Do the Astros really need to carry 13 pitchers?
The Houston Astros have a historically good rotation, and they have a 29-18 record on the season. They now sit in first place in the AL West ahead on the Mariners, not the Angels. The Angels are struggling offensively after a hot start at the plate. After tonight’s game versus the Indians, they have a rather odd week ahead. They play a two-game series versus the Giants and then will play the Indians for four games in Cleveland.
The Astros bullpen has pitched the second-fewest innings in the American League. Granted, the Indians have played three fewer games than Houston. With 113 innings pitched by the bullpen, they have averaged 2.57 innings per game as a reliever. Unlike the Astros, the Indians have the worst ERA in the bullpen with a 5.73 ERA. On the opposite side, the Indians starters have pitched the second most innings in the American League.
As a reliever, the Astros have logged 119.1 innings in 47 games. They averaged approximately 2.53 innings with an American League-best 2.87 ERA. Yes, this is the same bullpen led by Ken Giles who punched himself after being removed from that Yankees game. Giles has lowered his ERA down to 3.77. The Astros starters have logged an MLB-high 301 innings in 2018.
Is there a need for another bat in the lineup?
The Astros have not been as strong offensively as they were in 2017. I spoke to Buster Olney on Friday, and he felt the Astros hitters were trying too hard to stack onto what they did last year. He feels that they will start producing more soon. If the offensive inconsistency continues to struggle, then he could see them looking to add offense at the trade deadline. He felt it was too early to know what the needs will be in July.
Based on the 218 runs scored and the 122 runs allowed, the Astros should be 35-12 based on their Pythagorean win-loss record. The 218 runs scored in fourth in the AL and seventh overall. They have struggled to score at home, only batting .229 and scoring 93 runs in 24 games. They are only averaging 3.8 runs per game at home. On the road, they have scored 125 runs in 23 games, which is about 5.4 runs per game.
A move coming soon?
The other day on the Astros On Deck show with Micheal Connor, Brian McTaggart suggested the team could bring up another hitter. Why have the 13th reliever if they are not needed with the starters going about 6 1/3 innings per start. The main guys who will pitch the most are Giles, Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Brad Peacock, Hector Rondon, and Collin McHugh. The question is, who would they send down to the minors?
While the obvious options could be Joe Smith and Tony Sipp, but I’m not sure if they have options remaining. Smith gave up another homer yesterday, raising his ERA to 7.43 ERA in 13 1/3 innings pitched. Sipp has shown signs of being decent, but he has a 4.32 ERA in only 8 1/3 innings pitched this year. They are mostly only used in low leverage situations, and Sipp is barely used, so one of them could be an option.
Who could help?
The Astros have not said they were doing this, but the next question would be who they would bring up? No, they would not move up Kyle Tucker yet, they would probably bring up either J.D. Davis or Tyler White. By making the opening day roster, the team has already shown the trust in Davis. Plus, instead of going down and sulking after his demotion, Davis is batting .415 with four homers and 36 RBIs. He batted .250 in his brief nine-game stint earlier in the season.
White is also showing that he belongs with a .356 batting average with eight homers and 30 RBIs. The problem with the Astros roster is that they are loaded and don’t have to rely on younger players as much as other teams do. Their depth is what helped them win the 2017 World Series. Would the Astros make a move like this to add more offensive to this lineup? We will see over the next few days. Updated: The Astros are calling up Davis per McTaggart.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB.com***