RHP Joe Musgrove (2-0, 2.65 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 17.0 IP) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 1.10 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 16 1/3 IP)
RHP Lance McCullers (1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.2 IP) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7.0 IP)
2017-03-24T10:13:39-05:00Correa, Altuve, Bregman, Keuchel, McCullers! Feel the excitement! But there’s another guy who might be better than all of them. In an upcoming Starting Nine article, the staff gave their predictions for the upcoming baseball season. Only one [spoiler alert!] respondee picked Center Fielder George Springer to be the best offensive performer for the Astros in 2017. This isn’t a terrible surprise, considering Jose Altuve still plays baseball and considering the breakout into super-stardom that many fans consider to be fait accompli for shortstop Carlos Correa. [note: I hope putting that cart ahead of that particular horse doesn’t lead to massive disappointment for a lot of people. I want to see how he plays first.] Why is he underrated? Despite there being a couple of obvious and very deserving candidates for Astros top bat, I can’t shake the feeling that Springer is being underrated by many fans. Here are a few reasons why this might be so: He’s old news. Springer’s Rookie Season of 2014 really wasn’t that long ago, but it sure feels like it was. That club went 71-91, finishing 4th in the AL West. The best qualified non-Altuve batters were Dexter Fowler and Chris Carter. Then Jason Castro. They started winning. Springer faded into the background as a relic of the “old loser Astros”. Health. Springer missed a lot of games during his first two seasons due to various injuries, including crashing into the outfield wall. As a result, his seasonal counting stats from 2014-2015 aren’t particuarly awe-inspiring, despite great rate stats. Other exciting players. Since 2014, SP Dallas Keuchel has won a Cy Young Award and the Astros have called up mega-prospects Correa, Lance McCullers, and Alex Bregman. They traded for exciting 25-year-old closer Ken Giles. They signed an exciting international free agent in Yuli Gurriel and a future Hall-of-Famer in Carlos Beltran. He’ll never be “the best” at his position. Through no fault of Springer, he entered the league at the same time as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, who could go down as two of the greatest outfielders—nay, baseball players—of all time. While Altuve is the best second baseman in baseball and Correa has the potential to be the best shortstop, Springer can never be better than 2nd-best at either center field or right field because of generational-type players elsewhere in the league. Meanwhile... Meanwhile, and for whatever reason, Springer wasn’t talked about very much beyond “Glad we have him” and occasionally, “seems to be a team leader because of his personality.” Everybody acknowledges that Springer is good at baseball, and some even toss around “really good”. Thus far in his short career (only 342 games!), Springer has hit .258/.356/.460 (.806 OPS) wit 65 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He has scored 220 runs and knocked in 174 fellow Astros. Prorated to a single 162-game season, that’s 31 home runs, 104 runs, 82 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. A couple caveats to those numbers. First, some of those numbers are from the crappy 2014 Astros, which depresses his run and RBI counts slightly compared to what they would have been on a good team. Second, those numbers represent in large part his first two seasons in the Majors, a time period during which all players are going through an adjustment to the difficulty of competition. And yet, during that time, his average performance was close to MVP-level. A Historical Perspective George Springer hasn’t just been good, he has been great. Maybe not Hall-of-Fame bound great, but he’s been darn close to that next tier. During his age 24 through 26 seasons, Springer batted to the tune of a 128 wRC+. In the simplest terms, that means that his offensive performance was 28% more valuable than that of the average major leaguer during that same time span (2014-2016). Fangraph.com’s search features give us a handy tool to see how this stacks up from a historical perspective. From 1962 through 2016, there were thirty-two qu[...]
2017-03-24T09:37:00-05:00Luke Gregerson and Alex Bregman are WBC champions. The Houston Astros sent eight players to the World Baseball Classic, they returned with seven (Kevin Chapman was claimed off waivers) and two returned as champions. Team United States with defacto closer Luke Gregerson and super sub Alex Bregman knocked off Team Puerto Rico with Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran in the 2017 WBC Final. All seven players currently on the Astros roster shined for their country in the WBC, let us take at look at them: Carlos Correa Correa’s Puerto Rico team posted an impressive 8-0 record to reached the WBC Final. Correa batted in the No. 3 hole for Team PR throughout the tournament. Correa batted .333 (8x24) with a double, three home runs, nine RBIs, two stolen bases and 1.250 OPS in eight games. He additionally scored 10 runs. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1244004583&topic_id=11493214&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1243994583&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. Carlos Beltran Carlos Beltran and Correa were at the heart of the PR lineup during the 2017 WBC. Beltran batted cleanup and batted .435 (10x23) with a double, five RBIs, and .997 OPS in seven games. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1237283483&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1236415783&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1235205883&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. Jose Altuve Jose Altuve is the heart and soul of the Houston Astros, it was no different for Team Venezuela. Altuve even switched over to third base when injuries hit Venezuela hard. Altuve batted .259 (7x27) with one RBI and a .545 OPS in seven games. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1240313383&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1239597083&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1237729283&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. Luke Gregerson Luke Gregerson may have been the biggest surprise of the tournament for the Astros. He became the answer for Jim Leyland at closer for Team USA. Gregerson appeared in four games, picking up three saves. He allowed no hits, struck out three and walked one over four innings. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1244467883&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. frameborder="0" height="336" width="600" src="http://m.astros.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1242455583&topic_id=8879000&width=600&height=336&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. Alex Bregman Alex Bregman got lost in the shuffle in the Team USA lineup. Bregman was 2-for-4 in two games with one strik[...]
Who doesn't want a 45-pound eagle statue in the dugout?
Team Dominican Republic had plantains. Team Israel had a giant mensch. And Team Untied States had a giant 45-pound eagle sculpture as a team mascot in the dugout.
