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Daily Astros News and Notes

It seems like forever since we did one of these posts, looking at Pitch F/X data and other Astros tidbit from around the web. Don't worry about the comment leaderboards. I'm planning a big post running down all the days we've missed for tomorrow. Until then...

Brian Moehler

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 85.65 86.8 -2.97 9.87 35 21 / 60.00% 2 / 5.71% -1.1607 0.439
CH (Changeup) 79.75 83 -9.44 6.18 23 12 / 52.17% 3 / 13.04% -0.0518 0.470
SL (Slider) 82.60 82.6 1.94 3.05 1 1 / 100.00% 0 / 0.00% -0.0624 0.463
CU (Curveball) 76.68 81.1 0.92 -2.73 5 4 / 80.00% 0 / 0.00% 1.2552 0.486
FC (Cutter) 83.06 84.9 0.74 5.36 13 7 / 53.85% 0 / 0.00% 1.0117 0.452
FT (TwoSeam Fastball) 85.37 87.7 -8.19 7.78 22 9 / 40.91% 0 / 0.00% 0.1340 0.438


Moehler hasn't been as terrible as we anticipated filling in for Norris. The biggest problem for Moehler was his inability to throw strikes with his two-seam fastball. He got good swing-throughs with his change and even had a pretty good differential between it and his two fastballs. We've talked before about how pitchers who throw fastballs under 90 MPH find it hard to maintain success.

The biggest reason for that success is some heavy sink on his fastballs. Also, his change profiles very similarly to his two-seamer, but that isn't the biggest reason he gets whiffs with the change. After all, he actually threw the change more than his two-seamer.

There's a term that seems to have fallen out of baseball parlance lately. Brian Moehler can be called a "junkballer." He doesn't have any great pitches, but threw three different types of fastballs, two breaking pitches and another offspeed pitch. That's six different pitches in the Yankees game alone. Put a little vaseline on his hip and he's Eddie Harris from Major League. I just hope the league doesn't figure out how to hit him before Norris is healthy.

Wandy Rodriguez

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 87.88 89.7 1.36 11.23 33 13 / 39.39% 1 / 3.03% 0.3371 0.427
CH (Changeup) 84.13 87 6.48 7.28 22 12 / 54.55% 0 / 0.00% -0.0055 0.443
CU (Curveball) 73.69 76.5 -5.97 -8.98 30 19 / 63.33% 1 / 3.33% 1.1126 0.514
FT (TwoSeam Fastball) 87.78 88.8 8.37 7.13 13 8 / 61.54% 0 / 0.00% 1.0640 0.424


The curveball has been Wandy's worst enemy this season. The weird thing is, there aren't many reasons why, at least from a Pitch F/X perspective. He's throwing it for a strike consistently, his movement profiles the same as the rest of the season but hitters aren't biting on it.

The biggest problem in this last start is that he couldn't throw his four-seamer for a strike. The ball also stayed up quite a bit on the pitch, which can lead to problems for a guy throwing 87. Either Wandy needs more rise on the pitch or more sink, but he's in a very dangerous zone until something changes.

Brett Myers

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 88.51 90.4 -3.12 8.77 16 6 / 37.50% 0 / 0.00% 0.8293 0.425
SI (Sinker) 88.02 89.8 -7.04 4.84 34 20 / 58.82% 3 / 8.82% -1.7137 0.428
CH (Changeup) 81.75 84.1 -6.51 6.09 11 4 / 36.36% 0 / 0.00% -0.0666 0.459
SL (Slider) 81.85 84.7 2.74 -0.46 36 26 / 72.22% 0 / 0.00% -1.8542 0.455
CU (Curveball) 76.13 79.2 7.36 -10.13 18 10 / 55.56% 4 / 22.22% 0.4424 0.502


Another Astros starter had trouble throwing his fastball for strikes in Yankee Stadium. I wonder if there have been any studies done on if this is a ballpark effect or just something that happens against that lineup.

Myers got more swing-throughs than any other Astros starter against the Yankees, but that number was still only at seven. Wandy only had two and Moehler had five. Think about that. 12 whiffs in 312 pitches. That's only 3 percent. You want the real reason the Astros struggled to win any games in New York? Look not further.

Myers also struggled to throw strikes with the consistency that he has in past starts. Notice that, while many of his pitches were in the 50-55 percent range, he's usually in the 70 percent strike range with those same pitches. Either the Astros got a bad umpire crew this weekend or they just faced some very patient hitters.

Roy Oswalt

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 93.64 95.4 -1.45 5.67 39 33 / 84.62% 4 / 10.26% -2.3401 0.394
SI (Sinker) 94.00 95.7 -4.32 4.92 18 14 / 77.78% 5 / 27.78% -0.9770 0.394
CH (Changeup) 84.33 85.5 -5.21 -0.15 12 8 / 66.67% 2 / 16.67% -0.7017 0.439
SL (Slider) 86.15 92.6 2.20 0.59 8 4 / 50.00% 1 / 12.50% 0.4902 0.429
CU (Curveball) 71.48 78.8 3.88 -6.23 18 13 / 72.22% 4 / 22.22% 0.1637 0.515


Look at the sink Roy was getting on his four-seamer! That's almost a five-inch different in vertical break from his normal fastball. Granted, he's in front of a different Pitch F/X camera in Colorado, but that's still impressive. He also got swing-throughs on all five of his pitches and threw a high percentage of strikes. Basically, he was the exact opposite of any starter in the New York series.

