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TCB Players of the Week and Astros Stock Watch

Our second regular season edition of the (soon to be sponsored) TCB Players of the Week.

Hitter of the Week: J.R. Towles - I know, I know, he's only played in three of the six possible games for this week. I have to give credit where credit's due, though. No player has been scuffling as much as Towles lately. In the last three games, Towles has gone 5 for 9 with a home run, two runs scored, four RBIs and two strikeouts. While Lance Berkman's return seemed to rejuvenate the Astros offense, it's guys like Towles and Hunter Pence finally hitting their stride that has made the biggest difference.

Pitcher of the Week: Brett Myers - I though about plugging Roy Oswalt in here again, but Myers made good with another excellent start on Tuesday. He did give up some early runs, and as Astros County pointed out on Twitter this morning, Myers has given up a .500 batting average on his first trip through the batting order and less than .100 average after that. In 14 innings over two starts, Myers struck out nine and walked two while giving up 12 hits and five earned runs. I'll take that from a third starter. Yes, I will.

Defender of the Week: Michael Bourn - This is based purely on his great play in the St. Louis series, but Bourn has been good enough all year to justify this. I can tell you that the crowd at Busch Stadium was a whole lot more excited than they should have been on a couple of those deep drives to center that Bourn tracked down. He definitely took the air out of them with those catches.

Astros Stock Watch (who's up, who's down, who's surprising)

Lance Berkman, surprising returns - What can you say when the team's best hitter returns to pick up an RBI in his first at-bat and an extra-base hit in his second? Berkman did everything he was supposed to do and the Astros scored a season-high seven runs.

Hunter Pence, slow growth - It's been a tough start to the season for Pence, but he has now had two straight two-hit games and is now 5 for his last 11 with two runs scored, a double, a walk and a stolen base in that same time span. While Pence hasn't hit for the power he showed in previous seasons, he is making better contact with the ball and is showing signs of recovering from his early-season funk.

Carlos Lee, stop order continued - What to say about Carlos? After going hitless in four straight games, Lee has gotten a hit in three of the last four. However, he's still just 3 for 17 in the last four games. He did hit a double in Tuesday's game, but is not showing any signs of becoming the consistent hitter he's been in the past. On the plus side? He's only struck out twice in his last 25 plate appearances.

Chris Sampson, quick rise - The secret to Sampson's success? His ground ball rate is back to his 2008 level. While his game leverage index is lower than the past two seasons, it's still the second highest on t he team after Matt Lindstrom. His Win Probability Added per Leverage Index is also the second highest on the team at .17, coming in just behind Roy Oswalt at .40.

Kazuo Matsui, bottomed out - Do you know the answer to the question, "Who has the lowest wOBA on the Astros this season?" Since I'm asking this in Matsui's writeup, the answer is probably pretty obvious. His actual wOBA number? .084. To say that is horrendous is an insult to the word. Matsui has been so bad that Jeff Keppinger has basically replaced him in the lineup despite Kepp's bad defense at second. At least Mills got a clutch RBI out of Matsui in Tuesday's game, but those hits have been few and far between.

Chris Johnson, unexpected drop - Who knew? Johnson has been apparently suffering from sore ribs, otherwise known as a strained intercostal muscle. Sounds like he's okay to do most of the baseball activities, but swinging the bat hurts him. He'll take a nice break for the next two weeks before the Astros have to make a decision on who to cut from the roster. The way this went down, though? I doubt it's Johnson who's send to Round Rock in 15 days.

Matt Lindstrom, blue-chip territory - GM Ed Wade has to be pleased with the progress Lindstrom has made. After struggling through the 2009 campaign with the Marlins, Lindstrom has been solid with his new team. Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg tweaked his grip on the slider and it's given Lindstrom three legitimate pitches. After Sunday's victory over the Cubs, Lindstrom mentioned he has a two-seam fastball that he works in occasionally, but doesn't like using it because it knocks off some velocity.

Brandon Lyon, volatile - As Evan so aptly put it in Tuesday's game recap, Lyon is having a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde season. One of the problems seems to be his cut fastball, which either hasn't been moving like it did last season or Lyon hasn't thrown as much. At any rate, Mills is still using Lyon as his primary setup guy, but if he gets shelled a few more times, we may see Chris Sampson in that role.

Alberto Arias, not promising - Arias is still experiencing soreness in his shoulder, according to Zachary Levine. His recovery is not progressing as Houston thought, so there is no timetable for a return. Certainly, guys like Chris Sampson have made it more difficult for Arias to find a spot on the big league roster. If only the Astros hadn't spent 15 million on a reliever last winter...

Yorman Bazardo, slowly returning - Bazardo is gearing up to return from the DL with Round Rock soon after recovering from the strained shoulder he suffered this spring. Bazardo will give the Express another solid starter to help a position that has been a little shaky in the early going.

Jason Castro, leveling off - After a hot spring put him in a close competition for catcher, Castro has started out slowly for the Express. The 22-year old hasn't gotten an extra base hit and is 8 for 35 through nine games. On the plus side, Castro has walked seven times and struck out five times. Considering the Astros lack of patience at the plate this season, it's nice to see Castro getting on base at a good clip even when he's not hitting the ball well.

Jason Bourgeois, falling slightly - Bourgeois left Saturday's game with an apparent injury and hasn't played since. It's a shame too, because Bourgeois was off to a blistering start. He's got a .359/.385/.432 slash line with 10 stolen bases in 10 attempts, including four in one game. He's created 9.284 runs but has a wOBA of only .294. That's probably because Bourgeois only has oen extra base hit, a double.

Tanner Bushue, rising - Three starts in and Bushue has 16 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. He's also walked eight batters and given up a ton of fly balls. However, he hasn't shown any signs of the back injury that hampered him last season. If he keeps this up, he'll give the Astros another solid find early in the draft and yet another starting pitching prospect.

Jordan Lyles, strong dividends - Lyles picked up his first Texas League victory on Saturday, throwing six shutout innings while striking out five and walking none. He's also been mentioned as a late season callup possibility now. Oh, what a difference one start makes.

Jonathan Meyer, impressive early growth - Meyer didn't show much last season besides a proclivity for drawing walks. This season? He's only hitting .404/.436/.500 with five doubles. Of course, he's only walked twice and struck out 11 times, so his start hasn't been ideal, but he's definitely showing signs of being the best third base prospect in the system (not already in the majors).

Comment of the Day and Leaderboard: From Clack, about a 12 foot hit by Hunter Pence:

that’s a power stroke so far for him this year.

by clack on Apr 20, 2010 7:46 PM CDT up reply actions 1 recs

And the leaderboard.

Name # of Posts
Joe in Birmingham 48
OremLK 40
timmy_ 35
entropic soul 32
clack 31