Some quick hitters today on last night's game.
Felipe Paulino - The Bearded One may have thrown a ton of pitches, but he mainly worked off his four-seamer and his slider. Both pitches got swing-throughs, but his slider was by far his most effective pitch. He was able to throw it for a strike 73 percent of the time, compared to a 53.7 percent strike rate for his fastball. Paulino also effectively used his curve, both throwing it for a high number of strikes and by getting a 20 percent whiff rate.
|Strikes / %
|Swinging Strikes / %
|Time to Plate
|FF (FourSeam Fastball)
|29 / 53.70%
|1 / 1.85%
|1 / 50.00%
|0 / 0.00%
|28 / 73.68%
|4 / 10.53%
|9 / 90.00%
|2 / 20.00%
|FT (TwoSeam Fastball)
|1 / 100.00%
|0 / 0.00%
His fastball velocity was really up there this game. His average speed on the four-seamer was right at 96 MPH while it topped out at just under 98 MPH. The fastball had some more sink on it than we've seen from Paulino before and ran in on the hands of right-handers at about the same rate as usual. Again, the main difference between his slider and his curve is the horizontal movement, as the two pitches have almost identical horizontal break. The curve also clocked in about eight MPH slower than the slider, which could explain why hitters were so offbalance with both pitches.
Looking at his speed chart, you can see he clearly tired late in the start, with most of his pitches after No. 90 slower than 95 MPH. Of course, he still keyed up in the final frame to hit 96 a couple times. I'm sure this is all part of the process to stretch pitchers out more, but Paulino certainly seems to be tiring around the 100 pitch mark. Wonder if this will play into Mills' decision making down the line.
About the Defense: Can Carlos Lee catch more flack for his defense than he did last night? Alyson Footer made a Keystone Kops reference and said the defense made Paulino throw about 40 more pitches than he needed to. Both Brian McTaggart and Zach Levine were on Lee's case, with each posting blog excerpts after the game addressing the issue. It's pretty common for a player to sometimes let an ongoing slump at the plate affect his fielding, but Lee is now costing the Astros pretty dearly. The first batch of 2010 UZR data was released by FanGraphs recently and Lee does not look good.
As of right now, Lee's UZR/150 is at -34.5. That's not going sustain itself long-term, as his UZR figure will probably normalize back around -10, but it is disappointing. Adding in his defense, Lee has cost the Astros -1.1 wins above a replacement player to this point in the season. When you can be replaced by Cory Sullivan and the team improves, you're having a bad start to the season.
What's more troubling is that most of the Astros defensive numbers are bad. Tommy Manzella is at -19 UZR/150, Hunter Pence is at -11.8, Pedro Feliz is at -28.9 at third base and -16.6 at first, Kaz Matsui is at -11 at second and Jeff Keppinger is a horrendous -79.8 at shortstop and -10.1 at second. Only Chris Johnson, Jason Michaels and Geoff Blum have positive UZR ratings. Of course, I'm a little dubious of these early returns, since that also lists Michael Bourn as having a -0.7 UZR. Still, it's not a good thing for a team who's philosophy in the offseason was to improve the defense.
General's Watch: This isn't so much a question of what Mills did as what he WILL do. How Mills deals with this Carlos Lee situation will be his first big play as a manager. Handle this wrong and it'll be more difficult to be the 'rah-rah' guy he tried to portray in spring training. At the same time, Lee needs something to break him out of this slump. If that means a weekend off, so be it. Play Michaels and Sullivan out in left. Couch it as getting his bench guys some starts. Mills was able to do this with Matsui, but Lee makes a heck of a lot more money and is seems to be a likeable guy. It might be harder to disciplie that kind of player.
Comment of the Day and Leaderboard: The question we all want to know the answer to:
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|Joe in Birmingham
This Day In Astros History: In 1980, Houston lost 3-2 to Cincinnati in a 12-inning game. Ken Forsch was the Astros starter that day and went seven innings but picked up a no-decision. Forsch struck out four while walking one, giving up eight hits and two earned runs. The Astros bullpen locked down the Reds for another four innings before Joaquin Andujar gave up a single to Dave Concepcion to drive in pinch-hitter Harry Spilman. The Astros offense was paced by an aging Joe Morgan going 2 for 6 with two doubles and an RBI.
In 1986, the Astros beat Atlanta 3-2 at Fulton County Stadium. Craig Reynolds won the game by hitting a two-run single off Bruce Sutter in the top of the ninth. Sutter had relieved Zane Smith, who held the Astros scoreless for the first eight innings before giving up an RBI-single to Jose Cruz. Reynold's play swung the WPA by 61 percent and backed up a solid pitching performance by Bob Knepper. Julio Solano earned his first victory of the season and Dave Smith got his sixth save.
In 1994, Houston beat the tar out of the Cardinals 15-5 behind an effectively wild start by Darryl Kile. Kile won his second game of the season by throwing six innings and giving up three hits and three earned runs while walking five and striking out three. Kevin Bass, Steve Finley, Chris Donnels and James Mouton all hit home runs for the Astros. Bass led the Astros in WPA at .195 after going 5 for 6 with three RBIs, four runs scored, a double and raising his batting average to .444 on the season.
In 2005, the Astros lost 1-0 to the Cardinals in ten innings. St. Louis ace Mark Mulder threw a ten-inning shutout, allowing five hits and striking out five. That effort wasted seven shutout innings from Roger Clemens, as the Rocket allowed four hits while striking out six and walking four to drop his ERA to 0.32 on the season. Surprisingly, Adam Everett was the leading hitter in the game. Everett batted leadoff in the game. In his career, the shortstop has only been a leadoff hitter 25 times, but against Mulder, Everett was 2 for 4.