HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 06: Lucas Harrell #64 of the Houston Astros scores on a double by Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on August 6, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Another week is in the books, and it's that time of the week again to review this past week's pitching performances. All stats listed below are through Wednesday nights games, and do not include last night's loss to the Nationals. The staff itself looks pretty different since the last time we took a look at it as their are several new faces that have been called up. The Astros replaced Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ's rotation spots with Dallas Keuchel and Armando Galarraga. The bullpen lost closer Brett Myers and (setup man?) Brandon Lyon and replaced them with Mickey Storey and Chuckie Fick. As you can see there was a little shake up to the staff, and so far the results have varied.
The Astros had several decent performances this week, but none were better than the young right hander's outing. Lyles went seven innings and only allowed two earned runs while striking out six and walking three. We've been waiting for Lyles to put up a decent start and have something that he can hopefully build off of for a while now, and hopefully this week's performance was that start. One thing of note with Lyles is that in Clark Goble's recap of that game is that Lyles is continuing to ork on things and this time he is tinkering with his delivery out of the stretch.
He said he felt good on the mound but also suggested he might need to continue working on his new delivery out of the stretch. After Lyles issued a two-out walk, Espinosa hit the first pitch he saw from Lyles out of the stretch 408 feet to the upper deck in right field.
"We've got to work on it, get better from it," said Lyles, 21. "But tonight, luckily I didn't have too many guys on base."
Things like this and like him tinkering with his curveball grip earlier this season are good to hear about such a young pitcher. It gives a little sense of hope that he will keep working hard at his craft and can improve from the statistical mess of a season he is having so far.
With the departure of Wandy Harrell is now the most successful pitcher on the Astros this year. His strikeouts continue to be up, and he managed five this week in his six innings pitched. On the flipside he also allowed five walks which did not allow him to pitch very deep into the game. He lasted six innings, and turned in a quality start while only allowing two earned runs on four hits and five walks. The continued presence of the strikeouts is a good thing to see here, but the walks could be a tad concerning. Throughout his career Harrell has never really had great control, so it could be a sign that he was just on a great run, and we could be seeing more of them to come, or it could be nothing more than just shaky control during one outing.
One other thing to note with Harrell is that he has already pitched a total of 133 1/3 innings this year, and there is already some buzz being generated from Mills that the Astros wil have to keep an eye on that and possibly limit his innings towards the end of the season.
The Astros desperately need Norris to return to last year's form and help anchor a very inexperienced rotation. After all the injury setbacks and possible ineffectiveness due to those setbacks it looks like Norris may be getting back on track. He wasn't particularly sharp in this outing as he did allow four earned runs in his seven innings, but he also struck out seven while walking three. The overall slash line on Norris' last two starts might not paint the prettiest picture, but he has been pretty olid minus a few bad innings.
Keuchel is performance so far is about what is to be expected from him. This week he went six innings while allowing three earned runs on one walk, and two strikeouts. The positive here is that he cut down on the walks this time out which were starting to get out of hand. The downside is that he gave up twice as many hits as innings pitched, and he will have a hard time being successful if that pattern continues.
Ah, I saved the best for last. Galarraga was the only pitcher to have two starts over this past week, and both were pretty much what is to be expected from him as well. If the Astros can get five innings or so out of him and still be in the ballgame then he did his job. Overall he threw 10.1 innings this week and allowed seven earned runs on eleven hits while also recording nine strikeouts. The kicker here is that he also walked thirteen batters in his ten innings pitched. The Astros don't have a lot of rotation options right now, and Armando will probably keep getting some chances. Hopefully he will be able to cut down on the free passes in them.
Surprisingly enough the Astros bullpen had a pretty decent week even though they blew a few save opportunities this week. As a whole the bullpen combined for a total of 21.2 innings and posted an ERA of 1.25.
Wilton Lopez continues to be solid for the good guys and did not allow an earned run in his 3.2 innings pitched this week. Unsurprisingly he did not allow any walks, and also recorded four strikeouts. He and his health are probably the most important pieces to this Astros bullpen for the rest of the way. Chuckie Fick, Wesley Wright, and yes Fernando Rodriguez were the other Astros relievers to not allow an earned run this week. Rodriguez went a total of 3.1 innings and did not allow a hit or a walk while also striking out three. Mickey Storey (3 IP), Xavier Cedeno (2.2), and Rhiner Cruz (2.2) each allowed one earned run apiece this week. All said it was a pretty good week out of the pen as no one allowed more than one earned run at a time.
All in all it was an okay week for Astros pitchers. They've definitely had better, but they've also definitely had worse. Given the youth and relative inexperience of much of the staff I would take a week like this week's production. Would you?