Tonight, the Astros beat the Tigers 4-3 in walk-off fashion on a solo home run by slumping catcher Jason Castro. Castro, who had been 4 for 16 this week prior to that plate appearance, deposited the ball over the right-center field wall to give the Astros a 2-game win streak.
The Lowrie Trade was Awful
Not really, I'm just trolling you. And other than in this one sentence, I will not mention Chris Carter. After throwing 7 innings and one earned run tonight against a star-studded Tigers lineup, Brad Peacock now has a 4.21 ERA as the Astros' 5th starter. Over the past 30 days, Peacock has pitched 28 innings and boasts a 2.57 ERA. I repeat, he's the Astros' 5th starter. He's being paid $0.5M, and is only just reaching his first arbitration offseason this winter. Jed Lowrie, traded to the A's for a trio including Peacock, is being paid $5.3 million to hit .215/.313/.326 on the season.
Last year, the Astros' 5th starter was Lucas Harrell with a 5.98 ERA. In 2012? J.A Happ with a 4.83 ERA. 2011? Jordan Lyles at 5.02. 2011? Felipe Paulino at 4.40. I think you get my point.
If Carter never plays another game for the Astros (he will), and if Stassi never makes the majors (he should), Brad Peacock all by himself is making it look like the Astros got the better end of that deal.
The only damage allowed by Peacock came on a first-pitch homer by Nick Castellanos in the 4th inning.
Pardon My Rant
I've taken a lot of crap around TCB over the past three seasons for being a vocal doubter of Jonathan Villar's ability to be a viable major leaguer. Mostly, my issue has been with his bat, which has been well-below-average for his entire career and has been pitiful in the majors. Whenever I bring up the fact that he's, for example, hitting .205/.258/.352 (worst in the AL among regular shortstops), the hoards of defenders come out of the woodwork to proclaim that Villar's "defensive excellence" overwhelms his awful bat.
Well, my friends, after watching Villar commit yet another boneheaded error on a routine play, he is now 2nd-worst among AL shortstops in FPCT and has the 2nd-most errors. He's 2nd-worst in Fangraphs' defensive component in WAR and 2nd-worst in UZR/150. And I don't want to hear anything about shifts. He has not been a good defensive player this season. I know he's young. I know he has tools. But how long will so many fans make excuses in the face of continued poor performance at the plate and on the field?
To be fair, Villar started a double play early in the game that was specacular on camera and deserves a SportsCenter top 10 nod. But my glee at seeing that play was completely erased by seeing him throw a routine out at first into the dirt five feet in front of Singleton that allowed Eugenio Suarez to score the tie run, which would have been the 3rd out of the 8th inning. Can we please stop pretending that Villar is a good defensive shortstop? He's just not.
Grit and Guts
How amusing is it that yet another Jose Altuve multi-hit game gets buried deep in the body of a game recap? After knocking three more hits and stealing his AL-leading 31st and 32nd bases (one of which was a swipe of home that might be re-classified as not-a-stolen-base at a later date by official scorers), Altuve is now hitting .340 on the season and .385 over the past month. That's...pretty good.
The game would probably have been blown open early by the Tigers were it not for a couple lasers from the outfield. Both George Springer and L.J. Hoes threw perfect strikes from near the wall to get a runner trying to stretch out doubles. Also, for what it's worth, Hoes looked really good in left field tonight.
Jason Castro continued to get beat up tonight, including once having his mask knocked clear off his face by a foul ball, and Jon Singleton looked like he got a rug burn on his wrist by sliding into the wall while chasing down a foul.
In addition to Villar's throw in the dirt, the Astros made several cringe-worthy defensive plays. Springer bobbled a ball in right that bounced out of his glove, which was only not ruled an error because he had no prayer of throwing out the runner anyway. Singleton chased down a foul ball past the first base line, only to seemingly be called off by Springer at the very last minute. Who knows what was really said, but Singleton allowed the ball to drop, earning him the error. Afterwards, Springer seemed (on camera at least) to own up. Either way, it was sloppy. Also, a passed ball by Jason Castro led to the Tigers' first run, which was not charged to Peacock.
The Bullpen Continues to Shine
Once Peacock came out of the game, the bullpen pitched 4-1/3 innings of 1-hit baseball. Buchanan followed Sipp, who followed Qualls, who followed Veras (who earned the blown save due to the Villar error, though the run was unearned), who followed Downs. In all, the bullpen allowed just one walk and struck out two.
Over the past week, the Astros' bullpen has a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings pitched. Overall, the season numbers are depressed by the likes of Jerome Williams, Kyle Farnsworth, Paul Clemens, and Josh Fields, but the current relief corps has been quietly very good.
Story of the Game
Do yourself a favor and watch that video link.