Astros Spring Notes: The Brian McCann-Jon Kemmer Show
By Cody Poage
Yesterday, the Houston Astros bested the Washington Nationals by the score of 8-2. Yes, the win is not particularly noteworthy.
If you pay attention to Spring Training box scores solely for the sake of tracking wins and losses then, my friend, you have it all wrong. You should pay attention to the inner workings of that particular game, which Astros player is making the most of their chance.
For example, Brian McCann has begun to warm up with the bat. And Jon Kemmer has quietly put together a solid showing in Spring Training. The Astros have to be pleased with these developments; the expected and the unexpected. Both of these players essentially led the offensive onslaught yesterday with a combined five hits and five RBI.
Kemmer, in particular, could be a name to watch in 2017. While I am sure that Jake Marisnick will make the Opening Day roster as a reserve outfielder, Kemmer could be an option later on in the season if the need arises.
McCann, one of the Astros notable acquisitions this winter, is projected to be a constant force in the team’s lineup this season. While Spring Training statistics are not reliable, it is nice to see McCann put up a .924 OPS in 22 at-bats. This is a solid place to start for the veteran catcher.
On the pitching front, Joe Musgrove looked impressive. I would go into more detail about him now. However, I will have another post this morning that delves deeper into my optimism.
Chris Devenski has continued to pitch well out of the bullpen. He did that once again yesterday with three strikeouts over two scoreless innings. The odds are now that Devenski remains in the bullpen to start the season. But I wouldn’t count him out making a spot start or two in 2017. After all, the days of relying solely on five starting pitchers in a season are over for most teams.
Another name that is putting up a solid Spring Training is none other than Ken Giles. The talented right-hander has less attention on him this year compared to the previous one when he was the primary acquisition. In just five innings pitched he already has eight strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA. Remember in last year’s Spring Training Giles posted a 6.75 ERA in 9.1 innings. Hopefully, a better start to this year’s camp translates into the regular season, which is a well-noted issue from Giles’ 2016 season.
Next: Houston Astros lose Kevin Chapman to the Atlanta Braves via waivers
Overall, the individual developments of yesterday’s victory are worth more than the actual win. Once all the regulars return from the World Baseball Classic, we should have a better gauge on this team. We will just have to wait and see if these strong starts carry over into the regular season. But it’s Spring Training so who knows exactly.
**Statistics courtesy of MLB.com**