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The Houston Astros Look to Open Club Astros Soon in 2016
The Astros bats were on fire last night, as they forced Cleveland ace Corey Kluber out of the game in the third inning. The Astros not only put seven runs on the board, but they did so with eight hits, none of which were home runs. It was nice to see the Astros string hits together, and particularly in the bottom of the lineup.
Luis Valbuena went 2-4, and Jason Castro went 1-3, and they both got on base in the third inning for Jose Altuve, who then knocked them both in with a line-drive double to left field. Mike Fiers staked his claim to stay in the rotation with possibly his best performance of the year, going seven strong innings and allowing only one run on three hits, while striking out four. Ken Giles and Scott Feldman closed out the game with each throwing a scoreless frame.
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GAME 2: Trevor Bauer (2-0, 5.14) vs Chris Devenski (0-1, 1.46)
The former third overall pick Bauer has yet to live up to his expectations. He is now in his third full major league season, and this year he began in the Cleveland bullpen. He has made his way back into the rotation due to Carlos Carrasco being sent to the 15-day DL. Inconsistency has plagued Bauer, and walks have always been one of his biggest vices, and against the Astros, who lead the AL in walks drawn, this could pose a problem. But, if there is one team that Bauer has had past success against, Houston is that team. He has a 3-0 record versus the Astros including going 2-0 last year with 1.29 ERA, including an 11-strikeout game at Minute Maid Park.
Current Astros are only batting .154 against Bauer. In his two outings preceding tonight, Bauer allowed three earned runs in each. It would appear that his pitches are lacking much movement as 100% of his pitches within the strike zone last game, resulted in contact when swung at by opposing batters, getting a zero whiff rate. His cutter is getting demolished this year, with opponents batting .417 on that pitch, so look for Bauer to incorporate more off-speed pitches into his game plan.
Devenski continues to impress in his first major league season. Like Bauer, he started off in the bullpen, but after struggles from Houston’s starting pitching, he was bumped from the rotation. So far in two starts, Devenski is 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA and has been a victim of poor offensive and bullpen support. Devenski continues to pitch well against lefties, holding them to a .216 batting average, righties are at a .282 clip. Devenski has yet to show a true weakness in his game, but as teams start to see more tape on him, it will be interesting to see what adjustments they make.
Next: Astros Should Promote Tony Kemp Soon
If anything, it would be nice to see him induce more ground balls as his LD/GB/FB percentages are 28/34/38. Also, another area for improvement might be to locate his changeup better. While it is his strikeout pitch, getting 11/22 of his strikeouts this year, it is also by far the pitch hitters have had the most success against. Developing a third pitch (curve/knuckle-curve) that he can regularly command could make a him a mainstay in the rotation for years to come.
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**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference**