Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Well huh. That was an interesting one. Still, all's well that ends well except that NO IT'S NOT. Everyone is either Mad At Dusty, or Mad At Whoever Is Mad At Dusty, so that's what we're doing today. The Astros won a humdrum pre-holiday game against East Aledo, 12-11. Houston is 47-38, three games back, and have won six of their last eight games. 

But we'll get to that in a second, I have a formula here. 

Ramgers manager Bruce Bochy:

A lot of baseball left. We keep fighting like that, and we'll be fine...We have to put this series behind us. Very intense series, very intense game.


I'll take it. You still think about the game we didn't have in LA...But we rebounded from that tough loss. I'm glad we didn't have another tough loss today, because we've had probably a dozen tough losses. But this team's very resilient.

Kyle Tucker:

It was huge. They're a good team, and they're in first place in our division. Being able to come in and get three games out of them is huge. We've got to go home and finish out the first half strong.

*The Astros have two against Colorado starting tonight, and four against Seattle. The Rangers have three at Boston and have three at Washington before the All-Star Break. 

*On June 30, the day the Rangers series started, the Astros were at 32.9% to win the AL West. Now it's 38.2%, which is not nearly as dramatic as I was expecting.

*The Astros have scored 5+ runs in each of their last six wins. They've scored 10+ runs in three of their last six games. 

*The scoring for the Astros and Rangers in the first three games of the series: 12-11 Astros. The final score in the final game of the series: 12-11 Astros.

*Seven of the Astros' 13 hits were for extra-bases. The four home runs were the most in a game since June 13, when they hit four against the Nationals. It's the 5th time the Astros have hit four home runs in a game in 2023, and four of those games were on the road. Houston is 6-0 when they hit 3+ home runs in a game.

*Houston topped out at 98.2% to win the game after Jose Abreu's homer made it 10-2, before it was, you know, 100%. The Rangers were at 85.5% to win after Corey Seager's sac fly put the Rangers ahead.

*Kyle Tucker was 4x4 with a grand slam and an HBP. After an 0x10 stretch from June 19-21, Tucker has a 10-game hitting streak in which he's hitting .436/.511/.846, with four doubles, four homers, and 14 RBI. Houston's eight grand slams lead the Majors.

*Jose Abreu was 2x4 with a double, home run, and 4RBI. On this road trip, Abreu played in nine games and hit .378/.390/.730. Seven of his 14 hits went for extra bases (4 doubles, 3 homers). Abreu's homer was his 250th career home run. He's the 17th active player in MLB with 250 home runs. 

*Chas McCormick was 2x5 with a home run, double, and two crucial RBI. He had the game-winning hit for the second game in a row. The "who should be playing CF" debate is officially over. 

*Cristian Javier: 4.1IP, 9H/8ER, 4K:0BB. After his June 15 start against Washington, Javier was at a 2.90 ERA / 1.04 WHIP. In his last three starts: 10.2IP, 21H/18ER, 6K:6BB. His ERA has risen to 4.34 in the last three starts. Javier recorded 18 outs in nine of his first 14 starts of the season, and hasn't gotten out of the 5th in his last three. 

*NOW: the decision to leave Javier in to start the 5th Inning caused a meltdown on the burning hellscape of Twitter.com. But I get it. You gave Cristian Javier a 10-2 lead, which he allowed to get to 10-5 by the time the 5th Inning started. 

But the Astros have played 33 games in the last 36 days. Also, the starters haven't exactly shortened the game for the bullpen in the last few weeks. Yesterday's game followed Shawn Dubin's start in which the Astros were hoping he could give them three innings, and he ended up going four. Starter innings, 10-game road trip:

July 2 (Dubin): 4.0

July 1 (Brown): 4.0

June 30 (Blanco): 5.0

June 29 (France): 7.0

June 28 (Javier): 4.0

June 27 (Framber): 6.0

June 25 (Brown): 6.0

June 24 (Blanco): 6.0

June 23 (France): 6.0

From June 23-June 29 the starter went at least six innings in five of those six games. But in each of the four games of this crucial series against the Rangers, the bullpen had to cover at least four innings, and that was five innings in each of the last three. The bullpen is absolutely gassed, mainly because Javier has forgotten how to pitch, and Framber slipped down some stairs.

Bullpen Usage, last ten games:

Hector Neris: 6 games

Phil Maton: 6 games

Ryne Stanek: 5 games

Bryan Abreu: 5 games

Rafael Montero: 3 games

Seth Martinez: 3 games

Your high-leverage guys have thrown a lot. And you should be able to trust your #2 starter (Javier) with a 10-2 lead, or a 10-5 lead, to go an extra inning and give one of those guys a day off. Javier couldn't, because he has completely forgotten how to pitch. Pitching Coach Josh Miller:

He's not working deep into games. That's something he did last year, the back half of the year when he was a consistent starter for us. He was dominant. He was a force. We're working to get back to that version of him. He's working his tail off. We're going to go back to the drawing board and, hopefully, get him right.

It's worth revisiting this recent Eno Sarris article on the decline of Cristian Javier's fastball, or how his Invisiball is a little less Invisi.

So who should you be mad at? I'd go with Javier, or the injuries that led to the loss of Urquidy, McCullers, Garcia, and Framber, before Dusty. 

*Ramgers 6-9 in the lineup, last four games: 18x57, 10RBI.

*Matt Kawahara: Takeaways from a 6-4 road trip.

*This might be it for Michael Brantley. He will not take live BP against Jose Urquidy, having "plateaued" in his rehab, and the Astros are backing off of his recovery.

*Mike Trout left in the 8th Inning of last night's game after injuring his wrist on a swing.

*This guy was charged with attempted murder after beating the piss out of a another guy (who happened to be in bed with his wife at a Florida AirBnB). The most insane sentence you'll ever read:

He further said, that he had a bat that he kept in the closet for self-defense or hitting baseballs or soccer balls.

I have been a high school soccer coach for eight years. Never once has a baseball bat been involved.

*NY Times: Texas BBQ is the best it's ever been. Here's why.

*ESPN: The Champions League begins in Iceland, where teams dream (and spend) big.

*A Musical Selection: