Thursday's Three Astros Things

Talking about Jordan Lyles, Houston making progress on the field and history's biggest upsets...

Some things to talk about while MLB's YouTube page finally gets going...

1) Jordan Lyles is back

Welcome back, Jordan Lyles. After starting the season in Oklahoma City, the young right-hander is headed back to Houston and will start against the Tigers on Thursday.

Not the nicest way Houston could've welcomed him back, huh?

After Brad Peacock's demotion earlier this week, Lyles enters the rotation with an eye towards staying for a while:

The Astros are bringing up Lyles with the hope he’ll remain in the rotation for the remainder of this season.

"This is a guy that obviously we expected to be a part of the rotation. It didn’t fare too well this spring," Porter said. "Sometimes guys taking a step back actually allows them to take three steps forward, and we’re hoping that is the case with Jordan."

Even with Lyles' unimpressive numbers in OKC, he's still a better bet to start than any of the three guys in the back of Houston's rotation right now. If Lyles really did make progress on his pitching strategy in his last two starts, maybe we'll see some of that tonight.

The question now is who will be sent down for Lyles and Dallas Keuchel? My money is on Jose Cisnero and Rhiner Cruz. Even though Cisnero's been okay pitching in relief, his peripherals haven't been strong and he might benefit from some more time at Triple-A.

2) Astros making progress

Things haven't been pretty for Houston so far. They've got one of the two worst records in the majors and have dropped six of their last seven games. At the same time, manager Bo Porter sees progress.

"Defensively, we’ve played extremely well. Offensively, we’ve played well in spurts," Porter said. "Beginning of the year, we pitched extremely well. We ran into a bump in the road. I feel like we’re actually getting back on track pitching-wise. I love the way our bullpen is coming together.

"As time goes on, we’re going to hit our groove, we’re going to hit our mark, and we’re going to start to put complete games together, and that there is what I’m looking forward to."

The early season numbers bear that progress out. Only two Astros have negative Defensive Runs Saved so far and they are Fernando Martinez and the demoted Brett Wallace. Both Matt Dominguez and Jose Altuve have both been quite a bit above average defensively (so far).

What's more, some of Houston's hitters have seen improvement in the past two weeks. Jason Castro is hitting .382/.447/.559 in the past two weeks while Brandon Barnes is hitting .423/.483/.615 over that same time frame. Carlos Pena is only hitting .214 in those two weeks, but he's also has an on-base percentage of .365.

The whole roster still isn't working in sync, but at least it's not a total loss.

3) Upset special

I missed posting this earlier in the week, but Mike Bates wrote about Houston's 9-1 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday. His point is that it was slightly unexpected, as the Yankees are a likely playoff team and the Astros are the Lastros.

But for one brief, shining moment last night, we got to enjoy watching them absolutely plant the Yankees into the ground with a 9-1 win that somehow seemed even more lopsided than it was. Lucas Harrell continued to pitch like an actual major-league pitcher, something he's done essentially since the moment the Astros claimed him off waivers from the White Sox. Plus, 29- year-old backup catcher Carlos Corporan had what is likely to be the game of his life, collecting four hits -- including a homer and a double -- and four RBI.

Bates then goes on to list a ton of other games that fit this upset profile. What's surprising is that baseball doesn't work like other sports where upsets happen. The famous line in football is that on any given Sunday, one team can beat another.

Baseball doesn't work like that. Sure, every now and then a pitcher can step up and give a performance for the ages. But, that's less common for truly bad teams.

What do you think? How surprising was Houston's beatdown of New York? Did you remember any of the other games on the list?

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