Another day, another victory for the Astros. In fact, last night’s win in Arlington is ninth consecutive for Houston. Wait, when exactly did an Astros victory become so matter of fact?
If you are keeping count, the Astros are now 5-1 against the Rangers in 2017. They’ve also managed to be the first team to reach 40 wins on the season. That’s good news.
Thanks to an exciting 6-5 victory last night, Houston has also managed to exceed their win total of four last season against their arch-rival. This little tidbit is equally positive and negative.
But don’t let this game lead you to believe that Houston played its best ball last night. There were miscues, errors, missed opportunities and a balk. Yes, there was a balk courtesy of Luke Gregerson. If it makes you feel any better, Rangers reliever Keone Kela recorded a balk as well. Not sure if this information is worth anything, but if it makes you, the reader, feel better then fine.
If you utilize Fangraphs for your baseball research, which you should, then you may be familiar with LI. For those who may not know, LI stands for Leverage Index. It is basically a calculation to quantify whether a player was used in a high, medium or low-leverage situations, which is courtesy of Tom Tango.
One version of LI, pLI, represents “A player’s average LI for all game events.” Per Fangraphs, a 2.0 pLI or higher would classify as high leverage. A pLI of 0.85 or lower would be noted as low leverage. Anything between a 0.85-2.00 pLI is considered medium leverage. I recommend that you take the time to click on the link attached to the preceding quote and research the topic in more depth. Trust me when I state I am doing the same.
Anyway, the Astros pitching staff as one unit posted an 1.72 pLI last night. So, this would indicate a medium leverage situation. This makes sense if you examine the breakdown of the game. But we are close to the high leverage territory. And there were a few Astros pitchers who posted a rather high pLI: Will Harris (3.80 pLI), Ken Giles (2.34 pLI) and Luke Gregerson (2.52 pLI). In fact, the lowest pLI from a Houston pitcher last night was Lance McCullers at 1.16. You can also see the leverage index during the game when you check out the Live Scoreboard on Fangraphs.
Basically, it was not a stress free night at the office for the Astros pitching staff, but they still earned the win.
The Astros offense obviously produced six runs in this baseball affair. After all, I assume we have all read the box score of the game or heard the news elsewhere. One player who helped the offense going in the early going was Carlos Beltran‘s solo home run in the second inning. The exit velocity of this early dinger was 107 MPH. Beltran’s average exit velocity this season is 86.14 MPH.
There isn’t anything particularly special about his exit velocity, however, the home run was a needed jolt for the Astros in the early going of the game.
This dinger tied the score at 1-1 and dropped the Rangers win expectancy from 60% to 50%. This was to be expected as it was still early in the game and the score was tied. But the most interesting piece of information was the fact that Beltran has hit all seven of his home runs this season as a left-handed hitter. Don’t forget that Beltran is a switch-hitter by trade. You can thank Christian Boutwell, the Astros associate reporter at MLB.com, for this interesting piece of information.
And don’t forget that this also moves Beltran into sole possession of 49th place in career home runs with 428.
Once again, I cannot emphasize enough that we did not see the Astros best performance last night. But the bullpen once again stepped up and helped the salvage the night despite a strong effort from Lance McCullers. Some of the issues that transpired in the game was not entirely McCullers fault. Carlos Correa‘s error in the fifth inning stands out the most.
Part of the pitching staff’s impressive performance despite five runs, four earned, in the game was the ability to strike out 18 Rangers batters. In fact, every Astros pitcher recorded at least one strikeout last night.
There was probably no bigger strikeout, though, than Ken Giles striking out Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor to end the game. This dropped the Rangers win expectancy from 10.5% down the all so sweet 0%.
**Statistics and record information courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference**