Blame the Kyle Farnsworth bomb dropping Thursday morning for scuttling plans on this piece. As it is, you get inconsequential awards a day late (and a dollar short).
Houston's pitching staff hasn't been bad recently. They haven't been as lock-down as they were earlier in the season, but they also haven't been terrible. In the past two weeks, Houston's pitching has been in the bottom third of the league in WAR. They have the seventh-best ERA (4.11) as a team in the American League, but the second-worst strikeout rate. They've also got the second-highest walk rate in the league over that stretch, which explains the bad WAR numbers even when the run prevention has been okay.
The brunt of that has been taken by the bullpen, which has an ERA of 4.99 in the last two weeks. That might explain why Houston felt the need to shuffle some middle relief guys around, bringing up Jose Veras and saying sayonara to Kyle Farnsworth. There has also been no middle ground with relievers. Four have been perfect in the last two weeks. Four have had ERAs of 6.00 or higher. Only one guy (Josh Zeid) has an ERA in the four's over that stretch.
With Anthony Bass getting healthy and possibly Matt Albers and Jesse Crain coming back too, the fixes are on the horizon. But, for now, Houston's strength has turned into a mild weakness. But, let's give out awards to the best of those guys.
I'll have a soft spot for the Doctor pretty much all season. But, unlike doppleganger Lucas Harrell (whom we'll henceforth refer to either as "Dalek" or "The Master"), McHugh's periperhals continue to support his success. In 13 innings over this extended week, McHugh struck out 15 and allowed seven hits and five walks. Somehow, he also managed to give up five hits, including that heartbreaker of a game on Wednesday, when he gave up three runs on three hits.
McHugh is not a sub-3.00 ERA guy. But, he looks like he could absolutey be a 3.20-3.50 ERA pitcher moving forward. The last pitcher with a sub 3.50 ERA in at least 120 innings for Houston was Wandy Rodriguez (and Brett Myers) in 2011. It only happened 16 times since 2000 (Oswalt did it eight of those times).
Can McHugh have the career Wade Miller was supposed to have? Please?
This one's sort of a cheat. He only wins because he pitched Thursday, but since it was the afternoon, it might count either way.
Cosart has been very, very good for the past four starts. Evan Drellich had a very good article on how his curveball (and Brent Strom) has helped him this season. The results are very encouraging.
In two starts over the past week, Cosart threw 15 innings with a 0.60 ERA and four strikeouts. He also only had three walks and 12 hits, giving up just over one base runner an inning. In his professional career, Cosart has only equaled his walk rate of 9.3 percent once in as many innings has he's thrown this year.
That came in 2011, when he was in High-A ball with the Phillies and had a 9.3 percent walk rate in 103 innings, before getting traded to the Astros. Even though his strikeout rate still stinks, he's turning into a first-class ground ball artist. He's not on the level of Derek Lowe yet (Lowe's career GB rate was 62 percent), but he's maybe morphing into a Tim Hudson/Scott Erikson. At the least, he's becoming a rich man's Aaron Cook.