Every five days or so, people ask me the same question: Why is Jordan Lyles still in the big leagues? It’s a bit of a stumper but the easy answer is because he’s to good for AAA. Lyles started the year at Oklahoma City where he went 5-0 with a 33/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven starts. But the 21 year-old has struggled mightily at the big league level. The Astros have won only twice in his 12 starts this season. Last year the team was 3-12 in games started by Lyles.
Is this simply a case of Lyles getting beat because the Astros are a bad team? Not exactly. Sure, Jordan would probably have more wins if he pitched for the Yankees, but his numbers don’t compare favorably against the league average. Lyles ranks below the league average in pretty much every major statistical category that can be measured. Take a look at the numbers for 2012.
Lyles isn’t even close to the league average in any of those important categories. Another telling stat is his success (or lack thereof) against hitters the second and third time through the batting order. Lyles allows a pedestrian .655 OPS to hitters the first time through the order. That’s good! The second time around hitters are producing a more respectable .846 OPS against Jordan. the third time through the order hitters are raking to the tune of a Pujols-like 1.003 OPS.
These numbers would suggest that Lyles already has the “stuff” to be competitive. He just hasn’t developed his mental game to the point where he is able to keep hitters off-balance. More on Lyles later.
A couple of days ago Alex asked: Where are Wallace & Paredes? Most Astros fans have been clamoring for Wallace to be brought up ever since Carlos Lee was sent to South Beach. Now we are being told that Paredes is changing positions… again. The decision to move Paredes to the outfield was long overdue. He was never going to be a plus defender in the infield and his speed will be better utilized in the outfield. Throw in the fact that the Astros outfielders, as a group, have the lowest slugging percentage in the league and we come to the realization that something has to be done.
Will Paredes and Wallace be arriving in Houston any time soon? Maybe… or maybe not. One theory is that the Astros don’t want their top prospects subjected to the losing that is currently going on at the big league level. Although, Jordan Lyles would certainly question that particular theory. Why would Lyles be treated differently? Is his psyche stronger than the others? Some would say yes. Besides, all of these guys were around last year when the team set the franchise record with 106 losses.
But Jeff Luhnow wasn’t here last year. The AAA team is playing extremely well and likely headed for a playoff appearance. I think Luhnow would rather have his future stars enjoying success in the minors as opposed to taking their lumps in the majors right now. It’s just a theory I’m throwing out there.
But the big league team needs to experience a little bit of success too. How can we right the ship without permanently scarring the more promising youngsters? There are guys at AAA that aren’t part of the big picture and might be able to help in Houston right now. Scott Moore is one of these guys who is already here. Honestly, I think we’ve seen his best and he should be sent back down in favor of Mike Hessman (if Wallace is not going to be promoted.)
Guys that have no business being on the big league club are: Carlos Corporan, Fernando Abad, and Fernado Rodriguez. They should be replaced by Landon Powell, Xavier Cedeno, and Mickey Storey respectively. Enerio Del Rosario can go too. The team has one too many relievers anyway. The decision to keep eight pitchers in the bullpen has handcuffed Brad Mills repeatedly this season. Bring up another position player. Brad Snyder has a .924 OPS at AAA. Let’s see what he can do.
As I mentioned earlier, the outfielders have failed to provide enough offense. J.D. Martinez has options left and would probably benefit from some time in the minors. He could help keep the RedHawks in contention and Fernando Martinez (.904 OPS) could be brought up to be the every day leftfielder. Fans were excited when Martinez was called up in early June. But F-Mart appeared in only four games prior to suffering a concussion and has yet to get another chance.
I’m even ready to give Brandon Barnes a shot in center. I’ve pretty much had it with Jordan Schafer and I’m willing to risk him getting claimed off waivers. He’s not the centerfielder of the future, George Springer is.
As for Lyles, go ahead and send him back to OKC. He can help the RedHawks win and Armando Gallaraga can be brought up to take his spot in the rotation. Let Lyles try and gain a little confidence and bring him back next month when Wandy is traded.