Astros: McCullers, Carter, and Springer Oh My!

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It is a great time to be a Houston Astros fan; it is been a while since most fans would be able to make that statement. Last night’s game was a big milestone for the Astros, as they played their 54th game, which represents a third of the season played. June 1st, or around that time to get a gauge of who is legit, and who are pretenders. The Astros have a 34-20 record, which is the second best record in major league baseball. Even though the Astros have been playing good recently, but three things happened in Wednesday’s game that could make them better.

It is June, can Chris Carter come out to play?

All the Astros’ opposing teams just put their head in the sand with what Chris Carter did on Wednesday’s. After struggling for most of April and May, Carter broke out in a big way Wednesday. He hit two home runs in the game; the second one gave the Astros the win for good. Last year Carter struggled like this and then broke out in June. Let’s look at the stats from this year and last year for Carter.

Chris Carter’s 2014 stats.

As you can see by these stats above, Carter did not have a great June in 2014. I am not sure why we think he should be good in June. He really exploded in August last year. Carter seemed to hit better in May than in June. Let us take a look at the stats from Chris Carter in 2015.

Chris Carters 2015 stats.

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We think of Chris Carter as a player who strikes out with a runner in scoring position, was anyone else surprised to see that Carter has 21 runs-batted-in May? This means that Carter does not always get a hit, but when he does, de drives in a run. He is ahead of his home run pace this year, so why are people picking on Chris Carter so much?

Last season he was hitting for power with more doubles also with the home runs, so that he only has four doubles. Hopefully, June is the month for Carter to get going because the lineup is very intimidating when he is hot.

Lance McCullers showed his upside

In his short career so far, McCullers has shown a live arm but consistently struggled in the second inning of his other starts. Before the game yesterday, I asked how many innings that McCullers would pitch? The answers are centered around 6-7 innings with 6-8 strikeouts. McCullers had not proved prior to Wednesday’s game that he can go deep, but there is no doubt after he pitched last night.

McCullers was hitting 97 mph consistently in the early innings, but he dominated with his ability to throw the baseball fast and slow. The name keeps coming up, McCullers reminds me of a young Roy Oswalt. He has 29 strikeouts in 24 innings. McCullers said in the post game show that he was working on his change-up with Brett Strom

Tonight, McCullers pitched nine innings while only allowing one run on four hits and eleven strikeouts. Yes, the rookie pitched a complete game, but it almost didn’t happen. In the ninth inning, McCullers got two outs to and was closing in on the 100 pitch count, then Adam Jones got a single. With McCullers now over the 100 pitch mark, manager A.J. Hinch walked out to the mound with Luke Gregerson warming up.

Hinch went to the mound and then went back to the dugout. McCullers was allowed to pitch to Chris Davis. He then got Davis to strikeout to end the game, after the game I asked McCullers one question.

CTH: What did you say to A.J. Hinch to let you finish the game?

McCullers: He looked at me and asked how I felt. Then he asked if I wanted (Chris) Davis, and I said absolutely.

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McCullers cannot pitch this great every game, but anything close to his effort today would be a big boost to the Astros rotation. I see the Astros rotation lining up like this for now.

McCullers moved his stock up closer to being an ace, versus the fifth man in the rotation. His presence could also allow the Astros to part ways with Hernandez. Not sure if the Astros will make a trade for a starter, but the emergence of McCullers has taken some of the wind out of the trading sails.

Is George ready to spring?

George Springer has struggled a little with the power game recently, so it was a good to see him go 2-3 with a home run. The 2015 George Springer is more patient at the plate but continues to strikeout. When he does strikeout, he frequently takes the pitchers deep into counts as the leadoff man.

Once Carter and Springer get really going, they could carry the Astros deep into the playoffs in 2015. The Astros are really fun to watch, and it’s good to expect them to win again.

Next: Astros Draft Targets: A Case for Jon Harris

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