Apr 25, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Astros pitcher David Carpenter (28) points to a foul ball pop up by Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
Over the last seven games the Astros pitching staff allowed 32 earned runs in 61 innings pitched for an overall ERA of 4.72. The staff's ERA on the season stands at 3.96, which means that the staff as a whole had their worst week of the early season. On the bright side 6 of the 7 games they played this week came against the Dodgers and Brewers who have the 3rd and 6th best all around offenses to start the season according to Fangraphs. Most of the damage was done against the starters who allowed 26 earned runs in 41.2 innings pitched for a 5.71 ERA. The bullpen actually performed pretty well overall and only allowed 6 earned runs in 19.1 innings for a 2.83 ERA.
As mentioned above starting pitching struggled this week with the Nationals (1 game), Dodgers, and Brewers. There were three quality starts thrown this week, one by J.A. Happ, one by Wandy Rodriguez, and one by Kyle Weiland, so it wasn't all bad. Wandy threw a gem, and only allowed 3 hits and no runs in his 7 innings of work. Weiland's start is also noteworthy as it was his best game to date with the Astros, and save one mistake pitch to the hottest hitter in baseball and his game was a gem as well. It's disappointing that he will skip his next start due to shoulder soreness as it would be nice to see if he could build on his solid outing against the Dodgers, but caution is the best approach to take with the rookie right hander. Happ's first outing of the week was a quality start only in terms of the final result as he labored threw his 6 innings. He gave 4 free passes and allowed 8 hits, so he is a little lucky that more damage wasn’t done.
Unfortunately that was the gist of the positive news, and now it's time to look at the areas where the rotation struggled.
• Failure to keep the ball in the park - Starter's allowed a total of 10 homeruns in their 41.2 innings pitched which equated to a homerun per nine inning rate of 2.18.
• Unable to pitch deep into the ballgame - Wandy and Weiland are excluded here. Besides the two everyone else racked up a high pitch count too early in the game to make it past 6 innings.
Bud Norris - 6 IP - 108 pitches; 2nd outing 5.2 IP - 102 pitches
J.A. Happ - 6 IP - 115 pitches; 2nd outing 5 IP - 103 pitches
Lucas Harrell - 5 IP - 86 pitches
• Allowed a few too many hits - 48 hits in 41.2 innings to be exact for a H/9 rate of 10.49. Add in the 17 walks and you have a WHIP of 1.58.
Unlike the rotation things were a little more pleasant in relief this week. The 2.83 ERA helped lower the groups overall ERA to 3.11. The performer of the week out of the pen had to be Wilton Lopez who pitched a total of 4.1 innings without allowing a run, a hit, or a walk, and also recorded 3 strikeouts. Rhiner Cruz and Brett Myers who were the last pitchers in the pen with an ERA of 0.00 allowed their first earned runs of the year. Control was Cruz's culprit as 2 walks and 1 hit were enough to push 2 runs across the plate in his first outing. Brett Myers was victim of the long ball in a non-save situation, which is an outcome that we Astros fans grew accustomed to with Myers on the mound last year. In his second outing of the week he picked up his 3rd save in 3 attempts to start the season.
Not a whole lot to report hear. David Carpenter and Fernando Rodriguez both had some good and bad outings. Rhiner Cruz was the only relief pitcher to allow more than one earned run in an outing, but was solid his next appearance. Wesley Wright made a total of 3 appearances and recorded 2 outs, as he was pulled in his second appearance of the week after walking the only batter he faced.
Overall it was a mediocre week of pitching against two pretty decent offenses. Taking a peak at some early overall totals, the Astros pitching staff ranks 12th out of the 16 teams in the National League in ERA. Starting pitching ranks 13th with a 4.37 ERA, and the bullpen ranks 5th with a 3.11 ERA. There are still several question marks about the Astros bullpen, but the good start to the season has been nice. They also have enough arms in Oklahoma City to tweak the rotation as the season progresses and hopefully improve it some along the way. As for the rotation, their performance so far falls in line with expectations. We've seen youngsters Weiland and Harrell take their lumps while also mixing in some good games, Happ has been Happ, and Wandy has been solid. Norris has struggled a little out of the gate, but he's also gotten off to a slow start the past two seasons and should be fine.