I know, it's shocking, but we're still without a sponsor for this feature. Do people realize this team just moved up five spots in the power rankings? Shouldn't that get the attention of Dunkin' Donuts? Or Pluckers? Alas, let's just move on with another edition of The Crawfish Boxes' Players of the Week.
Hitter of the Week: MIchael Bourn - Give Bourn credit. Three weeks into the season and he's still the Astros best offensive weapon. How many times has he started an inning with a walk or a single, stolen second and third and then scored on some out? Can't we look that up? He's riding a six-game hitting streak that's seen him go 8 for 19 with a double, six walks, seven runs scored, five strikeouts and six stolen bases in seven attempts. I will take that every day of the week out of a leadoff hitter.
Pitcher of the Week: Wandy Rodriguez - I'll give credit where's it's due. Wandy's start against Pittsburgh was the best of his young season. Seven and a third innings, seven strikeouts, one earned run and five hits allowed. with just one walk. His game score of 68 is just behind Roy Oswalt for the top score this season. He threw 66 of his 96 pitches for strikes, including 11 swinging strikes and 22 called strikes. His WPA of .190 was just behind Hunter Pence (.203) for tops in that game.
Defender of the Week: Michael Bourn - According to FanGraphs, Bourn has saved six defensive runs already this season. His total last year was 12 DRS. That particular stat is more of a rate than a counting stat, but this shows that Bourn has been very good thus far. Another way to look at it is that Bourn has made 14 Out Of Zone plays this season out of 35 total plays. That means 40 percent of his plays have come outside of his 'zone.' What's more, Bourn has made highlight catch after highlight catch, even making one look routine as he backpedaled up Tal's Hill. That's what I want out of my Defender of the Week.
Astros Stock Watch (who's up, who's down, who's all around)
Roy Oswalt, personal shares skyrocketing - If there is such a thing as karma, Roy should be sitting pretty right now. After a devastating string of tornados hit Mississippi in general and his hometown of Weir in particular, Roy flew home to help his family recover. You see, his mother had been alone in his childhood home when a tornado ripped the house to shreds. Roy's mom survived by hiding in a closet wtih her dog. After the storm had passed, she found a Bible at her feet. No joke. Roy immediately flew down there, fired up his bulldozer and worked to get his old home taken care of. He's back with the Astros and scheduled to pitch tonight. Hats off to him for being such a good son.
Sammy Gervacio, developing volatility - After finally coming off the disabled list Tuesday, Gervacio was back with his usual antics on the mound. However, an inability to hold the runner on second led to a steal. After the runner was on third, Gervacio picked up a balk, scoring Cincinnati's sixth run of the evening. It's good to have him back, but Gervacio definitely lost his cool in that inning. If he's going to be a late-inning guy for the Astros, he needs to control his emotions better than that.
Wilton Lopez, tough slide but positive outlook - The guy did everything right. His ERA was inflated by one bad outing in his first appearance since being called up. His xFIP was much, much lower at 3.73. I'm not sure Lopez has the K rate to sustain that kind of success, but he definitely showed something in this brief audition. The next time an Astros pitcher goes down with an injury, it might not be so easy to send Lopez back down.
Bud Norris, no third-quarter growth - And by third-quarter, I mean late in the game. Norris has struggled to get through the early innings, leading to higher pitch counts and an inability to stay in the game into the sixth inning. I realize the General left him in too long against Cincy, but Norris needs to get stretched out a little if he's going to avoid being another Octavio Dotel. More on Budly later today.
Jeff Keppinger, dropping quickly - After a hot start to the season, Kepp is 3 for his last 18 with three walks, two doubles and a strikeout. His slash line dropped to .286/.375/.387 and his wOBA dropped to .365. That's still pretty good, but Kepp is definitely scuffling right now. It'll be interesting to see if Matsui get's unburied now.
J.R. Towles, nudging upwards - A typical Towles line from Tuesday's game: 1 for 2 with a double, a walk, a sac fly and an RBI. The big redhead has raised his wOBA to .285 by going 2 for 7 with two doubles, two walks and two strikeouts in three games this past week. Now that Towles is starting to do things right at the plate, we'll have to see if Mills decides to continue this two-headed monster as the starting catcher.
Rick Hague, stabilizing - The junior from Rice University didn't take his demotion from shortstop to heart. Instead, Hague went out and went 4 for 6 with a home run, three runs scored, three RBIs and a strikeout. Hague started at DH last Friday but moved over to third base as the game went along. He ended the weekend by going 5 for 12 with five runs scored, two walks and four strikeouts. Hague also hit primarily in the two-hole, starting at DH on Saturday but moving back to short on Sunday.
Matt Lindstrom, blue-chip level - The flashy closer only recorded three saves in the past week, but he also struck out two in three innings and added at least 15 percent to the win probability twice. Lindstrom is a very hard thrower and is giving up his lowest line drive rate of his career at 18.5 percent. That's not great, but his slider has been quite effective. In fact, FanGraphs has it worth 1.2 wins right now, which puts him in the Top 30 in the major leagues with his slider. For a guy who didn't have a reliable secondary pitch when he was traded to be flirting with the Top 30 in the league speaks highly of one Brad Arnsberg, don't you think? I finally feel solid about the closer situation, which is one less thing to worry about.
Texas A&M baseball, falling - Prairie View A&M scored five runs in the top of the ninth to almost beat A&M Tuesday ight. A&M got a strong start from Michael Wacha (4-2) but a string of relievers couldn't finish out the game, leaving head coach Rob Childress to bring in injured closer Josh Stilson to end the threat. Stilson has been having elbow issues but started the game at third base. Let's just say A&M was playing down to it's opponents, who have only won 11 games all season. Otherwise, the implications are pretty bleak.