Astros: Just a few notes and observations

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 06: Lance McCullers Jr.
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 06: Lance McCullers Jr. /

The Astros are 6-2 in eight games this season. I honestly shouldn’t complain.

Looking back, the first nine days of the 2018 season has progressed well for the Astros. Their 6-2 start is one of the best in franchise history. They have a +18 run differential. Without beating around the bush, the Astros are good. I know that. You know that. There is only so many words and phrases I can use to describe them in this manner.

Alas, even the best teams have warts.

An area of interest thus far has to be the lineup’s strikeouts. The Astros’ offense is currently sixth in strikeout rate at 25.3%. Following April 2017, the K% was 19.5%. Still way early, but it’s starting to become noticeable.

Here are the notable strikeout numbers through in Friday’s game.

Jake Marisnick – 47.4% K%

Derek Fisher – 42.1% K%

J.D. Davis – 40% K%

Marwin Gonzalez – 30.3% K%

Evan Gattis – 30% K%

You have to take into account the limited sample size of data we have today. These numbers will likely stabilize closer to their 2017 counterparts in due time. But it is interesting to see the increase in strikeouts. In today’s hitting environment, it was likely unreasonable to expect the Astros to limit their strikeouts in 2018 to a similar amount in 2017. It may still happen, but only time will tell. You also have to account for the absence of Yuli Gurriel, who doesn’t strike out much. The loss of him from the lineup allows someone else to strike out on a more consistent basis. However, strikeouts are often overemphasized, but it would be nice to see the Astros cut back on the hacks a bit.

Looking back on Lance McCullers first home loss since the 2016 season, it wasn’t exactly a disappointment. McCullers pitched well enough while surrendering only two earned runs — three runs total — in five innings. But he did leave more pitches up in the zone in his second start of 2018 compared to his first start in Arlington one week ago.

Next: Astros: There is not a Ken Giles situation brewing

The Astros are facing off against the Padres again later on Saturday evening. Gerrit Cole makes his first home start as an Astro. The Houston lineup will see Bryan Mitchell, a right-hander acquired in a trade from the Yankees over the offseason. Hopefully, the Astros’ bats will experience better success against Mitchell after being held to one run by Luis Perdomo on Friday night. Perdomo limited Houston’s lineup to only four batted balls with an exit velocity higher than 100 MPH.

**Statistics and information courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Baseball Savant**