Some things to talk about while the Astros wives and girlfriends raise a bunch of money for tornado relief...
1) Matt Dominguez
Usually, we pick out some choice news stories to cover in this place each day. Occasionally, we'll do some research or talk about a debate raging among the fan base. Today is going to be unusual in that it's both a Three Things post and a continuation of this morning's Question of the Week. Namely, what's going on with these players?
Instead of breaking them into separate articles, I thought we'd quickly check in with each player to see how they've been doing lately. First up, smooth fielding third baseman Matt Dominguez.
In case you didn't notice, Matty D has gone cray-cray in the home run department. He's now second on the team with seven homers this season, trailing only Chris Carter. FanGraphs' updated projections say that Matty D is now on pace to hit 18 homers this season.
And yet, his walk rate is non-existent and his on-base percentage remains below .300. Is Dominguez really having a good season?
So far, he's doing exactly what he did for Houston last season after being installed at third base. He's playing good defense, hitting for power and never ever walking. The only difference is luck on batted balls, as Matty D's BABiP fell from .299 last season to .265 so far this season. That'd explain the drop in his averages across the board.
The question, then, is whether his power and defense are enough to keep him at the hot corner for the rest of the season? When does his 3.5 percent walk rate get too god-awful to keep around? How many home runs does he have to hit to still have an on-base percentage under .300?
The answer is never...
2) Jose Cisnero
Though Paul Clemens gets all of the hype, the pitcher called up alongside him earlier this season has quietly been putting together a great season. In 23 innings this year, Jose Cisnero has struck out 19 and walked just six with a 3.13 ERA and a 3.31 FIP.
Cisnero's SIERA entering Sunday's game was 3.38 and only figures to be lower after another three shutout innings in relief. The underrated prospect is getting by with a fastball that is about two runs above league average and a cutter that is slightly above average. His breaking pitches have been so-so, with only his slider being a bad pitch for him.
What can we expect out of him going forward, though? His numbers so far track pretty closely with his minor league totals. His strikeout rate is similar, as are his home run rate, his left on base percentage and his BABiP is entirely normal.
The question that lingers over Cisnero is his control. He walked almost two batters per nine innings more in the minors than he has so far in the majors. He's also walked at least one batter in his last five appearances, which may suggest that number will come up. Still, he's yet to walk more than one batter in any appearance this season.
Has Cisnero figured out how to be "effectively" wild in relief? Could he be this effective if he transitioned into the starting rotation?
3) Marwin Gonzalez
Now for the one player on a cold streak. Ever since Game Breaker broke up Yu Darvish's perfect game, his season has been on a downhill slide. Sure, he hit well for a couple weeks there at the beginning, but he's been perfectly average since then.
Scratch that. In May, MarGo has been entirely forgettable. He's hitting .161/.172/.177 this month in 62 plate appearances with one extra-base hit (a double), 11 strikeouts and one walk. Yikes.
That's a big reason why Ronny Cedeno has eaten into his playing time recently. In the past seven days, MarGo has started four times and pinch-run in another. He's currently in the middle of an 0 for 7 streak and is 2 for his last 18.
Still, Gonzalez has been exactly what we expected of him last year: a replacement-level shortstop. His defense hasn't been good or bad at short, according to the early, early metrics. His bat has also been bad lately, but not bad enough yet to make him a sub-replacement level guy overall.
Right now, MarGo has been worth 0.0 fWAR. You can't get more n the money than that.
What's the question with him, then? Well, it appears that manager Bo Porter is simply going to ride the hot hand and try get Cedeno starts when he can to get his bat into the lineup. Do the Astros ever move away from this and give Cedeno the full-time job at short? Or, would he, too, be just a replacement level guy waiting for more plate appearances?