So much for the positive vibes heading back home for the Astros.
After an encouraging two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Astros were met with yet another cold dose of reality in the form of the hapless Cincinnati Reds pitching staff that has a 4.95 ERA. In many ways, the 2016 season has been a cold dose of reality for the Astros.
But I digress. The Astros last night were not able to produce more two runs while being walked eight times and going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. And the pitching could only hold up so long into extra innings before the wheels finally came off for reliever Pat Neshek. Most days this was a game the Astros were supposed to win, at least on paper. However, baseball does not work in that way.
Hopefully the second game of the series will be much different.
The Astros will be facing the Reds third overall prospect in the form of Cody Reed, who was acquired in last season’s deal that saw Johnny Cueto sent to the Kansas City Royals. The 23-year old left-hander has been performing well in the minors this year with a 6-3 record and 3.20 ERA in eleven starts at the Triple-A level.
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Considered one of the top left-handed pitching prospects, Reed brings two plus pitches: his fastball that can reach up to 97 MPH with some movement and a slider that is regarded as his “true out” pitch. He rounds out his arsenal with a change up that does not excite as much as his first two pitches, but it is there if the situation requires it. We will see what the Astros offense can do with that kind of stuff.
Keuchel gets the start tomorrow for the Astros as he looks to right the ship in what has been an underwhelming follow up campaign to his Cy Young season last year. In his past five starts, Keuchel has allowed less than four runs twice and he has posted a 5.74 ERA in that same span. The only good news with the bearded left-hander is his FIP, which has been 3.20 over the same five starts. So maybe a return closer to his peripherals is in order?
Of course, the offense has been helped by a somewhat resurgence form Carlos Gomez. Since May 31st, Gomez has provided three home runs and seven RBI in 52 plate appearances. That is definitely much, much better results at the plate for the embattled Astros outfielder, despite the occasional errors in the field or base paths. But more than Gomez will be required for an offense that has struggled since the Texas Rangers series earlier this month. Only time will tell whether the offense can swing their way out of this funk anytime soon.
**Statistics and player information provided by Fangraphs & MLB Pipeline**