Did you really think the Astros would go the entire spring without losing? Yes this sounds a bit odd considering the season will be considered a success by most if the Astros manage not to lose 100 games for the third straight year. For better or worse, we must fight the urge to over analyze each and every spring training game. Let’s take a look at what you should take away from the Astros 10-2 Monday defeat courtesy of the Cardinals.
Philip Humber had some control issues, but it could have been a lot worse. In his 2 innings Humber threw 43 pitches, and only 22 of them for strikes. The first inning was actually textbook for Humber as he retired the Cardinals in order. However, since it is spring training, Humber used the second inning to work on some breaking pitches which he had trouble controlling. That lead to 3 walks in the inning, but the damage was limited to an RBI double by David Freese. While the final line was not pretty, there are some positives to be taken from this performance. When Humber was concentrating more on pitching, he made quick work of St. Louis. Also he was able to limit the damage once he did get in trouble only giving up one run.
Things did not go as well for Sam Demel after his successful debut. Demel did not record an out and gave up 4 runs on 4 hits including home runs to Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. Again, it is still early in the spring and Demel did not come into the game without stress. As Humber was struggling through the second inning, Demel was up and warming. It is possible that since he was trying to get ready in a hurry, he was not as sharp as he could have been at this point in the spring when pitchers perform more in a vacuum. This is likely the role Demel will fill with the Astros this season.
We did see pitching prospect Paul Clemens pitch two innings today striking out one batter and also giving up a home run. It was not a good day for Dallas Keuchel as he gave up three runs and allowed five hits in just one inning of work. C.J. Fick was the only Astros pitcher not to give up a run as he pitched two scoreless innings. Fick has an outside chance at being considered for a bullpen role, or at the very least being on the AAA to Houston shuttle.
Marwin Gonzalez continued his scorching spring as he was the only Astro with 2 hits. This is in contrast to his competition, Tyler Greene, who continued his hitless spring by striking out in all three at bats. Gonzalez is obviously holding the early lead in the battle for shortstop.
Another Houston player who is making a case for making the 25-man roster is Nate Freiman. Freiman was 1-2 and scored one of the two Astros runs.
Tuesday sees the Astros playing in two split squad matchups with Erik Bedard taking the hill in one game and Jordan Lyles in the other. Both are currently penciled in for the rotation and it will be interesting to see how they start the spring.