HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 20: Jordan Lyles #41 of the Houston Astros throws against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park on June 20, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
It's Friday once again, and that means it's time to take a look back on the last 7 days of Astros pitching. The pitching staff was pretty schizophrenic during this time frame with some pitchers turning in good outings, some turning in bad outings, and some turning in both. The bright spots of the week included Dallas Keuchel who experienced a successful debut despite working with a small strikezone, and Jordan Lyles who turned in his best performance of the season. On the bullpen side of things lefties Fernando Abad and Wesley Wright were the only two pitchers that were able to keep their opponents off the scoreboard all week long.
Before we get into the weekly performances let's check in real quick on just how our staff ranks on the season. For the year the Astros pitching staff has worked a total of 610 innings, and have a 4.57 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 7.17 K/9 rate, 3.07 BB/9 rate, and a WAR of 2.0. The team WAR of 2.0 is good for 27th out of the 30 teams, the 4.39 FIP ranks them 26th out of 30, and the 4.57 ERA ranks them 27th out of 30. Astros starters carry a WAR of 2.4, and an FIP of 4.44, both good for 26th in the majors, while the bullpen's WAR of -0.4 ranks them 27th, and their FIP of 4.30 ranks them 28th in the majors. In short, the staff has really struggled lately, and now sits near the bottom in many categories. After the jump we will take a look at how the staff performed this past week.
Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles were really the only two starters to struggle this week. Harrell was just to hittable in his 5.1 innings of work, and gave up a total of seven hits and five earned runs in his outing. That outing caused his ERA to creep back up over 5.00 (5.07 to be exact) on the season. Harrell still recorded over 60% of his outs via the groundball, but also gave up a few too many line drives. As for Lyles, He cruised threw the first four innings of his first outing against the Rangers before hitting a wall in the fifth. Running into trouble in the fifth was starting to become a little bit of a pattern for the young righty. Luckily it was something that he was able to correct in his second outing of the week against the Royals, and he was able to escape the fifth inning without allowing the big inning. In his second outing of the week Lyles was experiencing quite a bit of success with his curveball, which is a good sign as his breaking stuff has been inconsistent since he's been in the majors. Hopefully this is a sign of more things to come with him.
The next person to highlight this week was Dallas Keuchel who made a very impressive debut, especially considering the fact that it came against the high octane offense of the Rangers. Keuchel battled a small strike zone, and the control specialist ended his outing with an uncharacteristic four walks in his five innings pitched. The encouraging sign in Keuchel's outing was that his fastball velocity sat at about 88 and touched 90, and that his curveball and changeup were better than expected. He also showed solid mound presence, and pounded away at the outside part of the strikezone.
Wandy Rodriguez had two outings this past week, and was solid but unspectacular in both. Other than a few tough outings Wandy has been pretty consistent this year, and while the strikeout numbers are down for him from last season, he is still experiencing a good amount of success on the mound. He has definitely been one of the more dependable starters on the staff. J.A. Happ also had a good outing this week and picked up the win against the Royals with his six innings of work and two earned runs allowed. The key to Happ's success so far this season has been his ability to cut down on the free passes. So far his walk rate on the season is down to 3.55 which is a big improvement on his 2011 season.
Rhiner Cruz and David Carpenter's struggles continued this week as Cruz went 2.2 innings and allowed two earned runs, and Carpenter went 1.2 innings and allowed two earned runs. Cruz's ERA on the season is now sitting at 7.33 in 23.1 innings pitched, and Carpenter's is at 5.06 in 26.2 innings pitched. Fernando Rodriguez and Brett Myers also had a rough week. In the absence of Wilton Lopez Fernando Rodriguez saw his usage increase and was the most used reliever this week going 4.1 innings and allowing six earned runs. Brett Myers on the other hand was not used that often, but had his first real meltdown this week. He ended up pitching 0.2 innings and allowing five earned runs before exiting what started as a 9-2 game against the Royals.
As mentioned at the top Wesley Wright and Fernando Abad combined for a total of 4.2 scoreless innings. Brandon Lyon was also decent this week and only allowed one earned run in his 3 innings of work though he did give up five hits. What's interesting with Brandon Lyon is that in terms of WAR, he has been more valuable to the Astros that closer Brett Myers this season providing a WAR of 0.4 compared to Myers 0.1. Lyon's 0.4 WAR is tied for the tops among Astros relievers with Wilton Lopez.
Hopefully Astros pitching is getting close to getting back on track. The starter's have strung together four solid outings in a row now, and hopefully Lucas Harrell can pick up where Lyles left off tonight against the Indians. The Regulators also did a good job of keeping the Royals off the board in the final two games of that series, and hopefully they can carry that momentum into this series against Cleveland as well.