Jeff Luhnow reportedly commented today that the Astro are set in the starting rotation, at least from positions one through three, but that their only need for the playoffs is for the occasional # 4 pitcher in a potential ALCS or World Series .
Well let’s hold off on that a bit. Maybe, just maybe, the Astros found a #4.
It’s only one game of course, but Jose Urquidy, fresh back up from AAA, was dominant today. His performance could rank as one of the top three starts by an Astros pitcher all year. He went seven innings, allowed two hits, no walks, and one run on a Shin-Soo Chu solo home run. The other hit was a ground ball that should have been ruled an error. Urquidy struck out nine.
Only Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have given up fewer hits in games this year, but Verlander also surrendered a walk in his game on on 05-21, and Cole allowed three walks on 04-30.
But what was particularly notable about today’s performance by Urquidy was his impressive command of all three of his pitches, especially his change up. Forty-five of his ninety-eight pitches were change ups, and 73.3% were strikes, eleven of the 45 were whiffs. In all, 63 of Urquidy’s pitches were strikes, and 18 were whiffs, an impressive 19.35% whiff rate.
And there was still more good news about the Astros pitching. Urquidy was followed by Chris Devenski, who has been almost written off this year as the last man off the bullpen bench. He looked like old “whip it” Devo tonight, striking out the side, relying on the old stand by, the circle of death change up, which he threw nine times, seven for strikes, four of those whiffs.
It was a glimpse of the All Star Devo of 2017.
Hector Rondon closed the game with a scoreless, hitless ninth inning.
Astros bats were active tonight as well, with four doubles and two home runs out out of 11 total hits.
The scoring started with two runs in the third when Myles Straw led off with a double, followed by a George Springer double, followed by a Michael Brantley RBI double. Brantley was 3 for 4 tonight.
The Astros would add three more runs in the fifth when Yuli Gurriel struck the killer blow of the night, a three run, two-out homer that scored Brantley and Yordan Alvarez. The Astros’ final run came on a Tony Kemp, opposite field, Crawford Box, solo home run in the sixth.
Yuli Gurriel continues to destroy. Since the last game in the Yankees series, June 23rd, he is slashing .386/.427/.892 for a 243 wRC+. (before tonight) Including tonight, in these 21 games, he has 13 home runs and 28 RBI. He is currently riding a nine game hitting streak and has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games. His home run tonight marks the fifth consecutive game in which Gurriel has homered at Minute Maid Park.
Whereas before this stretch Gurriel was ranked below average in the AL in wRC+, currently he is at 118 for the season, 30th in the AL. He is 15th in RBI at 57.
Tomorrow, another rookie takes the mound for the Astros, Rogelio Armenteros. He will face off with Lance Lynn of the Rangers.
Game time 1:10 CDT
Box score and videos HERE.