Okay, we're at the point in the season when these game recaps all bleed together, right? You've seen this one before, with the Astros coming from behind and Carlos Lee providing a late-inning spark.
Er, well, maybe not that last part, but the Astros have been hitting well late in games in the past couple of months. These comebacks are getting to be a habit. I really enjoy seeing them beat a good team like this, especially when Joe Blanton looked absolutely unhittable with his 89 MPH fastball (srsly, Hunter? You struck out on a fastball that didn't crack 90 in the fourth inning. Be ashamed). Sidebar: Joe Blanton = a good comparable for a future Tanner Bushue? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
As you've noticed, I have completely given over to my annoying habit of writing in question form lately. There have been two posts in three days where I basically just asked a bunch of questions instead of doing any hard-hitting journalism. But, I have noticed a recent trend to question whether the Astros have any legitimate top-of-the-rotation starters right now. Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez and JA Happ seem to be viewed more as No. 3 guys instead of No. 2 or No. 1s.
What is a No. 1? To me, it's a guy who you know gives you the chance to win every time he's out there. He's the hope at the end of a four-game losing streak. He's the ace you hope can stare down the other team. He's the guy who can strike out over a guy per inning and regularly will fan eight, nine or 10 guys a game.
Well, Myers struck out nine tonight. Wandy struck out 10 on Saturday and Happ struck out six in six innings on Friday. In fact, Happ has struck out at least seven in every one of starts but the one-inning disaster. That's what you want, right? A guy who can get out of jams with a strikeout, right?
So, what else does a No. 1 do? He pitches deep into games, taking pressure off the bullpen while allowing only one or two runs and keeping the good guys with a chance to win. Myers has given up two or fewer earned runs in eight of his last nine starts. Isn't that a top of the rotation guy?
I know a lot of this categorization relies on a guy dominating in the playoffs, which these guys really haven't done yet. I'll give you that. But, what else do you want out of a starter? Are these classifications just on stuff? If so, doesn't that miss the whole point of the exercise? Shouldn't we be more worried about the results than grading their skills?
I don't know what I think, actually. I want to believe that Happ and Myers and Wandy could be a great top of the rotation, but I have my doubts about whether they can sustain this performance long-term. I can see why those doubts would translate into grading them as middle-of-the-rotation guys. That makes sense and I'm sure that's what a lot of you mean when you talk about this rotation. I'm just not entirely sure I buy the idea of a No. 1 being any different from what we've seen from Myers and Co. in the past two months.