June 6, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno (63) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. The Cardinals won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
The timing of the draft couldn't have been any better as it provided a decent distraction from the Astros these last two weeks. The die hard fans usually submerge themselves in all things draft this time of year, and that has been nice for a club that has been scuffling lately. The Astros offense has been decent at times during that stretch, but the real culprit of the misfortune has been the pitching staff.
To say that Astros pitching has been bad is an understatement. Over the last seven days the staff as a whole has recorded a 6.62 ERA which is good for the worst in the majors. The starter's bare the brunt of that with a 7.71 ERA which is second to worst in the majors, and the bullpen has a 4.87 ERA over that time span which ranks them 26th out of the 30 teams. Over that time span the Astros bullpen has logged 20.1 innings, which is the seventh most in the majors. The good news is that I pulled the stats before last nights game so the Cardinals 14-run drubbing is not included here. However, the bad news is that I pulled the stats before last nights game so things were actually worst than they appear this week. With that, let's first take a look at our starting pitching and see what went right (if anything), and what went wrong.
What Went Right
After having a decent run in his first two outings of the year Jordan struggled in his next few while being shuttled back and forth between Houston and Oklahoma City. His last outing was an impressive one. He pitched a total of seven innings and only allowed five hits, two runs, two walks and three strikeouts.
His fastball velocity is still a little over one MPH better than last year averaging 91.2 MPH compared to 89.8 last year which is a plus. His walks are up at this point, but it's probably more of a sample size issue and not an increased velocity causing diminished control type thing. Another interesting thing with Lyles up to this point is that he is throwing his curveball more (19.2% vs. 12.6%) than he did last year, and his changeup less (5.6% vs. 11.9% last year.) The changeup usage is somewhat surprising as that pitch was regarding as one of if not his best offerings throughout his rise through the system, and it was also the pitch that he had the most success with last season. He spent a lot of time this spring and early in the season working on his curveball, and so far that has been his go to offspeed pitch.
This one really only applies to J.A. Happ and Bud Norris, but man have they been striking people out lately. Bud Norris now has his K/9 ratio up to 9.82, and Happ's is sitting at 9.22. Both of these rates are well over their career marks, especially Happ's, so it might not be something that they can sustain throughout the season, but it's been nice to see some swing-and-miss stuff from Astros starters.
What Went Wrong
Just About Everything Else
The group had a bad week as they gave up forty one hits and nine walks in just 32.2 innings of work (once again, were lucky Happ's outing wasn't included.) Homeruns were a problem as well as nine of those were given up. Jordan Lyles and J.A. Happ were the only two Astros pitchers to pitch seven innings. Bud Norris probably wishes it could always be May as he was only able to make it 7.2 innings in two starts.
As a whole the relief pitching didn't have all that great of a week either, but that's kind of to be expected when your throwing 20.1 innings in six games. Still there were some good outings mixed in with the bad this week.
Xavier Cedeno is our lucky winner as the only pitcher that did not allow an earned run this week in his 1.2 innings pitched. It's an extremely small sample size, but he could earn a longer stay if he can improve his control a little.
Fernando Rodriguez looks like he might be getting back on track as he was able to strikeout four and only allowed one earned run in his 3.1 innings pitched. He had an impressive year with the Astros this year and it would be nice if he could recapture some of last year's success.
Wilton Lopez and Brett Myers were also decent this week. Myers was able to pick up two more saves while working a total of 2.2 innings this week and allowing one earned run. Lopez pitched three innings allowing one earned run and striking out three.
David Carpenter and Brandon Lyon. Carpenter allowed four earned runs in 2.1 innings. He was able to strikeout three batters, but also gave up five hits which was the cause of the damage done against him. Brandon Lyon did not fare much better as he gave up three earned runs in three innings. He also struck out three batters, but unlike Carpenter's zero walks Lyon walked three batters, and gave up four hits, one of them being a homerun.
In all, if your a fan of pitching then this last week was a pretty rough one for Astros fans to follow. Maybe you missed most of it with all of the draft excitement happening throughout the week, but here's hoping that next week is easier on our hurlers.