Houston Astros Farm Report: Grizzlies clinch division, but bats go cold

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In the first season for the Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, the team clinched the first playoff appearance for the Fresno Grizzlies franchise since 1998. From 1998-2014, the Grizzlies were the minor-league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants until last offseason when the Astros reached a deal with the team.

At the moment, though, those playoffs can’t come soon enough for the team. The Grizzlies lost seven of their eight games on the final road trip of the season. The Triple-A affiliate notched only one win last week, which came from the latter game of a doubleheader on Tuesday against the Iowa Cubs.

Bats go cold

The theme of the week was a lack of offense, as several hitters went through their worst stretch offensively for the month.

The Grizzlies welcomed back Preston Tucker but lost Max Stassi to the Astros after Jason Castro‘s injury. Key cogs in the rotation Tyson Perez and Brady Rodgers were also unavailable last week, both spending time on the seven-day DL.

Tucker went 6-for-29 last week with the Grizzlies and hit one home run, a two-run shot that provided all of the offense for the club in Sunday night’s 4-2 loss to the Omaha Storm Chasers.

Tyler White finally slowed down his torrid pace, recording only one hit over a five-game stretch before getting back on track and recording five hits, five walks and only one strikeout over his next four games.

Matt Duffy had a rough week, recording only three hits and two RBIs in seven games. The third baseman, who has been on fire post All-Star break, has a .167 batting average over his last ten games.

Some fans may be looking for Jon Singleton to come in and replace Chris Carter in the Astros’ lineup come September. But, the lefty has only four hits in his last ten games and is batting .180 in August.

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Straily’s struggles

Dan Straily needed to be near perfect over his last few starts with Fresno if he wanted a chance to contribute to the Astros rotation in September – he was not. Over Straily’s last two starts combined, he has surrendered 19 hits, five walks and 17 earned runs over seven innings. With the emergence of Mike Fiers and Scott Feldman‘s consistency, Straily looks like a long shot to pitch in September for Houston.

And that is where Brett Oberholtzer has a chance to step in. The left-hander has gone through his share of struggles, but over his last two starts Oberholtzer has allowed only three earned runs over 14 innings with ten strikeouts and no walks.

The Astros’ pitching rotation is closing out a spectacular month, but the team will want to save their big arms in late September if at all possible. Oberholtzer may have an opportunity to earn a spot start or be the long arm out of the bullpen if a starter gets in trouble next month.

Mark Appel followed an abysmal start against New Orleans with a half-decent outing in Iowa. Appel recorded a win in the game that clinched the division for the Grizzlies; in six innings, the righty gave up three runs on four hits but walked four batters.

The team will be happy to return home to play their final eight regular-season games before the playoffs begin. Stay tuned to find out which players are called up in September to help the Astros make a playoff push.

Next: CTH's Houston Astros Players of the Week (Aug. 24 - 30)

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