Some Astros are trending up despite a rough start to May.
With plenty of opportunity to get hit, the Astros haven’t started off the month of May like they had hoped. There are some bright spots in the forgettable first week as there always are and we will get into them shortly. Prior to last night’s batting practice against the Athletics, the Astros scored 17 runs and allowed 21 going 2-5 in their last seven. They dropped both series against the Yankees and Diamondbacks. Last night, they flipped the script almost matching their total runs in the previous six games driving in 16.
There are always players who “Trend Up” despite a struggling offense at times, let’s take a look at who they are this week.
Trending Up: George Springer
He was poised to be on this list BEFORE last night’s game. Going 6-for-6 will solidify you on the Trending Up list. In his last 6 games Springer has seen 28 at-bats and managed 7 hits for a .250 average. Not terrible for a team who combined only 48 hits in 6 games. In last night’s 20 hit outburst, Springer went 6 for 6 scoring four of the 16 runs and driving in three. This 6-6 night ties Joe Morgan’s mark back in the 1965 12-inning game.
Springer didn’t need extra innings to accomplish this feat. He was a triple shy of the cycle (which is the toughest to get) but I’m sure the World Series MVP wasn’t upset about that. The only thing troubling about George Springer’s night were the 3 RBI. It’s tough no one else was on base when a guy gets six hits in one night. Those 3 runs batted in came off a 462 foot long ball smashed to left field bringing home Reddick and Stassi along with himself. We need more people on base NEXT time this happens.
Trending Up: Yuli Gurriel
The only Astro hotter than Springer this week is Yuli Gurriel. Yuli isn’t a stranger to trends, this week he returns to the Trending Up list going 11 for 28 in his last 7 for .393 average and a .279 on the season. In fact, Gurriel is currently on a 9 game hit streak. Hoping not to jinx it, Yuli deserves some shine here. When the team goes 2-5 in seven games and dropping eight of the last 13, he is what’s right during this slump. He has driven in four runs and struck out only twice in 28 at-bats. The first baseman has 24 hits on the season. He is with good company despite missing the first part of the season. We will see if Gurriel can continue this streak with opportunities against the Athletics, Rangers and Angels coming up.
Trending Up: Gerrit Cole
All aboard the Cole Train! Signed to be the 4th starter, Gerrit Cole is pitching like an ace. Cole only pitched once in the last week. A five man rotation will do that to you. But in that start he shut out the Diamondbacks in the series opener allowing only one hit in a complete game. Pitching all nine innings, Cole and his 1.42 ERA stuck out 16 in his first career shutout. And what a time to achieve that.
He has proven that he’s a day one and day two pitcher when the playoffs roll around. I’ll be anxiously waiting to see what AJ Hinch and crew do to tinker the rotation to allow Verlander and Cole pitch back to back should the Astros reach the postseason. It’s hard to “trend” when you pitch once a week so let’s look at his 7 starts combined that landed him on the trending up list.
In seven games, Gerrit Cole pitched 50.2 innings allowing 26 hits and 8 earned runs for a 1.42 ERA on the season. He has 77 strikeouts which is a team high and only walked nine, also a team low for starting pitchers. Currently as it stands, the Astros have the best team combined ERA at 2.66. In fact, they are the only team to allow less than 3 runs per game.
Is this all for naught?
The 22-15 record doesn’t reflect that. But, Lance McCullers has turned it around. Dallas Keuchel bounced back last night. And if Cole, Verlander and Morton continue to dominate this pitching staff could be the best in history. Hopefully the bullpen gets it together and the offense becomes consistent because it would be a shame if a staff this good doesn’t dominate all the way in route to a repeat.
*** Stats courtesy of baseball-reference and MLB.com ***