Astros observations: Offense inconsistencies and the mostly stellar starting rotation

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 15: Jake Marisnick
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 15: Jake Marisnick /

Well, the Astros offense hasn’t been the best in 2018. But recent games have given glimpses of better days.

One Astros’ outfielder, Jake Marisnick, has struck out 24 times in 45 at-bats. And no walks.

Yes, no walks. Not good, if you ask me. But the power is still there, for those wondering. And, yes, power can exist even if you make contact at an infrequent rate.

Another Astros’ outfielder, Derek Fisher, has struck out 16 times in 32 at-bats. He only has two walks on the season.

Still not good. But he does provide quality defense in left field. See his home run saving play on Wednesday.

On the whole, the Astros have struck more times than not compared to roughly one calendar year ago.

Team strikeout rate in 2017 through 4/30: 17.3%

Team strikeout rate in 2018 through 4/18: 24.2%

That stated, the Astros’ offense has begun to turn a corner in recent games. Specifically, the last two games against the Mariners have seen the Houston bats post eleven total runs. In 16 total games entering Thursday, the offense has been held to two or fewer runs a total of six times in April. Last April, the Astros were held to two or fewer runs only four times. Don’t forget we still have roughly a week-and-a-half of games remaining until April 2018 ends.

I have confidence that the lineup will start producing closer to their 2017 selves sooner or later. This season in different regards has been a small sample size. The numbers will most likely balance out eventually. There is too much talent for this group not to produce. But expecting an exact sequel to last year’s historic offense was perhaps unrealistic.

Let’s talk about something more optimistic.

In case you haven’t heard, the Astros starting rotation has been kick-butt. Well, for the most part. Minus two or so less-than-memorable starts by Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, the rotation has been quite good. In fact, one of the best in baseball. For example, look at the current strikeout leaders that represent the Astros.

Gerrit Cole: 41 strikeouts; 1st entering Thursday

Lance McCullers: 34 strikeouts; tied for 4th entering Thursday

Justin Verlander: 34 strikeouts; tied for 4th entering Thursday

In terms of strikeouts per nine, you still find Astros littered on the top ten list.

McCullers: 14.571 strikeouts per 9 IP; 1st entering Thursday

Cole: 13.179 strikeouts per 9 IP; 4th entering Thursday

Charlie Morton: 12.5 strikeouts per 9 IP; 8th entering Thursday

But strikeouts don’t necessarily translate into quality performances all the time. So, here are the numbers for the Astros’ starting rotation through April 2017 in terms of ERA, FIP, and xFIP.

Through 4/30: 4.03 ERA/3.95 FIP/3.81 xFIP

Respectable numbers, right?

Well, here are the 2018 numbers through April 18th.

Through 4/18: 2.39 ERA/3.04 FIP/2.82 xFIP

By golly, that is impressive.

Next: Was Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez a One-Year Wonder?

And is it too early to start the “Cole for 2018 Cy Young” campaign? Just asking for a friend.

**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs**