Astros: A Peculiar Stat against Left-Handed Starters

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 06: Carlos Beltran #15 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the 4th inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 6, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 06: Carlos Beltran #15 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the 4th inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 6, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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With a 63-32 record, what would make you believe there is anything to worry about for the Astros?

After attending last night’s game, watching the Astros fall 4-1 to the Mariners, I had a thought. In this series, the Astros went 1-3 against Seattle. What was more interesting, is their two losses came against left-handed starting pitchers. With this in mind, I was curious to know how the Astros have done against lefties in the starting role. So, I looked.

What I Found

The Astros are 15-13 in games which the opposing team starts a left-handed pitcher.  This team has an overall average of .279 against left-handers. However, for a team that boasts some of the strongest offensive numbers in the league, it is strange to struggle in this way.

The team has nearly comparable numbers comparing against both right-handers and left-handers. In 94 games which a right-handed pitcher has entered the game, the Astros have 713 hits, 163 doubles, and 115 home runs. In 66 appearances by left-handed pitchers, the Stros have 243 hits, 48 double and 40 home runs. The sample size is smaller, but it shows a decrease in the quality of contact made by the hitters.

Why Lefties?

Let’s take a look at yesterday’s line up against James Paxton:

https://twitter.com/astros/status/887696733211316224

We had eight right-handed hitters and one left-handed hitter facing the left-hander. The match up, lefty vs. righty, was there. However, why is there a struggle? These players are elite. They know how to hit, as they’ve shown all year. But, they continue to struggle with left-handed starters. What could it be?

The Lefty’s Advantage

We all know left-handed pitchers are different. Whether it’s the delivery or pitch movement, they have the ability to keep hitters off-balance. As Dallas Keuchel does to our opponents, left-handed pitchers do to us. Sometimes there’s no real reason that the fact the team cannot see the pitches as they do from a righty. Furthermore, how do the Astros overcome this woe?

Next: What if the Astros trade for Verlander and Wilson?

Practice Makes Perfect

As the season progresses, this team must address this weakness. Adding a left-handed pitcher to batting practice, watching more film or becoming more contact oriented against left-handers are a few ways to improve their performances.  All in all, the Astros have some work to do to overcome their woes against left-handed starting pitching.

***Stats and Data courtesy of MLB.com and ESPN.com***