for a recall (barring an injury to an Astros player) on 20 August - so shortly.  Also of note, JD again played RF - in fact, all of his games since returning to Fresno have been in RF.  So there may be something brewing there for some time-share with Josh Reddick.

Talking of ex-Astros, LF Derek Fisher had himself a night as well - 4-5, 2B.  Myles Straw went 2-5 with a double.  3B Nick Tanielu went 1-3 with a walk and a double.  1B Taylor Jones went 2-4.  DH AJ Reed managed 1 hit out of 5 at bats, striking out 3 times.

Note is made that Fresno scored all eight runs off ex-Astros great David Rollins.  Current Astros great Trent Thornton pitched 6 innings, allowing 5H and 1BB, while striking out five.  The only run he allowed was on a home run.  Chris Devenski pitched an inning, allowing 2 hits while striking out the side.  Matt Ramsey finished with two scoreless innings.

On August 18, Fresno eeked out a tight win against the Rainiers by a score of 3-1.  Josh James got the start, which pretty much means that he will not replace Lance McCullers on Tuesday.  And he was, uh, inefficient, needing 107 pitches to get through four-and-two-thirds.  He worked around traffic, too, allowing 5 hits and walking 3, which striking out six.  He allowed the only run (unearned) that the Grizzly pitchers allowed.

Dean Deetz relieved, and he worked two-and-one-third scoreless, walking one and striking out two.  His ERA sits at 0.72 on the season.  Reymin Guduan walked two while retiring one, and Brendan McCurry allowed two hits in one-and-two-thirds scoreless, striking out one.

Let's get the important position-player information out of the way first.  JD Davis started in RF, and went 1-4 with a double.  But 2B Jack Mayfield was the offensive star, going 3-5 with a home run and a double.  Brian McCann caught, went 0-3, and was replaced by Jamie Ritchie, who went 2-2.  Hmmm.  3B Nick Tanielu went 2-4.  Myles Straw went 2-5.

So that brings us up-to-date with what is happening in the upper levels of the minor leagues.  Hope that this was informative.  Take home messages - JD Davis is belting the ball at the moment, and Josh James won't be called up to start on Tuesday, not after throwing 107 pitches in an inefficient outing.

Will look at other options for spot-starts tomorrow, but I think that the Astros will probably choose to bullpen it.