Not knowing how accurate the cameras are up there, I don't want to ready anything else into the start, so I'll end with a note about his velocity. 93-95 MPH on a sinking fastball is just unfair. Any questions about whether Oswalt will regress soon are not showing in his pure stuff.

Felipe Paulino

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 95.15 97.9 -4.45 5.59 60 40 / 66.67% 3 / 5.00% 0.9478 0.388
CH (Changeup) 87.90 87.9 -5.26 4.79 1 1 / 100.00% 0 / 0.00% -0.0624 0.428
SL (Slider) 87.94 94.8 -1.13 -0.39 39 25 / 64.10% 10 / 25.64% -2.4568 0.420
CU (Curveball) 76.26 78.1 1.52 -4.35 7 5 / 71.43% 0 / 0.00% 0.0545 0.479
FT (TwoSeam Fastball) 95.45 96.4 -8.34 1.56 2 1 / 50.00% 0 / 0.00% 0.4297 0.390


How impressive is The Bearded One? His slider was just unhittable. 10 whiffs in 39 pitches. It still had that crazy cutting action which we've explored in the past. His fastball sat at 95 and touched 97, while generating a few swing-throughs of its own.

The only pitch that seems to need tightening is his curve. It was average at best here, though in the Colorado air, that could be misleading. He was able to throw it consistently for strikes, which is a good sign. Otherwise, there's not a lot to say. Paulino's fastball had the same vertical drop that Oswalt's did, which leads me to believe that's a product of the Coors system and not new movement on the pitch.

Astros sign pair of catchers: Alyson Footer tweeted Sunday that the Astros had reached agreements with two catcher, fifth round pick Ben Heath and 49th round pick Kenny Diaz. Heath will probably start at Tri-City as that team begins play on Friday. The rookie level Greeneville and the GCL Astros both begin on June 22.

I'm on record as liking the potential of Heath, so I'm glad to see him ready to start the season with the ValleyCats. Diaz was one of the few high school catchers who was a good bet to sign, coming out of Puerto Rico. Astros County also has a report up that the Astros have signed another undrafted player, Kentucky catcher Marcus Nidiffer. That makes four catchers signed since the draft.

There have also been unconfirmed reports that Mike Foltynewicz and 14th rounder Jamaine Cotton have signed, but neither have been announced by the team. Zach Levine wrote Sunday on his blog that Folty confirmed via text message that he has not signed, but he'll be in Houston this week. That probably means they'll wrap up negotiations then and he'll get slightly more than the reported 1.3 million.

Sickels reviews Astros draft: This was posted as a comment this weekend, but here's John Sickels' review of the Astros draft. His summary:

The Astros have gone against consensus in recent drafts and have had good results with it. DeShields and Folty were moving up draft boards rapidly, and while both might be slight overdrafts, neither were going to be around for subsequent picks and I don't think either are super-stretches. The Astros wanted them, so they picked them. I don't see anything wrong with that. Kvasnicka was slotted well, and college guys Wates and Doran went in appropriate rounds. Velasquez will need lots of time. Shirley is pretty raw for a college guy but intriguing from the left side. If they somehow sign Jacoby Jones away from LSU, this would be a terrific class. As it stands, it still looks pretty decent to me.

Go read his entire writeup, as he adds brief comments on all the picks in the first 10 rounds. He presents an interesting profile on Shirley, the lefty from Xavier. From this take and some of the others I've read in the last week, I'm a little higher on him now than I was the day of the draft. It may take him a while to refine his game, but he seems to have potential to become a starter, instead of just a LOOGY.

Oh, in case you were wondering, Andy Seiler ranked the Astros draft at No. 15, with an overall grade of B.

Scouting Perez: He's not an Astros prospect yet, but one of the guys who could headline a package by the Texas Rangers for Roy Oswalt is Martin Perez. Project Prospect breaks him down here, complete with some gifs of his motion and some talk about his arsenal.

Perez is one of the most highly rated pitching prospects in baseball and that's probably because of his fastball. I don't love the fact that he's only working off that one pitch but it sounds like his curve could be a plus pitch. I wodner if the Rangers are making him avoid his offspeed stuff to prevent an arm injury.

Would you feel good about Perez headlining an Oswalt trade?

Astros can't run or walk: The guys over at Beyond the Box Score have fun with graphs. This latest one is a great example of a truth we all know. The Astros are not good base runners.


Carlos Lee and Pedro Feliz are slow. Hunter Pence has bad baserunning instincts. Lance Berkman has good instincts but a bad wheel. Michael Bourn is the only above-average base runner on the team, and yet the rest of the guys are so bad that the Astros are down at -2.5.

Pretty crazy, but not surprising to many of you, I'm sure.

Berkman rests: Did you notice all those bat flips by Berkman on Saturday? One time, he held it almost halfway up the line before throwing it up in the air. He was getting more and more frustrated and his manager saw it. From Bernardo Fallas' notes:

"I kind of sensed a little frustration for him (Saturday), and it’s never a good thing to let that build up," manager Brad Mills said. "We talked a little bit yesterday and decided it would be a good idea to give him the day off."

Since the Astros have Monday off, Berkman will get a couple of days to cool off. He's hitting better lately than he did right after he came back from the knee injury. But, a 1 for 25 stretch in the past week can frustrate anyone. He was 9 for 32 in the week before that with a home run and two doubles. Let's hope that the off days get him out of this latest road trip funk.