Much has been said this spring about the addition of three first base/designated hitter types (although Chris Carter appears ticketed for left field), but Brett Wallace does not care. After putting in the work with new hitting coach John Mallee, Wallace is certainly producing.
Today against the Pirates, Wallace came up to plate with the bases loaded in the third inning and promptly drove in all three runners with a double. Unfortunately that was not enough as the Astros ultimately lost 8-6 to the Pirates. But, that does not mean the afternoon was without bright spots.
Wallace was the star of the show as his three RBI double raised his average to .438. JD Martinez also seems to be finding his groove as his RBI single that tied the game at five raised his average for the spring to .353. One of the bright spots of the spring Robbie Grossman had another electrifying performance with a hit, a walk, a run and a stolen base. Grossman is now hitting .462 and seems intent on making it hard for the Astros not to take him north as part of the 25 man roster.
It was also nice to see Tyler Greene have success out of the leadoff spot with his four at bats. Greene had a hit and walk with two runs scored as he raised his average to .143. Jake Elmore who is also making some noise in the infield competition got the scoring started with an RBI single driving in Robbie Grossman after John Ely put the Astros in an early 5-0 hole.
Of the five runs Ely gave up, two were unearned compliments of a Tyler Greene throwing error once Sam Demel relieved him. It was another shaky outing for Ely who is in the mix for both a back end of the rotation spot but also a spot as a long man in the bullpen. Thus far this spring Demel has a 32.40 ERA, but his performance has been up and down. Today the runs he allowed to score belonged to Ely, but he would have gotten out of the second inning without damage had Greene not committed the error.
The one pitching bright spot was prospect Mike Foltynewicz’s scoreless third inning with a walk and a strikeout. Wallace and Martinez then cleared Ely from the wrong side of the decision but Jordan Lyles had another shaky outing for Houston. Lyles is questionably penciled in for a rotation spot to start the season, but I feel that can easily be up for debate depending on how he looks this spring.
He pitched 2.1 innings giving up three hits, three runs (two were earned) while walking one batter and striking out two. However the issue when analyzing spring starts is that it is a small sample size and Lyles also came in as a reliever. There is still a lot of spring left for Lyles to find his groove and to stretch out, so I would hold off on truly evaluating him.
On Monday the Astros are facing off again with the Tigers and Jarred Cosart will be taking the hill to start the game. So far this spring Cosart has only allowed one hit through four innings without give up a run. For obvious reasons, I will be intrigued to see how Cosart performs.