Cosart the Ugly Duckling
Jared Cosart's pitching has become extremely difficult to classify. If I tell you that a pitcher has an average fastball velocity of 94 mph and regularly reached 97, what would you expect his profile to be? Most baseball fans would say that the pitcher would be a strikeout artist. Cosart has those velocities, but strikes out less than 7 batters per 9 innings, almost a whole strikeout less than league average. Cosart currently sits 5th in Ground Ball percentage in the majors, and he's still walking batters, though not as alarmingly as in the past.
Only three other pitchers since 2006 have had seasons like Cosart's so far: sub-7 K/9, elite velocity, groundball rate over 50%, and BB/9 over 3: Edwin Jackson and Wily Peralta in 2013, and Clay Buchholz in 2010. Unsurprisingly, they all have similar FIPs and xFIPs for those seasons, though their ERA differs a lot.
After pitching seven innings of 1-run ball (2K's, 2BB's), Cosart's ERA now sits at a pretty 3.60, and his WAR total, in just 15 starts, has surpassed Peralta's from 2013 already in 100 fewer inning pitched. In short, he's been very good this season. He has now earned four wins in a row, and is currently amidst 15 innings pitched in which he's allowed only one run, while striking out only 4 batters. It defies explanation, particularly in light of his perfectly-normal .281 BABIP. It's almost as if one needs to accept the fact that Cosart is going to succeed, but he's going to do it his way.
Bippity Boppity Boom
Braves starter Mike Minor had no answer for Cosart's workmanlike dominance, and the Astros chased him after six innings and five runs earned. The Astros' first run came on a long double by Jon Singleton that scored Jose Altuve, who, incidentally, raised his average to .334 with two more hits and grabbed his American-League-leading 29th and 30th stolen bases today. Then, in the fourth inning, Jesus Guzman (playing Left Field today) knocked Matt Dominguez home on a ground out.
When Dominguez next stepped to the plate in the fifth inning, he crippled the Braves' winning hopes by belting a two-out three-run home run to left. Not wanting to be outshone, George Springer hit his fifteenth bomb off Juan Jaime in the seventh, on the same trajectory as Dominguez', only about 20 feet farther. Show-off.
Once Cosart exited the game in a chariot of fire, the Astros pen took over. In a game in which Cosart dominated an opponent and Singleton nabbed two hits and an RBI, Bo Porter took Phillies fans and rubbed their collective nose in "it" by bringing in Josh Zeid, who pitched a perfect 2/3 of an inning before yielding to Tony Sipp. Finally, an old friend, Jose Veras, celebrated his return to Houston by striking out the only batter he faced to end the game.