Look for the Astros to give players the Spurs type treatment this season.
The Astros won their 28th game of the season last night behind the 12 runs and Dallas Keuchel‘s seventh win of the season. Keuchel remains without a loss with an ERA of 1.84. How does the 28-12 record through 40 games compare to 2015? Through 40 games in 2015, the Astros were 26-14. This is the best start in Astros history, why not do a little Gregg Popovich with the Astros.
Most fans know what I mean, the Spurs tend to rest players during the regular season. While a team needs to reach the playoffs, having players rested is very important for the long haul. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow joined the guys of PGS on Sports Talk 790. Luhnow mentioned that he and A.J. Hinch had a conversation this offseason about last September.
Rest the core players when possible.
They both noticed that the Astros seemed to be tired last two September’s. George Springer played every game last year after missing a lot of his previous two seasons. Here is what Luhnow said. “We know that all the guys want to play every game. We wanted to give the guys proactive rest and not reactive rest. Make sure they get time off before an injury.”
Luhnow went on to praise Hinch for taking Keuchel out of the game with the game was well in hand. This is not something that Hinch did a lot in 2015 because the Astros did not have a strong bullpen to trust with the lead. Keuchel won the 2015 Cy Young Award after winning 20 games and pitching 232 innings. That’s not including the 14 innings that he pitched in the Wild Card Game and the ALDS. He pitched a total of 246 innings in 2015.
Let’s save some innings for the playoffs.
The next season, Keuchel was not quite right from the get go. Ironically, Keuchel looked great during the 2016 spring training. During the 2016 season, Keuchel had some good games and then some clunkers. His walk rate went up to 2.6 BB/9 as well as his home run rate increased to 1.1 HR/9. Keuchel finished the season with a 9-12 record with an ERA of 4.55.
Keuchel missed the end of the season with a shoulder injury that led to concerns about how effective he would be this year. He is becoming an early season candidate for the AL Cy Young Award. He is now 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. We are used to seeing Keuchel sharp and on point, but in last night’s game, he was a little off.
Keuchel made a bad throw, and he allowed two runs to score in the first inning. He settled down and pitched shutout ball for the next four innings. The Hinch brought in Michael Feliz into the game to pitch in the sixth inning. Keuchel left after throwing only 70 pitches, Astros Twitter started to worry why he left so soon. He was not injured, let’s just give your star a little extra rest, save him for September and October.
The Astros have an eight-game cushion in the AL West right now. While there are 122 regular season games left, the team has the right idea for resting players proactively. Springer took the day off yesterday, and Jake Marisnick started and hit two homers. This team is strong enough that it doesn’t have to rely on a certain player or pitcher to be in this game.
***Stats via Baseball-Reference***