But did you know who the source of the mascot? It was Houston Astros relief pitcher and Team USA closer, Luke Gregerson. Gregerson got the statue from his father-in-law, Chuck, who's a big fan of Eagles — reports Houston Chronicle's Jake Kaplan.
Gregerson returned to Astros camp this week with the Eagle and it found a home in the Astros clubhouse.
The eagle clearly had some level of mojo on Gregerson, who was lights out on the mound for Team USA. Gregerson appeared in four games, picking up three saves — including the save that sent the stars and stripe to the WBC Final. He allowed no hits, struck out three and walked one over four innings.
The Astros may need to hang onto that eagle.
The momentum was completely in Puerto Rico’s favor. PR was 8-0 in World Baseball Classic play including a 6-5 over Team USA in round two. But as the saying goes in baseball, momentum is the next day's starting pitcher.
That pitcher for Team USA was the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman. Stroman shut down the high-powered Puerto Rico offense headlined by Astros sluggers Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran for six innings.
The United States would need just one swing of the bat for the winning run, it came in the third inning with a two-run blast from Ian Kinsler. But the US would add two more runs in the fifth, two in the seventh and a single run the eighth behind Christian Yelich, Andrew McCutchen, Brandon Crawford, and Giancarlo Stanton.
Team USA used one major advantage over Puerto Rico in the final three innings of the game by flexing their bullpen muscle. Sam Dyson, Pat Neshek, and David Robertson pitched three clean innings to close out the game.
Stroman was named the 2017 WBC MVP for his effort and Team USA took home the WBC crown for the first time in three tries.
2017-03-23T08:45:01-05:00Here are some prospects who could breakout in 2017 As Astros fans, we have been blessed with prospects having breakout seasons year after year. In 2016 it was Ramon Laureano, in 2015 it was Francis Martes, in 2014 it was Brett Phillips. Not every system has breakout prospects, but fortunately the Astros have. This is what makes the Astros' system so fun to watch and keep up with. Here are some prospects I think have the chance to be the "breakout" prospects of 2017. For this list I will try to avoid guys ranked in the team's top 30 prospects. For reference, here is my list prior to the 2016 season. Cristian Javier, RHP Javier was signed by the Astros in 2015 as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic. In 2015 as an 18 year old he pitched for the DSL Astros posting a 2.13 ERA with 9 BB/50 K in 42.1 IP. Javier made his 2016 debut with the GCL Astros on June 27th. He was 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 37 K in 25.1 IP. He was then promoted to Greeneville where he had a 1.75 ERA with 29 K in 25.2 IP. Javier doesn't necessarily have plus stuff but really knows how to pitch and attack hitters. His fastball ranges from 88-93 MPH and he mixes a good slider and average curveball. When I asked a scout if Javier had more pitchability than raw stuff his reply was "yes, but raw stuff definitely there". Javier will be just 20 years old in 2017. 2016 Stats: 4-2, 2.29 ERA, 51 IP, 34 H, 18 BB, 66 K, 11.6 K/9 Bryan De La Cruz, OF De La Cruz was signed by the Astros in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic. He made his Astros system debut in 2014 when he split time between both DSL teams hitting .262 with a .704 OPS in 59 games. In 2015 he made his stateside debut hitting .242 in 44 games with the GCL Astros. De La Cruz played the 2016 season with Greeneville and Tri-City and started to show his potential. He hit just .239 overall but had 19 BB/33 K and 3 HR in 44 games. De La Cruz has a good body at 6'2" and 175 lbs with the chance to add more power as he grows. He has the classic right field profile with power and a big arm in the outfield. He will be just 20 in 2017 and should make his full season debut with Quad Cities. 2016 Stats: 44 G, .239 BA/.331 OBP/.396 SLG, 4 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 19 BB/33 SO Lupe Chavez, RHP Chavez was originally signed out of Mexico by the Blue Jays in 2014. He was originally an outfielder in Mexico but made the transition to the mound and it looks like it was the right decision so far. The Astros acquired Chavez last July in the deal that sent Scott Feldman to the Blue Jays. Chavez pitched in rookie ball in 2016 and posted a 1.38 ERA with 10 BB/41 K in 45.2 IP. Like Javier, Chavez's stuff may not be considered top notch but he knows how to pitch. He has a fastball that sits low 90s (touching 92/93) and a very good changeup that flashes above average. He is listed at 6'2" and just 150 lbs, so plenty of room to grow too. 2016 Stats: 4-1, 1.38 ERA, 45.2 IP, 36 H, 10 BB, 41 K, 8.1 K/9 Frankeny Fernandez, OF The Astros signed Fernandez out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 at just 16 years old. He debuted in the Astros system in 2014 playing for the DSL Astros and the GCL Astros combining to hit .300 with 13 2B, 37 RBI, 35 SB in 69 games. In 2015, Fernandez played the season with the GCL Astros and just .148 in 43 games. Fernandez had a better 2016 season with Greeneville hitting .223, though with a .713 OPS (102 wRC+). He showed off some pop with 17 XBHs in 52 games, to go along with 20 SB. He also posted a very respectable 13.2% walk rate and 24.6% strikeout rate. Fernandez is a toolsy outfielder/second baseman. He has very good speed and a good build. He will be just 20 years old for the 2017 season. 2016 Stats: 52 G, .223 BA/.341 OBP/.372 OBP, 10 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 20 SB, 30 BB/56 SO I wanted to list Jorge Alcala and Hector Perez (both RHP) here but they seem to be talked about a bit. I tried to choose guys who are under th[...]
The US is on the brink of a WBC title against an undefeated Puerto Rican club looking to avenge a gold medal game loss in 2013.
Pitching Matchup: RHP Marcus Stroman (0-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.1 IP) vs. RHP Seth Lugo (2-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 11.0 IP)