The Astros hopefully used the off day between Boston and Chicago to shake off yet another poor string of performances.
They left Boston going 1-3 in the series when the Astros could have easily flipped that record in their favor. Blowing a ninth-inning lead in game three, and then an outfield blunder in game four allowed the Red Sox to win another series against the stumbling Astros.
Carlos Gomez has caught a lot of blame and apparently is owning up to it.
"In addition to going 0-for-3 and striking out to end the game to drop his batting average to .182, the Astros outfielder misplayed a pair of fly balls, both of which led to runs. He lost a ball in the sun in the second inning that dropped for a Josh Rutledgedouble, and he called off right fielder George Springer on a ball hit into the gap in the seventh and then didn’t catch it, leading to the tying and go-ahead runs."
"“On the second one, I called it and I didn’t catch it,” Gomez said. “That’s it. It’s my fault. We lost the game because of me today.” – http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/178360336/astros-carlos-gomez-makes-costly-miscue"
Gomez’s continued horrendous play led to the Astros shaking some things up. C Erik Kratz was designated for assignment, OF Preston Tucker was optioned to AAA Fresno, Evan Gattis was recalled from AA Corpus Christi, and OF Tony Kemp will be making his big league debut in Chicago on Tuesday night. Fans must think that he is being brought up to start in the OF over Gomez, to hopefully add some spark and efficiency to the offense.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
The Astros also made another move before the three-game set with Chicago, calling up 3B Colin Moran from AAA Fresno. Gomez will hit the DL, which could be a restart his season. Houston is obviously making these moves to stoke the fires of the club to try and get some improved results.
The road trip doesn’t get any easier as the Astros take on the AL Central-leading White Sox (24-13) at U.S. Cellular Field. The Astros go from facing the best hitting club in the league to the best pitching team in the AL with a team ERA of 3.17. They are even better at home with a 2.76 ERA, and their bats are starting to heat up this month. However, Chicago is coming off a rough road trip of their own, losing both series to Texas and the Yankees.
Keuchel looks lost. His control, which is the key to his success, has been all but lost in 2016. His BB/9 is at 4.0 this year, in 2015 it was 2.0, and his WHIP is up to 1.60. His numbers reflect the pitcher he was three years ago when he went 6-10 with a 5.15 ERA in 2013. If Keuchel is going to turn it around, he has got to get his mechanics back in order and eliminate the walks. He has lost four of his last five outings and was drilled by Boston in his most recent start. This season, on the road, Keuchel is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA, and at U.S. Cellular, he is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA over his career.
The third overall pick in the 2014 draft Rodon is already in his second major league season with Chicago. The Astros passed on Rodon and took Brady Aiken with the first pick, which ultimately led to Houston getting Alex Bregman in 2015. The 6’3, the 225-pound southpaw, had a good rookie campaign last year, and so far this year has been up and down. His last start was against the Rangers, and he gave up 12 hits and six earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched. He also gave up two long balls and has given up a total of six on the year, giving him an HR/9 average of 1.4 which is double his number from last year.
In his short career, Rodon has pitched better away from U.S. Cellular, but he has dominated the Astros in two career starts, winning one of them, and posting a near-perfect 0.73 ERA against Houston. He is a fastball/slider pitcher with the occasional change-up, and has a tremendous upside, especially if he can produce a consistent, quality third pitch.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***