So, that game happened. Not a lot of good, unless you’re a fan of lively Twitter debates about whether Martín Maldonado or Yainer Díaz should catch Hunter Brown. I mean, I don’t think it mattered who caught Brown when he was this inefficient against the Mariners on Friday.
With Brown approaching 100 innings before the All-Star break, the question has to be raised about his workload for the remainder of the season. The right-hander threw a career-high 126 1⁄3 innings between Sugar Land and Houston, not counting the postseason. Brown’s future is bright, especially if he can avoid bouts of inefficiency and lapses of control. The Astros would also like to manage his workload as recent struggles mount (7.23 ERA in his last 18 2⁄3 innings). However, based on how the rotation is currently situated, the organization may not have much of a choice on the matter.
A workload question also has to be raised about the bullpen, specifically Phil Maton and Bryan Abreu. Both have now appeared in at least 40 games this season, with Abreu holding a slight lead at 41 appearances. They’re easily on pace to surpass their previous career-highs in appearances — 67 for Maton, 55 for Abreu — by October. Unfortunately, their usage rates are a symptom of Rafael Montero’s struggles along with the lack of depth in a rotation decimated by injury. By the way, Ryan Pressly is also approaching the 40 appearance mark himself. With the offense struggling at times to score runs, the margin for error has shrunk for this staff, which necessitates relying on the best arms to navigate the later innings in close games.
In terms of the lineup, it was also a whole lot of bad. Only one extra-base hit along with four singles led to their lone run. Did I mention zero walks? There wasn’t much worth writing about from that angle and deservingly so. I am stating the obvious here, but without Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez, this lineup will struggle more times than usual. If there was a highlight of the game, it was either watching Brown striking out eight in the first three innings or watching Bligh Madris being the first position player to pitch for the Astros this season.
I prefer watching Brown striking out eight in the first three innings, but I also wanted an excuse to use this GIF of Madris pitching. Yeah, it was that kind of game.