Wednesday afternoon Astros batters fanned 14 times in a game started by journeyman left-hander Bruce Chen. On a day that saw 42 homers hit in 15 big league games, the Astros managed to waste a brilliant pitching performance from Jordan Lyles by scoring only once. For some, this was the last straw. The Astros are suffering through a lengthy slump that has fans calling for change. But just who’s fault is it that the Astros are unable to perform one of the most basic elements of the game? … put the bat on the ball.
When my friend Dewey arrived at work this morning the first thing he said to me was, “fire Mike Barnett!” Last night Alex and Brian discussed the possibility of firing Brad Mills in their podcast. But are the coaches really to blame? I don’t think so., but that doesn’t mean someone won’t be fired. That sort of thing can send a message. But I’d have to place the blame squarely on the guys who are out there swinging at bad pitches, the players. Sure the umpires helped out a little bit along the way. But you don’t rack up ridiculous numbers like these simply due to poor officiating.
Carlos Lee is one player who is definitely not to blame. Lee went on the disabled list with a strained hammy on June 1 and that’s just about when the trouble started. In 18 games this month the Astros have fanned 197 times while hitting only 20 homeruns. Lee has been back for the last five games and continues be the toughest player in the league to strikeout. Lee has a team-low 14.3% strikeout rate for the month.
Justin Maxwell has been the biggest offender among the regulars with a 42.1% K rate for the month. Obviously that’s not a good number, but Maxwell also has five homers this month. Fellow outfielder Jordan Schafer, on the other hand, has fanned at a 36.2% rate and has not produced a homerun. Brian Bixler is another big offender with a 36.4% K rate. The utility man has hit .333 with one homerun in ten games this month.
Maybe a day off at home will help what ails the Astros. The Cleveland Indians invade Minute Maid Park for a three-game series that starts with Flashback Friday tomorrow at 7:05 CDT.