Saturday, May 20, 2023

Saturday Morning Hot Links

The Astros beat the Oakland Triple-A's last night 5-1 in a game that felt a whole lot closer than it should have been. The Astros are 25-19, winners of five straight and eight of their last nine games.

The 2022 Astros opened the season with a rotation of Framber-Odorizzi-Verlander-Urquidy-Garcia. They threw 758IP, 52% of the innings Astros pitchers threw in 2022. This year those five have combined to throw 111.2IP, 28.3% of the Innings.

*Oakland is 10-36, a .217 "winning" "percentage." Now, the worst record in Major League history belongs to the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who went 20-134 - a .130 winning percentage that saw them finish a wild-ass 84 games back. Jim Hughey, statistically the Spiders' best pitcher, posted a 4-30 record. Crazy Schmit went 2-17. Like, click that link. It's insane. 

But in the "Modern" Era (since 1901), Oakland's bastard grandfather, the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, hold the honor of the worst winning percentage, going 36-117 (.235) - get this - three years after winning the World Series. In June and July the 1916 A's went 5-47. 

After 46 games the 1916 A's were 15-30-1 (don't ask questions - I don't know). The 2023 A's are five games worse. This will be fun to keep track of every day for the rest of the season.

*Oakland starter Ken Waldichuk came into the game with a 7.02 ERA, though that's inflated by his first two starts of the season, in which he threw 8.2IP, 17H/14ER, 7K:4BB, 7HR allowed. In his next six starts, it was more respectable: 32.1IP, 35H/18ER, 29K:19BB - a 5.01 ERA / 1.67 WHIP. So of course the Astros lowered his season ERA to 6.85. 

*Kyle Tucker had a good night, hitting a two-run shot in the 6th Inning to put the Astros up 4-1 - his first homer since May 5. He ended the night going 2x3 with a double, homer, walk. On May 9, Tucker's slash line was .264/.358/.440. Since then, he's hitting .355/.382/.613. 

The last couple of games, I've felt a little better at the plate with something I've been doing in the cage and trying to bring it out to the field. I feel good at the plate right now.

*Jake Meyers went 2x2 with 2BB - the first time in his career he's been on base four times in a single game. 

*Yordan Alvarez - whom, you'll remember, the Astros acquired in a trade with the Dodgers for Josh Fields - was 2x5 with a double. He's hitting .317/.388/.567 in May, and nine of his last 19 hits have been for extra-bases. He's at a season-high six games without a home run. His 417-foot double in the 4th Inning would have been a home run in 25 of the 30 MLB parks. (Also worth noting that Martin Maldonado's bases-loaded liner to left that was impressively tracked down by JJ Bleday was 105.1mph off the bat and had an xBA of .520).

*Jose Abreu went 1x2 with two walks and a run scored. It's the second time this season that Abreu has drawn two walks in a game. He has raised his OPS 29 points from .515 to .544 in this four-game home stand. His 110.1mph single in the 2nd Inning was the hardest-hit ball of the game, and his hardest-hit ball of the season.

*Jose Altuve was 0x4 with a walk in his season debut, featuring a GIDP. 

*The Astros left 10 men on base after going 2x12 w/RISP - including two innings of leaving the bases loaded. It doesn't feel like it, but the Astros are actually hitting .278/.349/.450 with runners in scoring position - above-average, relative to the rest of the league.

*Brandon Bielak had a nice outing, throwing 5IP for the second straight game, allowing 5H/1ER, 9K:3BB. The nine strikeouts are a career-high, breaking his previous high of 6K, which he had done twice, most recently on May 1. Bielak's last two starts: 10IP, 13H/2ER, 13K:3BB. McTaggart notes that his changeup has been the key to Bielak's recent success.

*Phil Maton extended his impressive start to the season, throwing another scoreless outing - the 17th such outing in 19 appearances. That said, he has allowed at least one baserunner in each of his last seven appearances. 

*Rafael Montero: 1IP, 1H/0ER, 1K:1BB. His last clean outing was on April 28 - nine appearances ago.

*Luis Garcia officially underwent Tommy John Surgery yesterday.

*Mauricio Dubon got some pre-game work in at 1B.

He's ready, man. Wow, beautiful swing, made some good plays...I really love the way him and a few more guys on that team are ready to play in the big leagues.

*Jose Urquidy may start throwing again next week.

*The Score's Travis Sawchuk has a bizarre article about the Astros "decline."

*GQ: The Controversial King of Hardcore Climbing.

*Financial Times: The Secret Lives of MI6's Top Female Spies.

*A Musical Selection, from The Sundays and lead singer Harriet Wheeler - whom I have had a crush on for over 25 years: