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Astros Trending Bi-Weekly Review, April 11- April 24. Pitching.

It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.

MLB: ALDS-Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Team Pitching:

Astros Season Pitching until 4-24

Astros season pitching to 4-24

pitchers ERA/rank xFIP/rank SIERA/rank BB%/rank K%/rank WHIP/rank
pitchers ERA/rank xFIP/rank SIERA/rank BB%/rank K%/rank WHIP/rank
overall 3.68/6th 3.72/2nd 3.61/2nd 6.8/1st 26.8/3rd 1.04/1st
starter 4.04/6th 3.76/2nd 3.76/3rd 6.2/1st 26.0/4th 1.06/2nd
relief 2.96/1st 3.65/1st 3.34/1st 8.0/1st 28.4/1st 1.00/1st

Astros Pitching, Last 14 Days

Astros Pitching last 14 days

pitchers ERA/rank xFIP/rank SIERA/rank BB%/rank K%/rank WHIP/rank
pitchers ERA/rank xFIP/rank SIERA/rank BB%/rank K%/rank WHIP/rank
overall 4.13/3rd 4.05/3rd 3.78/2nd 7.3/2nd 18.8/2nd 1.03/1st
starter 4.82/8th 4.05/3rd 3.85/2nd 6.0%/4th 25.7/3rd 1.07/3rd
relief 2.88/1st 4.06/1st 3.70/2nd 9.6/5th 26.7/5th 0.96/1st

As terrible as the pitching seemed at times the last two weeks, the team’s season ranking relative to the rest of the AL did not change much. And even the statistics for this recent two weeks period, a period in which for three games the Astros allowed 29 runs and a 9.63 ERA, were not much different in terms of league rank than in the previous period.

At the start of this period the Astros ranked fifth overall in ERA, and now, even with the terrible three game stretch, they rank 6th. And for the last two weeks, ERA ranks 3rd, although the starting pitching has moved down a few notches, and the overall ranking is being sustained more by the bullpen. By most measures the Astros’ bullpen is the best in the league.

Ranking ahead of the Astros in overall ERA, in order, are: Rays, Blue Jays, Tigers, Yankees and Indians. The Mariners and A’s are just behind the Astros.

One note of caution. The Astros pitching has the lowest BABIP in the league at .255, and the bullpen is even luckier, at .247. Peripherals predict that the bullpen ERA should go up about one half run in the long run. But hopefully we will see no more starting pitching meltdowns like we saw this week from Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh.

Astros Individual Pitching, Season up Until 4-24

Astros Individual Pitching, 4/11-4/24

Starters:

No one would be surprised that the best starter for the Astros so far has been Justin Verlander. They might be surprised to find that Wade Miley has been the team’s second best starter. Or that Gerrit Cole has been the worst. Gerrit Cole’s ERA is 5.22, Collin McHugh’s 4.78.

But wait! For both these players the ERA has been inflated by one terrible game this week. On April 21 McHugh gave up 9 earned runs in 3.1 innings. Before that outing his ERA was 1.96 and OPS against .465, but the one game brought his ERA up almost 3 runs. On April 20, Cole gave up 8 earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched. Before that his ERA was 3.24 and his OPS against was .561. This one game brought his ERA up two runs.

Were these back to back bad games by two key starters signs of trouble ahead or aberrations? Time will tell, but I believe they are aberrations.

Relievers:

So far the Astros group of late inning relievers of Will Harris, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna are as good or better than any 7-8-9th inning trio since the days of Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner. Between the three of them only Osuna has given up but a lone run. They are the reason the Astros bullpen leads the league.

Yes. I know. We really have never seen Harris, Pressly, Osuna finish a game in that order like Wagner and company did back in the old days, but they’re still damn good.

Hector Rondon has also been used with some effectiveness in higher leverage situations, but after that AJ Hinch’s choices are rather risky.

Framber Valdez and Chris Devenski are both above 4.00 ERA. Valdez has improved in limited time since returning from AAA, but in the last two weeks Devenski’s ERA is close to six. After his demotion to AAA last September, it seems as though Devenski has not fully returned to form. Josh James has not shown the dominance or command he displayed last September, and has a 7.11 ERA in almost 13 innings pitched.

editors note. Gerrit Cole pitched 7.0 innings this evening allowing only 2 runs, thus lowering his ERA to 4.71.