Astros: Five key takeaways from shortened Angels series

Houston Astros, Brandon Bielak (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Astros, Brandon Bielak (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Here are our five key takeaways from the Houston Astros hurricane-shortened Angels series.

This series against the Angels didn’t go quite as planned for the Houston Astros largely due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Laura. What was to be a four-game set was shortened to three games, two of which became a doubleheader of seven innings each. The fourth game will be played on Sept. 5.

Nonetheless the Astros did what they needed to do — they won the series. They took Monday’s game and the first of Tuesday’s doubleheader on the strength of some solid offensive performances. The entire pitching staff imploded in the second half of the twin bill, which leaves us with plenty to talk about.

But now the Astros won’t play again until Friday at the earliest. With any luck, the hurricane will avoid the Houston area and thus give the team a couple days of much-needed rest. The pitchers could all use a day or two off for sure, and the front office might want to reevaluate the makeup of the pitching staff.

George Springer escaped from a scary situation on Monday when he was hit on the elbow with a pitch. Luckily the injury is only minor, so he’ll hopefully be back in the lineup this weekend. As we await the team’s possible return to the field on Friday, here are our five key takeaways from this Angels series.

Rethink the Bullpen

If there’s anything this series showed us, it’s that the Astros need to make some changes to the relief corps. Joe Biagini has been scored upon in all four of his appearances this year and has a 20.77 ERA. He’s just not fooling anybody and has no business being on the roster at this point. Brooks Raley now has a 7.15 ERA and Chase De Jong did not inspire confidence in his debut.

Ryan Pressly, Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes and Andre Scrubb have proven they belong. Cionel Perez has looked good so far and Cy Sneed has been pitching better. But beyond those guys, it’s time to try out some different arms. Brandon Bailey deserves another shot, and why not give Fernando Rodney a try? Hopefully Brad Peacock will be back soon, and maybe GM James Click makes a move for a reliever.

Bielak still the guy?

It’s hard to judge a guy who’s had only two bad outings after pitching so well for quite a while, but Brandon Bielak just looks lost right now. He’s seen his ERA rise from 1.69 to 5.40 in his last two outings in which he’s combined to allow 10 earned runs in two innings of work. Something just isn’t right.

Luckily the Astros may not need him for a little while. They’re off today and Thursday, and they also have this coming Monday off as well. They wouldn’t need a fifth starter until the first weekend in September, so they can give Bielak some rest if they want. It might do him some good, and maybe by then, Jose Urquidy will be back.

Tucker on a Tear

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Remember when Kyle Tucker’s batting average was below the Mendoza Line? That seems like a distant memory as his recent hot streak has brought it all the way up to .262. He was 4-for-7 with four walks, a double, a triple, a homer and three RBIs in these three games. He’s simply been on fire.

Tucker now leads the team in triples, RBIs, OPS and is tied for the lead in homers. The 23-year-old is blossoming right before our eyes, and in this ridiculously crazy season, it’s one of the few genuine bright spots for this Astros team.

Framber’s Here to Stay

Framber Valdez gave up four runs in his start against the Angels, but that’s not the important thing to take away from it. In the process, he also struck out 11 hitters, which is a new career-high for the lefthander. His 2.35 ERA on the season shows he’s coming into his own and appears to have a firm grip on a rotation spot for the foreseeable future.

Gurriel Back on Track

Yuli Gurriel fell into a bit of a slump last week, but he broke out of it just fine against the hapless Angels. He went 5-for-10 in the series with a pair of doubles and leads the team in batting average and hits and is tied for the lead in doubles. There’s an argument to be made that he’s the team’s MVP thus far.