Three numbers and the Astros offense is stifled once again
By Cody Poage
If you entered yesterday under the assumption that the Astros offense has rebounded, well, think again.
By OPS, the Astros are one of the best at generating offense. In fact, their combined .812 OPS is the third-best in baseball, which trails only the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals. If you haven’t heard, the Yankees and the Nationals are quite good this season. I tell you this for two reasons: One, it is alright to trail New York and Washington in this category, and second, you shouldn’t worry about the Astros offense in the long-term.
However, the Astros offense has taken a spill in three of their four last games. In those three games, the Astros have scored a combined four runs, which included last night’s defeat by the hand of the Boston Red Sox. The one outlier that stands out is their 13-run explosion against the Texas Rangers on Thursday. So, yeah, the offense has been in a bit of a funk, and I am not too worried about it. Unfortunately, this did cost the Astros a win last night, which hurts.
The worst WPA (Win Probability Added) from any Astros batter last night was Evan Gattis, who batted clean up. I am actually not sure why the Astros penciled in Gattis as the clean up batter in the first place. Counting last night, Gattis has produced a slash line of .231/.250/.423 with a 73 wRC+ in 28 plate appearances while hitting fourth. Sure, this is a SSS (Small Sample Size), but the Astros lineup is likely better with someone else hitting fourth. But that is just my opinion, which probably doesn’t mean much.
Gattis has experienced a down season compared to last year. In 166 plate appearances, the part-time catcher has posted an 100 wRC+. Last season, Gattis posted an 119 wRC+ in 499 plate appearances so it may be a matter of time before he turns his performance around.
The only source of offense that the Astros generated yesterday was a solo home run by Brian McCann. The 402 feet home run in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game and granted the Astros hope of pulling out a win. Courtesy of this dinger, McCann also joined Jose Altuve as one of the two Houston batters to post a positive WPA.
Unfortunately, this was not the case as Will Harris coughed up a solo home run of his own to Mookie Betts in the eighth inning. Yeah, it was that kind of night.
Zero home runs allowed
Yes, I realize the Astros surrendered one home run in last night’s affair with the Red Sox. But the dinger came courtesy of the bullpen. Mike Fiers, the starting pitcher, did not allow a home run last night. He has allowed 18 home runs for the entirety of the 2017 season.
Fiers, who was delegated to the bullpen roughly three weeks ago, has become a revelation for the Astros injury-prone starting rotation. In his four starts since May 30th, the veteran has posted an 1.78 ERA and 2.31 FIP in 25.1 innings. He also not allowed another home run in the same time span.
Next: Astros: The suddenly reliable Mike Fiers strikes again
Thanks to him, Houston has maintained their sizeable lead in the AL West. If Fiers can produce effective results once Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton from their injuries, the Astros rotation has suddenly become a tremendous strength.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference**