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Tuesday's Three Astros Things

September 3, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Edgar Gonzalez (31) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at PNC Park. The Houston Astros won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
September 3, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Edgar Gonzalez (31) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fifth inning at PNC Park. The Houston Astros won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

If Houston wins tomorrow, that's called a winning streak. It has happened before.

1) Minor league awards - Zachary Levine handed out some minor league awards yesterday. Who were his winners of made-up awards?

MVP: Jonathan Singleton

Cy Young: Mike Foltynewicz

Steps Forward: DDJ; Nick Tropeano

Steps Backward: Tanner Bushue; Paul Clemens

No real quibbles here, as I think he nailed almost every one of these. Tim may disagree with Clemens, since he has brought up multiple times since last Top 30 podcast that Clemens didn't really have great peripherals last season. So, he's not exactly taking a step backwards as the perception of him has taken a step back.

Do you agree with these? Is there anyone would add/change?

2) Pelfrey shopping? - Since we're in the September doldrums, let's wildly speculate about potential free agents Houston may be interested in. Let's assume my Kyle Lohse idea is bunk, since he'd be too expensive. Same goes for Edwin Jackson and most of the upper end of the free agent market. Who's left?

Well, how about a guy like Mike Pelfrey? The big Mets right-hander just went through Tommy John surgery in April and only started three games. He figures to be too expensive in his final year of arbitration, which means the Mets may just non-tender him to keep their payroll costs more controlled.

While Pelfrey's peripherals have never been great, he pitches a lot of innings and doesn't give up many home runs. That is largely because he pitches in a very friendly park for pitchers; he's got a .48 home run rate in his career at home and twice that on the road. Add in higher strikeout and lower walk numbers at home in his career and it's clear that there's a high risk in bringing Pelfrey into a new environment.

However, if we look at his xFIP (a good place to start if we're predicting future performance), he's got a rate right around 4.50, which would not be a terrible investment in Houston's rotation. With the TJ surgery, there's also questions on whether Pelfrey would be able to come back in a timely manner or at the same level he was at in the past few seasons.

So, does he make sense for Houston? I think he's a risk, but if Houston could sign in for $3-4 million for next year, he could be a very interesting reclamation project. I'd imagine he and the team would want a one-year deal with an option on the second, like Houston signed with Chris Snyder this year.

3) Scouting Edgar Gonzalez - Did you like that win yesterday? Well, thank Edgar Gonzalez, who came out of nowhere to pitch a gem of a game. How did he do it? Let's take a look at Pitch F/X to figure out why he was effective.

Here's his breakdown via Brooks Baseball.

Pitch Statistics
Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Whiffs / % SNIPs / % Linear Weights
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 89.16 92 -7.02 5.48 18 11 / 61.11% 1 / 5.56% 8 / 53.33% 0.2114
SI (Sinker) 88.58 92.2 -8.61 5.66 23 16 / 69.57% 3 / 13.04% 10 / 58.82% -0.2219
CH (Changeup) 78.16 83.6 -7.16 5.15 14 9 / 64.29% 1 / 7.14% 5 / 50.00% 0.9605
SL (Slider) 75.33 78.2 1.61 -1.51 22 15 / 68.18% 2 / 9.09% 13 / 65.00% -1.1806
FC (Cutter) 83.84 84.8 -2.37 4.72 5 3 / 60.00% 0 / 0.00% 2 / 50.00% -0.4967
Pitch classifications provided by the Gameday Algorithm.
SNIPs are "Strikes Not In Play" and do not include any balls in play.

This is another case where the Gameday Algorithm may be making too fine a point about Edgar's two fastballs. Look first at the speeds, where the average for the four-seam and sinker at virtually identical. Then, we see that the vertical break is also virtually the same, along with horizontal break that is different, but not enough to maybe call this two different pitches. I think Gonzalez throws a heavy fastball as his main pitch. Sometimes, it tails in on right-handers more than others, which is the main way to differentiate these "two" pitches.

The change was by far his most effective pitch, and you can see why. He didn't use it often, but it profile so similarly to his fastball that the change in speed is very effective. That horizontal and vertical break is very, very close to his fastball, just 10 MPH slower.

His slider also moved okay, as he was able to get some swing-throughs on it and also throw it for called strikes/fouls. That's a nice three-pitch mix, though his slider is a little unusual in its speed. The league-average slider comes in at 83 MPH, so his is about eight miles slower than that. Not a huge deal, but worth noting it's not necessarily a typical slider.

I don't want to go into a ton of depth on this, though, because we're going off one PItch F/X camera for his data. If he gets a few more starts under his belt, we'll have a better understanding of how he's pitching and what he does well. For now, it's a nice start.